St. Valentine’s Day Reads

This special Valentine goes out to all those people #43Traitors who voted to give a certain insurrectionist yet another free pass.

By the way, all Kitty hearts illustrations by:

This tweet is getting some attention:

So, there are bad storms across the country…

I will end with this one observation:

What can you say after that?


Thursday Reads: Democrats and The Greene Party

Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896|

z;o Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896

Good Afternoon!!

I’ve never been a Joe Biden fan. Early on in the 2020 primaries, I even thought I might refuse to vote for him if he were the Democratic nominee. But as time went on, he grew on me. Now I think he probably is exactly what we needed. He’s a “normal” Democratic politician, he’s extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of the Senate, and he comes across as a decent person. He’s the perfect antidote to Trump’s psychotic behavior, ignorance, and incompetence. And it turns out that most Americans support what Biden is doing as president.

AP: AP-NORC Poll: Americans open to Biden’s approach to crises.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks into a new administration, a majority of Americans say they have at least some confidence in President Joe Biden and his ability to manage the myriad crises facing the nation, including the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, 61% approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Though the bulk of Biden’s support is from fellow Democrats, about a quarter of Republicans say they approve of his early days in office.

Even at a moment of deep national divisions, those numbers suggest Biden, as with most of his recent predecessors, may enjoy something of a honeymoon period. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office, according to Gallup polling. There was one exception: Donald Trump, whose approval rating never surpassed 50% in Gallup polls, even at the start of his presidency.

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

Obviously Biden faces serious challenges, but so far the public as a whole is supportive.

Biden’s standing with the public will quickly face significant tests. He inherited from Trump a pandemic spiraling out of control, a sluggish rollout of crucial vaccinesdeep economic uncertainty and the jarring fallout of the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. It’s a historic confluence of crises that historians have compared to what faced Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War or Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the depths of the Great Depression.

Biden’s advisers know that the new president will be quickly judged by Americans on his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 450,000 people in the U.S. He’s urgently pressing Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion relief package that would include funds for vaccine distribution, school reopening and state and local governments buckling under the strain of the pandemic.

“We have to go big, not small,” Biden told House Democrats on Tuesday. He’s signaled that he’s open to trimming his $1.9 trillion proposal but not as far as some Republicans are hoping. A group of GOP senators has put forward their own $618 billion package.

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

At Axios, Mike Allen explains why Biden’s stimulus plan is probably going to get through Congress one way or another: Biden’s grand plan

President Biden toldRepublican senators he has “an open door and an open mind” on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. But he already has the votes, and overwhelming support in the country.

Why it matters: Well, power matters. And Biden holds all of it.

Get used to this. Democrats are gleeful as they watch the media fixate on family feuds inside the GOP, while Biden pushes out executive orders and pushes through this bill on his terms.

  • Biden embraces the reality that the two numbers that matter most to his presidency are coronavirus cases falling and economic growth rising.

Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president and longtime Biden confidant, was in the Oval this week for meetings with Republican and Democratic senators, and told me that the president “reaffirmed and deepened his explanation and commitment on the numbers and the substance” of the full package.

  • Ricchetti said Biden made it clear that he welcomes “fine-tuning or amendments or recommendations,” but “underscored that he’s committed to his plan and to the elements he outlined” — and to moving quickly.

What we’re watching: Ricchetti said the president wants to have “a bipartisan and unifying dialogue in the country,” including conversations he’s already had with mayors and local elected officials, “so that this isn’t just about a dialogue with senators and members of Congress. It is a dialogue with the country.”

  • Ricchetti said Biden treated a GOP counterproposal “with an open mind and with respect. He was also honest … in underscoring why he proposed what he did — that he was committed to every one of the elements in his package.”

The bottom line: Democrats will dismiss any whining about Biden’s stimulus as D.C. noise or Republican hypocrisy. They’ll be right on both fronts.

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

Meanwhile, Republicans are mired in a conflict over Q Anon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Gree Kevin McCarthy has to be the most pathetic GOP leader ever–even worse than Paul Ryan or John Boehner. Yesterday, Republicans met to discuss the futures of Greene, a complete crackpot, and Liz Cheney, a relatively normal mainstream Republican who had the guts to vote for Trump’s impeachment. Both women have survived so far. 

CBS News: Liz Cheney survives vote to remove her from GOP leadership.

House Republicans voted by a large margin Wednesday to allow Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney to stay on as the GOP conference chairwoman following an hours-long meeting where members aired their grievances over her vote to impeach former President Trump last month. Just 61 Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her post, while 145 voted for her to stay in a vote by secret ballot.

The vote came after Cheney told her Republican colleagues she would not apologize for her decision, according to a source familiar with the meeting. She later praised the result as a “terrific vote.” 

“We’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” she said after the meeting. “It was very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together and then we need to go forward in a way that helps us beat back the really dangerous and negative Democrat policies.” 

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Greene’s situation is still somewhat up in the air, but she got a standing ovation after apologizing the her colleagues in a private meeting. From The New York Times: The G.O.P. Walks a Tightrope.

