Posted: December 1, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: abortion, Elon Musk, Georgia Senate runoffs, Herschel Walker, high cost of insulin, memory problems, Merrick Garland, Neurolink, Oath Keepers, old age, Raphael Warnock, seditious conspiracy verdicts, Trump taxes, voter suppression |
Two Sisters, by William Bowyer, British painter
Today is my 75th birthday. It seems like a big deal, but at the same time it’s really no big deal. I’m OK with being an old woman; I’m happy to be alive, sober, and generally healthy. I can’t remember proper names very well, but that’s been going on for years. I sometimes have trouble finding the names of things, but I find that if I give myself a minute or two those words will come to me. I still have a very good memory for facts and events.
My Mom is 97 now and has dementia. It’s almost as if she has already left us. She seems to know who I am, but I’m not absolutely sure. I miss the way we used to talk about everything. When I called her on Thanksgiving, she didn’t even seem to understand what that day means. It’s very sad, but I’m grateful for all the years we had–she was really my best friend in many ways.
I miss my Dad too. He has been gone now for 11 years. I miss talking to him about books and language. I miss his sense of humor, even his dad jokes. That’s what it’s like to be old, I guess–losing people. But they are still with you in your memories.
I hope I don’t sound too maudlin. It doesn’t feel that way to me, because I accept being old and I even enjoy it in a way. I have time now to think and to read as much as I want to. I’ve always had an irrational fear of running out of things to read; and so I’ve bought way too many books over the years. Now I’m afraid I won’t have time for all the books I want to read.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get to some news and comment.
The George Senate runoff election is coming up next Tuesday, Dec. 6. It’s difficult to believe, the the race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is very close, despite all the scandals surrounding Walker, the fact that he can’t form a coherent sentence, and his admission that he lives in Texas. Here’s the latest:
Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast: Herschel Walker Ex Comes Forward: He Attacked Me in a Rage.
A former longtime girlfriend of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker has come forward to detail a violent episode with the football star, who she believes is “unstable” and has “little to no control” over his mental state when he is not in treatment.
The woman, Dallas resident Cheryl Parsa, described an intimate and tumultuous five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s, beginning shortly after his divorce and continuing for a year after the publication of his 2008 memoir about his struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder.
Parsa, who has composed a book-length manuscript about her relationship with Walker, says she is speaking out because she is disturbed by Walker’s behavior on the campaign trail, which she claims exhibits telltale flare-ups of the disorder she tried to help him manage for half a decade.
Amer Ice Cream, by Richard Wallich
“He’s a pathological liar. Absolutely. But it’s more than that,” Parsa, who last had regular contact with Walker in 2019, told The Daily Beast. “He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control.” She said that when she was with Walker, he used his diagnosis as an “alibi” to “justify lying, cheating, and ultimately destroying families.”
Parsa provided a detailed account of a 2005 incident that turned violent after she caught Walker with another woman at his Dallas condo. She said Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her chest and neck, and swung his fist at her. “I thought he was going to beat me,” she recalled, and fled in fear.
Parsa is one of five women who were romantically involved with Walker who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article. All of them described a habit of lying and infidelity—including one woman who claimed she had an affair with Walker while he was married in the 1990s. All five women said they were willing to speak to expose the behavior of the man they now see running for Senate.
Maya King at The New York Times: In Georgia, Walker’s Pace in the Finish Worries Republican Allies.
Herschel Walker was being swamped by negative television ads. His Democratic opponents were preparing to flood the polls for early voting as soon as doors opened. After being hit by fresh allegations of carpetbagging, he was left with just over a week to make his final appeals to voters in the runoff for Georgia’s Senate seat.
But for five days, Mr. Walker was off the campaign trail.
The decision to skip campaigning over the crucial Thanksgiving holiday weekend has Mr. Walker’s Republican allies airing frustrations and concerns about his campaign strategy in the final stretch of the overtime election against Senator Raphael Warnock.
“We almost need a little bit more time for Herschel’s campaign to get everything off the ground,” said Jason Shepherd, the former chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, pointing to the transition from a general election campaign to a runoff sprint. Notably, the runoff campaign was cut from nine weeks to four by a Republican-backed law passed last year….
Mr. Shepherd said Mr. Walker’s decision not to campaign during Thanksgiving was just one troubling choice. He also pointed to a series of mailers sent by the Georgia Republican Party encouraging voters to find their polling places that contained broken QR codes as examples of poor organizing. And he raised concern about the steady stream of advertisements supporting Warnock, a first-term senator and pastor, on conservative talk radio and contemporary Christian stations.
By Gregory Frank Harris, 1953
That all sounds like good news for Democrats. It’s hilarious that in making it harder to vote, Republicans have ended up hurting themselves–just as they did in the runoff elections in 2020. But King notes that the race is still close despite all the scandals.