  • The extremist wing of the Republican Party has lived to fight another day. But G.O.P. leaders are in knots trying to prove that the party’s factions can all live in harmony.

  • Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, refused to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee appointments yesterday, instead issuing a long statement that condemned her history of making extreme and violent statements but also threw a jab back at Democrats, accusing them of a “partisan power grab.”

  • But at a closed-door meeting yesterday, the party’s House delegation also voted overwhelmingly to keep Representative Liz Cheney — an anti-Trump, establishment figure who has drawn fire from the party’s right wing — in her spot as the No. 3 Republican in the chamber.

  • At the meeting, many House Republicans expressed dismay with Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump and her condemnation of his role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus accused Cheney of “aiding the enemy” when she joined just nine other Republicans in voting to impeach Trump, according to people familiar with the discussion. But ultimately she held on to her leadership role easily.

  • McCarthy’s unwillingness to strip Greene of her appointments, as Democrats and many Republicans have called on him to do, indicates that the G.O.P. plans to address the division in its ranks through messaging more than disciplinary action, at least for now.

  • In his statement, McCarthy used strong and direct language to reject the conspiracy-minded views promulgated by Greene, but he effectively defended her right to have held them.

  • “Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” McCarthy said. “I condemn those comments unequivocally.”

  • He said that he had met with her privately and explained “that as a member of Congress,” she would be held “to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen.”

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

At Axios, Margaret Talev reports: Exclusive poll: Republicans favor Greene over Cheney.

Conspiracist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is far more popular than Rep. Liz Cheney among Americans who align with the Republican Party, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: As the House GOP caucus is being torn over calls to yank Cheney from congressional leadership for backing Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and strip Greene from committee assignments for her baseless conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, these findings show how strongly Trumpism continues to define most Republicans.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is much more popular with Republicans than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the survey finds.

By the numbers: McCarthy enjoys the highest favorable versus unfavorable ratings (net favorability) of the four among Republicans, at 38%-16% (+22); followed by Greene, at 28%-18% (+10); McConnell, at 31%-46% (-15); and Cheney, at 14%-42% (-28).

  • Greene is the least well known of the four, with 51% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying they don’t know enough to say whether their impression is favorable or not. Respondents have the most fully formed views of McConnell.
  • Republican respondents are three times as likely to say their views align with Greene than with Cheney, but nearly one-third say they don’t align with either, and half say they don’t know enough to say.
  • Republican respondents who voted for Trump in November gave McCarthy a high net favorable rating (+31) and McConnell a high net unfavorable rating (-18).

The intrigue: People who identify with Greene are disproportionately likely to have lost faith in democracy or believe despite evidence that voter fraud is rampant in their state.

How scary is that?

Leitura by José Ferraz de Almeida JúniorDemocrats are moving forward on a plan to take away Greene’s committee assignments. CNN: House to vote on removing Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments.

The House will vote Thursday on a measure to remove Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments, a decisive step that comes in the wake of recently unearthed incendiary and violent past statements from the congresswoman that have triggered widespread backlash from Democrats and divided congressional Republicans.

House Democrats, who control the chamber, set up the vote after first attempting to pressure Republicans to strip the Georgia Republican of committee assignments on their own. House Republicans have not taken that action, however, and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday released a statement calling the push by Democrats to take away the congresswoman’s committee assignments a “partisan power grab.”

The measure the House will take up calls for Greene to be removed from the House Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee “in light of conduct she has exhibited.”

The move could set a risky precedent as Democrats target a sitting member of the opposing party in Congress over views expressed prior to her serving as an elected official — one that has the potential to someday be used against the party by Republicans.

Interesting stories to check out today:

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Slate: How Georgia Newspapers Are Covering Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Atlantic: What QAnon Has in Common With the Birchers: Sixty years ago, many GOP leaders resisted extremism. Now they’re not even trying.

Just Security: Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda. Scholars on the Nazis and anti-Semitism have seen this before.

Norm Eisen and Katherine Reisner at USA Today: Whatever legal or constitutional test you apply, Trump incited the violent Capitol attack.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney unveils plan to provide $3,000 per child, giving bipartisan support to President Biden’s effort.

Slate: Biden Ousts All 10 of Trump’s Union Busters From Powerful Labor Panel.

NBC News: Biden administration weighs plan to directly send masks to all Americans.

Moe Tkacik at Slate: The Lousy Tippers of the Trump Administration. They were exhausting, impossible, stingy, and cruel, just like at their day jobs.

It has been quiet around here lately. I know I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, and I’m probably not alone. I’m realizing that Trump culture isn’t going to just magically go away. But I do hope you’ll check in and leave a comment or link when you can. We miss you when we don’t hear from you!


Thursday Reads: Following Up On Trump’s Attempted Coup

Carol-Estes-cardinal

Good Morning

As you can probably guess from the images, it is snowing here. It snowed Tuesday night into Wednesday and we might get a bigger snowfall over the weekend. It has been a snow-free January so far, but no longer.

As Congressional Republicans once again circle the wagons around Trump, the death and injury toll from the January 6 attempted coup is growing. A second policeman committed suicide and many more cops were injured than preciously known.

CNN: Two police officers died by suicide after responding to Capitol riot.

Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that two police officers have died by suicide since responding to the riot at the Capitol on January 6, according to Contee’s opening statement before the committee, which was obtained by CNN.

This is the first time the force has confirmed that two officers took their own lives after the attack.

“Tragically, two officers who were at the Capitol on January 6th, one each from the Capitol Police and MPD, took their own lives in the aftermath of that battle,” Contee said in his statement.

Another Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, died the day after the riot “due to injuries sustained while on-duty,” the Capitol Police said in a statement earlier this month.

Eastern bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

And don’t forget that one of the rioters also died by suicide.

The New York Times: The Capitol Police union says nearly 140 officers were injured during the riot.

Nearly 140 police officers from two departments were injured during the Jan. 6 pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol, including officers who suffered brain injuries, smashed spinal discs and one who is likely to lose his eye, the Capitol Police union said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the union’s chairman, Gus Papathanasiou, faulted leadership of the Capitol Police for failing to equip officers with proper equipment ahead of the attack.

He was responding to the closed-door testimony on Tuesday of Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, who acknowledged that the department had known there was a “strong potential for violence” that day but failed to take necessary steps to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.”

Chief Pittman took the reins of the agency after the siege, replacing Steven Sund, who resigned as police chief under pressure.

“We have one officer who lost his life as a direct result of the insurrection,” Mr. Papathanasiou said. “Another officer has tragically taken his own life. Between U.S.C.P. and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured. I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.”

Chief Pittman testified via videoconference before a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee that officers were outmanned during the riot, that internal communications were poor, and that officers lacked sufficient equipment and struggled to carry out orders like locking down the building.

Nevertheless, Congressional Republicans are mostly back in the Trump cult. 

b1417b9221fe19067855651ad725a3ec

Two crows in snow

Stephen Collinson at CNN: In the Republican Party, the post-Trump era lasted a week.

Two roads diverged in American politics, and the Republican Party chose the one traveled by disgraced ex-President Donald Trump and QAnon conspiracy theorists.

While pundits ponder the GOP’s future — and traditionalists hope to change course out of the wreckage left by Trump’s insurrection — Washington’s power players and state activists have already made their choice.

Highlighting the former President’s lightning fast rehabilitation, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will visit Trump in Florida on Thursday after repudiating his own criticism of the incitement of the US Capitol riot.

Only a week after Trump left the White House, it’s clear that his party is not ready to let him go. Extremists and Trumpists are on the rise, while lawmakers who condemned his aberrant conduct fight for their political careers. The anti-Trump wing — represented by members of Congress such as Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mitt Romney of Utah and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger — look like a small and outmaneuvered force.

This week’s sorting will have significant implications for the GOP’s positioning as it heads into the 2022 midterm elections, and for President Joe Biden’s hopes of draining the poison from Washington in the name of national unity.

But it will also pose a fundamental question for the Grand Old Party itself. Is yet another doubling down on grassroots fury and the Trump base the best way to win back Americans? Especially those in suburban areas who rejected the ex-President who lost the House, the Senate and the White House in a single four-year term?

Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast: Republicans Come Crawling Back to Trump Three Weeks After Capitol Riot.

Immediately following the deadly Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, several leaders and prominent figures in his own party wanted to ditch President Donald Trump, blame him for inciting the mob, or at least move on from him. It took less than a month for almost all of the official GOP to start crawling back to him.

Junco On A Branch

              Junco on a branch

GOP bigwigs who were, very briefly, prepared to throw Trump onto the ash heap of history following his primary role in sparking the MAGA riot and for helping the Republican Party lose the presidency and both houses of Congress are now beginning to shield the ex-president, once again, from his liberal foes. Top Republican lawmakers are increasingly signaling that they are ready to let Trump off the hook yet another time, and the former president has been working the phones from his new home base in Florida in an effort to make sure GOP senators vote to acquit him in an upcoming impeachment trial.

Of course Lindsey Graham is leading the pack in their rush back into the Trump orbit.

“He’s very interested in the outcome of the trial and I talked to him yesterday, and I told him the vote yesterday is a sign of things to come,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a close Trump ally, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

Graham was referring to a Tuesday vote for which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sided with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on a measure declaring Senate impeachment proceedings against an ex-president to be unconstitutional. Earlier this month, McConnell had publicly blamed Trump for “provok[ing]” the anti-democratic rioting, and had left open the possibility of voting to convict him in a potential trial.

Minority leader Kevin McCarthy is not far behind.

McCarthy is making nice with the former president—and his family, too. Days after his argument with Donald Trump, McCarthy got on the phone with Donald Trump Jr. Both sides of the conversation walked away believing that they remained on great terms with the other. Trump Jr. is currently planning to do whatever he can to help the GOP take back the House in 2022, according to a person familiar with the matter. “Don wants to see Kevin as speaker of the House,” this source said.