His campaign has been one of the most turbulent in recent memory: Mr. Walker was found to have lied or exaggerated details about his education, his business, his charitable giving and his work in law enforcement. He acknowledged a history of violent and erratic behavior, tied to a mental illness, and did not dispute an ex-wife’s accusation of assault. Two women claimed that he had urged them to have abortions, although he ran as a staunchly anti-abortion candidate. He denied their accounts. He regularly delivered rambling speeches, which Democrats widely circulated with glee.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Herschel Walker might be the most flawed Republican nominee in the nation this year,” said Rick Dent, a media consultant who has worked for candidates from both parties and plans to vote for Mr. Warnock.
Sahil Kapur at NBC News: Georgia Senate runoff tests the staying power of abortion in American elections.
The high-stakes Senate runoff in Georgia next week will be the first major test of abortion politics since the 2022 general election, when a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision galvanized proponents of abortion rights and boosted Democrats.
Abortion was a major issue on Election Day in Georgia, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock finished about 1 point ahead of Republican rival Herschel Walker, though narrowly missing the 50% he needed to win outright. The 26% of Georgians who ranked abortion as their top issue backed Warnock by a margin of 77% to 21%, NBC News exit polls showed.
Now, Democrats see an opening to weaponize it to finish the job against Walker in the Dec. 6 runoff, when a victory would give their party a 51st Senate seat.
“On December 6th, our rights are on the ballot. Herschel Walker wants a total ban on abortion nationwide,” says a TV ad by the Democratic group Georgia Honor, playing footage of Walker calling for a “no-exception” ban. “Raphael Warnock is fighting to protect our right to make our own health care decisions,” a narrator says.
Meanwhile, Walker sits at the center of a clash within the Republican Party about how to handle the issue in the new era. While some like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have sought to minimize abortion and pivot to other issues, leading anti-abortion advocates insist that’s a losing strategy and want Republicans to lean in and paint Democrats as the real extremists.
Walker is taking the approach preferred by the anti-abortion advocates, embracing their rhetoric equating abortion to infanticide and attacking Warnock for supporting legislation that would protect the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal restrictions.
The problem with that is that Walker has urged at least 2 women to get abortions and paid for them.
Remembering the Good Times, by Sam Sidders
The New York Times also has a piece by Rick Rojas on another important issue in Georgia–the high cost of insulin: A Resonant Topic in Georgia’s Senate Runoff: Insulin Prices.
…[O]ne campaign issue relevant to many voters has little to do with the highly partisan horse race. Rather, it involves one of the most common chronic diseases in America, diabetes, and the soaring cost of the medicine used to treat it, insulin. In both the general and runoff campaigns, Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, has made much of his efforts in Congress to cap the price of insulin at $35 a month, talking them up in ads, debates and speeches.
“It has resonated with just about everyone,” said Dr. Kris Ellis, a physician who also owns the Bearfoot Tavern in Macon, where Mr. Warnock made a recent campaign stop. “If you don’t have diabetes, you know someone with diabetes.”
He was describing an unsettling reality in Georgia, as in much of the South, where diabetes rates are staggeringly high and the escalating cost of insulin over the years has led to painful choices and, for some, catastrophic consequences.
As campaign issues go, the price of insulin is nowhere near as contentious as just about everything else raised in the four-week runoff between Mr. Warnock and Herschel Walker, the former football star who is his Republican challenger. Even so, interviews with Dr. Ellis and a number of other voters suggested it had broken through the noise of the high-decibel contest, which Georgia requires because neither candidate won a majority of the vote in the general election.
Of course, the candidate who has tried to deal with this issue is Sen. Warnock.
Mr. Warnock has focused on lowering insulin prices since arriving in the Senate nearly two years ago, motivated in part by hundreds of letters that have poured into his office, pleading with him to do something. He has also described seeing the ravaging impacts of diabetes, including losing limbs and eyesight, on congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he is the senior pastor.
“This isn’t an ideological matter, it’s a practical one — and it has broad support across the political spectrum,” Mr. Warnock wrote last spring in an opinion essay published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I sure hope he wins. If he does, the Democrats will have a true majority in the Senate. I can’t wait for the results to come in on Tuesday night.
In other news, yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee finally received six years of Trump’s tax returns.
Katlyn Polantz at CNN: House committee receives Donald Trump’s federal tax returns from IRS.
The House Ways and Means Committee now has six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, ending a yearslong pursuit by Democrats to dig into one of the former president’s most closely guarded personal details.
“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.
The spokesperson did not provide any additional information. Federal courts had decided the House could request six years of Trump’s returns, after the committee had requested them in 2019 and again in 2021, according to public court records.
The handover had been on hold, until the Supreme Court declined last week to intervene. Several judges, including Republican appointees, have found the House had power to request the returns from the IRS….
The committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, had sought six years of Trump’s tax records, primarily from the time he served as president. That included records about both Trump personally and several of his corporate entities.
The panel is planning to meet Thursday to get briefed on the legal ramifications of the section of the tax law that Neal used to request Trump’s tax returns, according to a Neal aide.
Democrats are not expected to review the tax returns at this session, and the documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.
Only the Body Withers, by Lucie Bilodeau
Then what is going to happen when Republicans take over control of the the committee? We don’t know yet. I think the Democrats should get busy look at the returns before that happens, but what do I know?
Yesterday, Attorney General Merrick Garland held a press conference at which he discussed the guilty verdicts in the Oath Keepers trial as well as the DOJ’s oversight of the water crisis in Jackson, MS. The Washington Post: Garland praises Oath Keepers verdict, won’t say where Jan. 6 probe goes.
A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his Justice Department would continue to “work tirelessly” to hold accountable those responsible for efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors highlighted the defendants’ links to key allies of President Donald Trump, such as Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
But Garland declined to say Wednesday if he expected prosecutors to eventually file charges against them or any other people who did not physically participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I don’t want to speculate on other investigations or parts of other investigations,” Garland told reporters at a briefing where he also touted Justice Department efforts to establish federal oversight of the water supply system in Jackson, Miss….
Tuesday’s verdicts upheld a key Justice Department argument laid out in the seven-week-long trial: that the breach of the Capitol was not an isolated event, but rather a culmination or component of wider plotting by extremists who wanted to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. In this case, the jury found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs, at least partially responsible for staging firearms and preparing to forcibly oppose federal authority. Both were convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” a rarely used charge that is among the most serious levied so far in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation.
Justice Department officials had been eyeing the Oath Keepers verdict to help decide whether to file criminal charges against other high-profile, pro-Trump figures who had roles in the buildup to the violence, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
Garland also said he hopes to get access to the interviews conducted by the House January 6 Committee.
At the briefing with reporters Tuesday, Garland also said that he has asked the House Jan. 6 committee — which has been pursuing a separate investigation into the attack — for all interview transcripts and evidence that it has collected. That’s long been a point of tension between the Justice Department and Congress, with the committee yet to hand over all the materials.
“We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigation,” Garland said.
Old lady having a tea, by Gaitano Bellai
From Raw Story, a report of an MSNBC interview with Bob Woodward: Bob Woodward: Oath Keepers convictions puts new pressure on DOJ to indict Trump.
The convictions of two Oath Keepers leaders on seditious conspiracy charges puts new pressure on the Department of Justice to indict Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his lieutenant Kelly Meggs were found guilty this week for their roles in the U.S. Capitol assault, and other militia members were convicted on other charges, and Woodward told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” those cases would weigh on attorney general Merrick Garland and newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.
“It gives them a strong basis,” Woodward said. “I think we are now at this point that the Justice Department, the new special counsel is going to have to indict Trump or explain why they are not indicting him. Now, that’s certainly possible that they won’t — prosecutors have discretion, but the case of the violation — I’m sorry, it’s technical 18 U.S.C. 371 — conspiring, working to subvert a lawful function of government is right there in plain sight.”
Garland responded to the Oath Keepers convictions by pledging to hold others accountable for trying to overturn the 2020 election, and the House Select Committee will decide soon whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department against the former president.
“In a way, they’re interesting fodder for us to discuss,” Woodward said, “but I really think if you get, you know, Garland is there talking about the dedication and efforts that people have made in doing this investigation. Dedication and effort is wonderful. What is most wonderful is evidence, and they have compelling evidence.”
Watch the video at the Raw Story link.
Just a few months ago, I knew nothing about Elon Musk. Now he’s everywhere. Here’s the latest crazy Musk story:
The Daily Beast: Elon Musk Claims Neuralink Will Put Brain Chips in Humans in 6 Months.
Neuralink, the neurotech startup spearheaded by Chief Twit Elon Musk, held their much-ballyhooed and oft-delayed tech demo on Wednesday night—promising a lot while showing little in the way of progress towards their lofty promises.
Musk was joined on stage by numerous Neuralink engineers and researchers to explain the technology they’ve been working on for the past few years. This included the N1 link, the company’s wireless brain-computer interface (BCI); and the R1, a robot that the company said would be able to implant an N1 in a human brain. The bot was present at the event conducting a simulated surgery on a dummy while presentations occurred.
The team also announced that the N1 chip was capable of being wirelessly charged, which would be a massive improvement in most current BCI technology which typically requires the devices to be tethered.
Painting by Jantina Peperkamp.
“I could have a Neuralink device implanted right now and you wouldn’t even know,” Musk joked, later adding, “In one of these demos I will.”
However, Musk announced that it would still be at least half a year until Neuralink would be able to begin human trials. “We’ve submitted most of our paperwork to the FDA. In about six months, we should be able to have our first Neuralink in humans,” he said.