Moreover, multiple news outlets reported on Wednesday that former President Trump and McCarthy are scheduled to meet in person in Florida on Thursday.

Just a short time ago, both of these assholes were denouncing Trump for his attempted coup.

Rose finch

Rose Finch

Yesterday, JJ posted a links to Seth Abraham’s reporting on a suspected planning meeting held on January 5, the day before the Capitol riot. Other news outlets are now reporting on the meeting.

Here’s Abramson’s summary of what is known so far. More Revelations About Secretive January 5 War Council at Trump International Hotel.

Reporting in the Omaha World-Herald, as well as social media screenshots and videos, confirm a January 5 pre-insurrection war council at DC’s Trump International Hotel. Also confirmed by the evidence is a list of the gathering’s (minimum) fifteen attendees.

The first Proof article on this subject can be found here.

The secretive January 5 meeting—which one attendee, Senator Tommy Tuberville, has already been caught lying about, and which another, Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, has attempted to scrub his social media to conceal—included eight different components of Trump’s political machine:

  • Family members: Donald Trump Jr.Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle (current girlfriend of Trump Jr., and a former on-air Fox News personality).

  • Trump’s legal team: Rudy Giuliani.

  • United States senators: Tuberville and at least two other senators (see below).

  • Administration officials: Peter Navarro and Charles Herbster.

  • January 6 organizers: Ali AlexanderAdam Piper, and Michael Flynn.

  • Trump campaign officials: Corey Lewandowski (former), David Bossie (former).

  • Cyberintelligence specialists: Flynn (information operations) and possibly Phil Waldron (self-described—see more below—as skilled in “intelligence analysis”).

  • Trump donors: Mike LindellDaniel Beck, and Herbster.

Due to minimal ongoing coverage of this extraordinary pre-January 6 strategy meeting, questions about the Trump International Hotel gathering remain. This article outlines key questions and reveals the answers to several—all uncovered over the last 24 hours.

Read the rest at the Substack link.

19edb5eacf5f77db0fc7690d12aaea5d

                 Chickadee

From The Alabama Political Reporter: Trump appointee says Tuberville met with Trump family, advisers on eve of Capitol attack.

Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville through a spokeswoman Tuesday denied meeting with the then-director of the Republican Attorneys General Association and others inside Trump’s private residence at the Trump International Hotel on Jan. 5 — on the eve of the deadly U.S.  Capitol attack.

But a photo posted to social media appears to show Tuberville in the hotel’s lobby that day, and a company CEO in a separate post describes meeting with Tuberville and others at the hotel that day and discussing “illegal votes.” 

Charles W. Herbster, who was then the national chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee in Trump’s administration, in a Facebook post at 8:33 p.m. on Jan. 5 said that he was standing “in the private residence of the President at Trump International with the following patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth.”

Among the attendees, according to Herbster’s post, were Tuberville, former RAGA director Adam Piper, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, adviser Peter Navarro, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie. 

More details:

A photo posted to an Instagram user’s account appears to show Tuberville standing in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel on Jan. 5. The user captioned the photo “Newly elected Senator Tommy Tuberville.” In two other separate photos, the person posted images of Flynn and Donald Trump Jr. inside the hotel on Jan. 5. Attempts to reach the person who posted that photo were unsuccessful Tuesday. 

Daniel Beck, CEO of an Idaho technology company, in a Facebook post at 10:27 p.m. on Jan. 5 wrote that he’d spent the evening with Tuberville, Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, Michael J. Lindell, Navarro and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

bluebirds-on-snowy-branch-538973107-59de75100d327a00119e3bedAnd Mother Jones has info on Roger Stone’s long-term involvement in preparations for the coup: 

In the weeks before riled-up Trump supporters looking to overturn the election assembled in Washington, DC, Stone worked to raise money for “private security” and equipment for events there on January 5 and 6 that preceded the storming of the Capitol. But the “Stop the Steal” website where Stone solicited funds was subsequently taken down. Though he now claims to have merely encouraged “peaceful” protests of Congress, he struck a fiery and apocalyptic tone in speeches leading up to the Capitol attack. At a DC rally on December 12, he exhorted his rightwing fans to “fight until the bitter end” to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. Speaking at a rally in Freedom Plaza the night before the Capitol riot, Stone urged the crowd to join an “epic struggle.” 

At that event, Stone appeared to be receiving protection from a security detail composed of members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group. And Stone for years has maintained close ties to members of the Proud Boys, whose leaders treat him as a mentor. Members of both groups face criminal charges for their role in the assault on Congress.

There’s much more on Stone’s role at Mother Jones.

One more from Raw Story: Viral video renews interest in report Trump sons held pre-Capitol coup meeting to pressure’ lawmakers.

A clip from a video recorded by the CEO of a text messaging company is going viral after well-known attorney and activist Seth Abramson posted it to Twitter late Tuesday night.

In the original Facebook live video, posted at 11:32 PM the night before the January 6 insurrection, Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck claims to have just finished a meeting with “about 15” people at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., including, he says, Rudy Giuliani, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr., My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, and “several Senators.”

It appears at least one of those Senators has now been identified.

The video itself would be interesting to those investigating the insurrection and Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, but it’s far more interesting given an article in the Omaha World Herald published January 6, that reports a Republican exploring a run for governor of Nebraska, Charles Herbster, appears to have attended that same January 5 meeting.

Read more at Raw Story.

So this could get very interesting. I hope big media will pick up on this story soon. It sure seems significant.

That’s it for me today, but there’s lots more happening. I’ll post more links in the comment thread and I hope you will too.

 


Lazy Caturday Reads

Portrait of the Cat Armellino With a Sonnet by Bertazzi , Giovanni Reder, 1750

Portrait of the Cat Armellino With a Sonnet by Bertazzi , Giovanni Reder, 1750

Good Morning!!

As we get closer to Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump is acting crazier than ever. I have to wonder if he can avoid a complete psychotic breakdown before he’s finally forced to leave the people’s house. With each passing day, he becomes more of an embarrassment to the country. Here’s the latest, along with some 18th Century cats in art:

The Daily Beast: Trump Plans to Fight the Election Even After ‘Stop the Steal’ Rally Ends.

Many of Donald Trump’s most dogmatic supporters see a mass protest in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6—just two weeks shy of Inauguration Day 2021—as their last chance to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden’s win. But for the president himself, it’s just another day to complain.

Two people familiar with the matter say that in recent days, Trump has told advisers and close associates that he wants to keep fighting in court past Jan. 6 if members of Congress, as expected, end up certifying the electoral college results.

“The way he sees it is: Why should I ever let this go?… How would that benefit me?” said one of the sources, who’s spoken to Trump at length about the post-election activities to nullify his Democratic opponent’s decisive victory.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A Girl Holding a Cat by Philippe Mercier, c.1750 (c) National Galleries of Scotland

The president’s exact plans for the Jan. 6 events remain unclear, and it has been common for him to lend his support to these rallies or protests via enthusiastic-sounding tweets, only to then stop short of doing much else. Since last week, Trump has asked certain aides and allies what they think would be good ideas for him to mark the occasion, such as a speech, a flyover, or a recorded video, the sources said….

On the day itself, protesters plan to meet in the northeast corner of the Capitol complex, where they’ll hear from a list of speakers that includes Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Trump adviser Roger Stone, and Rep-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has supported the QAnon conspiracy theory. Trump has promoted the protest on Twitter, urging his supporters to attend.

“Be there, will be wild!” Trump tweeted on Dec. 19.

CNN: Trump attacks No. 2 Senate Republican as the President turns on allies in his final days in office.

President Donald Trump is spending his final days in office attacking leadership within his own party, this time the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, offering a possible preview of his broader post-presidential strategy to use his influence in the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

Trump, back at the White House after his Mar-a-Lago holiday with no public events on his schedule, attacked Sen. John Thune, a South Dakotan who is the No. 2 Senate Republican, in an afternoon tweet on New Year’s Day.

“I hope to see the great Governor of South Dakota @KristiNoem, run against RINO @SenJohnThune, in the upcoming 2022 Primary. She would do a fantastic job in the U.S. Senate, but if not Kristi, others are already lining up. South Dakota wants strong leadership, NOW!” he wrote in a tweet.

Trump has railed against Republican leadership broadly multiple times this week, but this time is naming names. Thune, the Senate majority whip, had been one of the top Republicans to speak in favor of accepting the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, drawing Trump’s ire.

“Once somebody gets 270, I understand they’re ruling right now, but I think that’s the process we have, yes. … In the end at some point you have to face the music. And I think once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on,” Thune said ahead of the formal electoral college voting process last month.

Trump’s tweet comes just 19 days before he leaves the White House and days before a joint session of Congress is set to formally certify the Electoral College results, with some Trump allies planning to join his baseless efforts to overturn the results of the election.

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A Little Girl Nursing a Kitten by James Northcote, 1795 (c) Paintings Collection

Trump’s childish tantrums threaten to disrupt GOP hopes of holding onto the Senate majority by winning two runoff elections in Georgia. Politico: Trump’s attacks on Senate Republicans complicate his Georgia message.

Trump’s last-minute moves to close out his presidency — from his demand for increased stimulus payments to his unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election — have put Republicans in a bind ahead of the state’s runoffs next week that will determine which party controls the Senate. And the president’s messaging is ironically aligned with that of Democrats, who see a renewed opening on their broader push for more coronavirus relief aid after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Though he is actively campaigning for the state’s two incumbent GOP senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, holding a Monday night rally to drive turnout to help save the Republican majority, Trump is continuing to run roughshod all over the party’s message for Tuesday’s must-win runoffs and, some Republicans worry, giving Democrats a perfect opening.

On Friday, Trump called the Republican-controlled Senate “pathetic” for failing to deliver on the $2,000 stimulus checks and other demands he wanted to pair with it after the Senate voted to override his veto of the $741 billion defense policy bill.

“Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need,” Trump tweeted, referring to Senate Republicans. ”Not fair, or smart!”

Indeed, Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have been jumping all over the president’s demand to boost the pandemic relief payments by $1,400. It’s a major closing argument for them — especially on the heels of Senate Republicans blocking a stand-alone bill to increase the value of the checks.

For some unknown reason, reports The New York Times: Trump Calls Georgia Senate Races ‘Illegal and Invalid’

ATLANTA — President Trump took to Twitter Friday evening to make the unfounded assertion that Georgia’s two Senate races are “illegal and invalid,” an argument that could complicate his efforts to convince his supporters to turn out for Republican candidates in the two runoff races that will determine which party controls the Senate.

The president is set to hold a rally in Dalton, Ga., on Monday, the day before Election Day, and Georgia Republicans are hoping he will focus his comments on how crucial it is for Republicans to vote in large numbers for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the state’s two incumbent Republican senators.

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, Portrait of Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange and kitty.

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, Portrait of Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange and kitty.

But Mr. Trump has continued to make the false claim that Georgia’s election system was rigged against him in the Nov. 3 general election. Some Republican leaders are afraid that his supporters will take the president’s argument seriously, and decide that voting in a “corrupt” system is not worth their time, a development that could hand the election to the Democrats.

Some strategists and political science experts in the state have said Mr. Trump’s assault on Georgia’s voting system may be at least partly responsible for the relatively light Republican turnout in the conservative strongholds of northwest Georgia, where Dalton is, in the early voting period that ended Thursday.

Mr. Trump made his assertion about the Senate races in a Twitter thread in which he also made the baseless claim that “massive corruption” took place in the general election, “which gives us far more votes than is necessary to win all of the Swing States.”

The president made a specific reference to a Georgia consent decree that he said was unconstitutional. The problems with this document, he argued further, render the two Senate races and the results of his own electoral loss invalid.

Mr. Trump was almost certainly referring to a March consent decree hammered out between the Democratic Party and Republican state officials that helped establish standards for judging the validity of signatures on absentee ballots in the state.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to ignore the racing coronavirus pandemic.

CNN: US surpasses 20 million Covid-19 cases while experts foresee tough times in January.

The US surpassed 20 million total recorded Covid-19 cases on Friday, hours after the country ushered in 2021 and left behind its deadliest month of the pandemic.

The nation also has set a Covid-19 hospitalization record for four straight days. The high counts are a grim reminder that even with 2020 behind us, the pandemic continues to ravage parts of the country. And some leaders warn the worst is still ahead.

“We are still going to have our toughest and darkest days,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN on Thursday.

More than 125,000 coronavirus patients were in US hospitals Friday, Covid Tracking Project data shows. 

(c) National Trust, Fenton House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

‘Psyche’, a White Persian Cat by Francis Sartorius I, 1787 (c) National Trust, Fenton House

Don’t miss this devastating piece on Trump’s epic failure at The New York Times: Trump’s Focus as the Pandemic Raged: What Would It Mean for Him?

It was a warm summer Wednesday, Election Day was looming and President Trump was even angrier than usual at the relentless focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

“You’re killing me! This whole thing is! We’ve got all the damn cases,” Mr. Trump yelled at Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, during a gathering of top aides in the Oval Office on Aug. 19. “I want to do what Mexico does. They don’t give you a test till you get to the emergency room and you’re vomiting.”

Mexico’s record in fighting the virus was hardly one for the United States to emulate. But the president had long seen testing not as a vital way to track and contain the pandemic but as a mechanism for making him look bad by driving up the number of known cases.

And on that day he was especially furious after being informed by Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, that it would be days before the government could give emergency approval to the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment, something Mr. Trump was eager to promote as a personal victory going into the Republican National Convention the following week.

“They’re Democrats! They’re against me!” he said, convinced that the government’s top doctors and scientists were conspiring to undermine him. “They want to wait!”

Throughout late summer and fall, in the heat of a re-election campaign that he would go on to lose, and in the face of mounting evidence of a surge in infections and deaths far worse than in the spring, Mr. Trump’s management of the crisis — unsteady, unscientific and colored by politics all year — was in effect reduced to a single question: What would it mean for him?

The result, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and others in contact with the White House, was a lose-lose situation. Mr. Trump not only ended up soundly defeated by Joseph R. Biden Jr., but missed his chance to show that he could rise to the moment in the final chapter of his presidency and meet the defining challenge of his tenure.

Read the whole thing at the NYT link.

The cat's lunch, Marguerite Gerard

The cat’s lunch, Marguerite Gerard

More stories to check out today:

Axios: Trump, the GOP arsonist.

The Washington Post: Judge dismisses Gohmert lawsuit seeking to stymie Biden electoral college count.

The New York Times: As Understanding of Russian Hacking Grows, So Does Alarm.

The New York Times: In Abrupt Reversal of Iran Strategy, Pentagon Orders Aircraft Carrier Home.

Times of Israel: Iran says killers of top general Soleimani, including Trump, ‘not safe on Earth’

ABC7 Los Angeles: Nancy Pelosi’s home vandalized with graffiti, fake blood on New Year’s Day.

The Los Angeles Times: Coughing, sneezing, vomiting: Visibly ill people aren’t being kept off planes.

Jay Rosen at PressThink: The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd.

Lois Beckett at The Guardian: Facts won’t fix this: experts on how to fight America’s disinformation crisis.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump and GOP Try to Destroy U.S. Democracy

“Yellow Cat Romps Butterfly” by Kim Hong-do (1745-1806)

Good Afternoon!!

I was so taken with the Korean folk art paintings that Dakinikat posted on Monday that I decided to focus on Korean cat art today. I hope these paintings will help you deal with today’s news, which is mostly stupid coup stories. Now that the Supreme court has rejected Trump’s last ditch effort to overturn the election results, he is melting down in even more embarrassing ways than ever. Will U.S. democracy survive? 

The New York Times: Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lawsuit by Texas that had asked the court to throw out the election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost in November, ending any prospect that a brazen attempt to use the courts to reverse his defeat at the polls would succeed.

The court, in a brief unsigned order, said Texas lacked standing to pursue the case, saying it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”

The order, coupled with another one on Tuesday turning away a similar request from Pennsylvania Republicans, signaled that a conservative court with three justices appointed by Mr. Trump refused to be drawn into the extraordinary effort by the president and many prominent members of his party to deny his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his victory.

Korean folk art - Magpie and Tiger

Korean folk art – Magpie and Tiger

It was the latest and most significant setback for Mr. Trump in a litigation campaign that was rejected by courts at every turn.

Texas’ lawsuit, filed directly in the Supreme Court, challenged election procedures in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It asked the court to bar those states from casting their electoral votes for Mr. Biden and to shift the selection of electors to the states’ legislatures. That would have required the justices to throw out millions of votes.

Mr. Trump has said he expected to prevail in the Supreme Court, after rushing the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in October in part in the hope that she would vote in Mr. Trump’s favor in election disputes.

None of the three justices Trump appointed were willing to hear the case. But Republican support for Trump’s efforts have done permanent damage to our country. 

The New York Times: ‘An Indelible Stain’: How the G.O.P. Tried to Topple a Pillar of Democracy.

The Supreme Court repudiation of President Trump’s desperate bid for a second term not only shredded his effort to overturn the will of voters: It also was a blunt rebuke to Republican leaders in Congress and the states who were willing to damage American democracy by embracing a partisan power grab over a free and fair election.

The court’s decision on Friday night, an inflection point after weeks of legal flailing by Mr. Trump and ahead of the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday, leaves the president’s party in an extraordinary position. Through their explicit endorsements or complicity of silence, much of the G.O.P. leadership now shares responsibility for the quixotic attempt to ignore the nation’s founding principles and engineer a different verdict from the one voters cast in November.

Many regular Republicans supported this effort, too — a sign that Mr. Trump has not just bent the party to his will, but pressed a mainstay of American politics for nearly two centuries into the service of overturning an election outcome and assaulting public faith in the electoral system. The G.O.P. sought to undo the vote by such spurious means that the Supreme Court quickly rejected the argument.

Cat looking at butterlfly Byeon Sang-byeok, mid 18th century

Cat looking at butterfly, Byeon Sang-byeok, mid 18th century

Even some Republican leaders delivered a withering assessment of the 126 G.O.P. House members and 18 attorneys general who chose to side with Mr. Trump over the democratic process, by backing a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to throw out some 20 million votes in four key states that cemented the president’s loss.

“The act itself by the 126 members of the United States House of Representatives, is an affront to the country,” said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It’s an offense to the Constitution and it leaves an indelible stain that will be hard for these 126 members to wipe off their political skin for a long time to come.”

Read more at the link.

In response to the SCOTUS decision, Texas GOP chairman Adam West suggested that states that supported the lawsuit should secede from the union. Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a more rational response:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to reject the sham GOP lawsuit demanding that Electoral College votes in four states be overturned and awarded to Donald Trump:

“The Court has rightly dismissed out of hand the extreme, unlawful and undemocratic GOP lawsuit to overturn the will of millions of American voters.

“The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House.  Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions.

“The pandemic is raging, with nearly 300,000 having died and tens of millions having lost jobs.  Strong, unified action is needed to crush the virus, and Republicans must once and for all end their election subversion – immediately.”

Trump reacted by skipping last night’s superspreader White House Christmas party and proceeding to melt down on Twitter. He was at it again this morning. I won’t reproduce the tweets; you can read them on Twitter if you want to endure the idiocy.

8298e29df3d8f2e58b972a7aa85ee14dSome thoughtful reactions to  Trump and GOP attacks on democracy:

Tom McCarthy at The Guardian: After the fact: the five ways Trump has tried to attack democracy post-election.

Historians could mark 2020 as the moment when Republicans applied the same zeal they have used to attack democracy in advance of elections, through voter suppression and gerrymandering, to attacking democracy on the back end, by trying to deny and overturn the results.

Here is a list of five post-election attacks on democracy by Donald Trump and Republicans that were new in 2020 but might haunt elections for years to come. 

Here’s McCarthy’s list–read the article for details: 1) Especially reckless and sustained election fraud charges, 2) Political pressure on local elections officials, 3) External legal challenges to the certification of state election results, 4) Internal political challenges to the certification of state election results, 5) The president’s role.

McCarthy on Trump’s behavior:

Should a president of the United States, after an election, be calling up county election officials in charge of certifying the results? Should a president invite lawmakers weighing an intervention in their state’s certification process for lunch? Should a president call out the mob on Twitter against a local election official or a state secretary of state who has resisted his schemes?

Whatever damage US democracy has sustained in 2020, much of it traces back to the source, to a president who did not see anything wrong in 2019 with coercing a foreign leader to try to take out a political opponent, who made the fealty of state governors a condition of pandemic aid, and who now has twisted the arms of elected officials across the United States in an effort to subvert the will of American voters.

The role that Trump has played in attacking the integrity of the American system is the most outrageous and unprecedented of all the unholy perversions of democracy that 2020 has seen. Whether that role will be replicated or reprised in future White Houses, and in future elections, could make all the difference.

Painting of Cats and Sparrows, drawn by Byeon Sang-bteij during the late period of Korean Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910

Painting of Cats and Sparrows, drawn by Byeon Sang-bteij during the late period of Korean Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910

William Saletan at Slate: Trump Is Finishing Russia’s Smear Campaign Against America.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a gift to Russia. He has undermined NATO, withheld military aid to Ukraine, and abandoned America’s commitments to democracy and human rights. He has excused Vladimir Putin’s crimes, yielded to Russian troops in the Middle East, and dismissed Russia’s 2016 election interference as a hoax. Now Trump has been voted out by Americans, but he’s still serving Russia. He’s devoting his final days in office—and suggesting he might devote his post-presidency—to a long-standing Russian objective: destroying faith in U.S. elections.

For weeks, Trump has rejected Joe Biden’s victory as a fraud. In interviewstweetsspeeches, and a campaign rally in Georgia, Trump has accused Democrats of using dead people, undocumented immigrants, and software to manipulate the outcome. These allegations aren’t just lies. They’re replications, almost word for word, of propaganda that was spread by Russia in the United States and adopted by the Trump campaign in 2016. Russia expected Trump to lose that election, and it planned to portray his loss as evidence that American elections were rigged, that the U.S. government was illegitimate, and that the United States wasn’t really a democracy. Now that Trump has lost to Biden, that campaign of slander is underway. But it’s not being driven by Russians. It’s being driven by Republicans.

Russia’s strategy is detailed in three reports: one by the U.S. Intelligence Community, another by special counsel Robert Mueller, and a third by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. The ultimate goal of the operation wasn’t to elect Trump. It was to spread the idea that “U.S. election results cannot be trusted.” In 2016, Putin’s propagandists used fake Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (“Army of Jesus,” “Secured Borders,” “Tea Party News”) to plant bogus rumors of “voter fraud” in multiple states. They told the same horror stories and used the same trigger words Republicans use now: “rigged,” “dead people,” “illegal aliens,” globalist-controlled voting machines, “tens of thousands of ineligible mail in … votes,” and “voter fraud caught in Philadelphia.”

Trump and his followers parroted this propaganda during the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump retweeted fake “#VoterFraud” updates written by Russian operatives. Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, Michael Flynn, and other Trump campaign advisers also retweeted messages from the Russian accounts. When the Russians circulated a false rumor that voting machines were rigged against Trump, he repeated it on Fox News. After the election, when Russian front groups spread the word that “illegals” and “machines” had robbed Trump of the popular vote, he repeated that, too. “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” he declared.

There’s much more at the link.

CUL_Tiger_Persimmon_Body02Ryan Cooper at The Week: The Constitution has an answer for seditious members of Congress. Cooper notes that the pandemic is growing exponentially, while Trump and the GOP do nothing about it. At the same time Republicans supported Trump’s effort to overturn the election results.

In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren’t for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.

But it’s worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy….

All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud….

…this lawsuit, even though it didn’t succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.

137837cc1c976c7b6ac3e2db96f77e4dThe Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]” How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It’s still insurrection even if it doesn’t work out.

Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey GrahamDavid Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.

Unfortunately the Democrats are probably too cowardly to take these necessary actions. Two more articles to check out along these lines.

The Hill: Democrat asks Pelosi to refuse to seat lawmakers supporting Trump’s election challenges.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Chris Murphy’s surprise floor speech raises tough questions for Democrats.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a nice weekend, and please stop by and leave a comment if you have the time and inclination.