The demo was initially slated for Oct. 31 but was delayed by Musk just eight days before it was set to launch. He did not give a reason for the schedule push. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the event itself was also delayed by more than half an hour before it started. Musk then took to the stage and stumbled through an awkward, meandering monologue where he touched on topics from AI, to how BCIs work, to something about how humans are all cyborgs.
WTF? I have no idea what these people are talking about. Maybe Quixote knows what this is all about?
“The overarching goal of Neuralink is to create a whole brain interface,” Musk explained, later using a photo of the character Rick Sanchez from the TV show Rick and Morty to illustrate his point. “So a generalized input-output device that in the long term that could interface with every aspect of your brain, and in the short term can interface with any section of your brain and solve things that cause debilitating issues for people.”
Musk also made a number of very lofty promises that should be taken with a Cybertruck-sized grain of salt if his history of overpromising and under delivering is any indication. This included the idea that the Neuralink will be able to restore vision even to those who were born blind, and also that it could restore mobility back to those who have had their spinal cord severed.
He mentioned that the N1 would allow patients to use it wirelessly and remotely in most any setting outside of a lab—which would be groundbreaking if it, you know, actually ever happens. Rajesh Rao, Hwang professor and director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington, told The Daily Beast that this would represent a significant leap forward for BCI technologies—and showcase something that has truly never been done before.
OK, now I’m starting to get it. Read more at the Daily Beast link. I just wish Musk would hurry up and go to Mars and leave us alone.
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
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Posted: January 5, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: David Perdue, Donald Trump, Georgia Senate runoffs, John Ossoff, Josh Hawley, Kelly Loeffler, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, Raphael Warnock, Ted Cruz, Trump Georgia rally, Trump phone call to Raffensperger, Trump supporters' Jan. 6 protest |
Is it really only Tuesday? I’m already exhausted and the week has barely begun. Today is the day that voters in Georgia will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. Trump held a rally in Georgia last night, supposedly to support Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, the GOP candidates, but he spend most of his time arguing that he actually won the November election and should remain in office for four more years. Tomorrow Trump’s army of seditionists will be trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election–in Congress and in the streets of DC. Trump has been encouraging them to come and cause trouble in the streets and yesterday, he announced plans to address the angry rabble during their “protests.” Here’s the latest:
Georgia Runoff Elections
NBC News: Georgia voters head to the polls in pivotal Senate runoff elections.
Georgia voters are heading to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in pivotal runoff elections that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. ET in the state and they close at 7 p.m. ET. Voters who are in line by 7 p.m. can still cast a ballot, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. More than 3 million Georgia residents have already cast ballots in the two races during the early voting period that started Dec. 14.
In the races, Democrat Jon Ossoff is running against Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired on Sunday with the start of the new Congress, and Democrat Raphael Warnock is trying to unseat GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler. The runoffs come after none of the candidates captured 50 percent of the vote in November’s election.
The outcome Tuesday will decide whether Republicans will retain control of the Senate or Democrats retake the majority, which would give President-elect Joe Biden a better chance at passing his agenda through Congress. If both Democrats win, the chamber would be split 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaker for Democrats on party-line votes. But the party would still face obstacles given the need for 60 votes to advance major legislation.
From Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball:
With Election Day voting underway in the crucial Senate runoffs in Georgia, we continue to see both races as Toss-ups. But after an early-voting period where Democrats may have performed better than they did in the lead-up to the November election, Republicans may need to follow suit with an impressive day-of-election performance to defend Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) against challengers Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D), respectively.
Georgians have cast roughly 3 million votes so far in the contest through early in-person and mail-in voting. Even without accounting for any Election Day votes, this is an impressive turnout, about 60% of the roughly 5 million votes cast in Georgia’s high-turnout November election.
The last time Georgia had a Senate runoff, in 2008, only 2.1 million votes were cast compared to 3.9 million votes cast for president in the general election. So a dozen years ago, turnout in the runoff was just a little more than half that of the general election, and then-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) won the runoff by 15 points after leading in the November vote by just three points.
The turnout in these runoffs as a percentage of the general election vote is going to be markedly higher than in 2008. The key question is how much higher.
The votes cast before Election Day in these Senate runoffs may be more Democratic leaning than those cast before the November general election. Perhaps the most encouraging data point for Democrats is that the Black voter share of the pre-Election Day vote is up a few points from the pre-Election Day Black vote in the general election. Given that Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrats, any increase in the Black share of the electorate is very important.
Read more analysis at the link.
A couple more Georgia election stories to check out:
Takeo Spikes at USA Today: Georgia’s rural Black voters were ignored and suppressed. Now they might flip the Senate.
NBC News: In Georgia, Democrats close with populist pitch vowing $2,000 stimulus checks.
Trump’s Final Rally
Politico: Trump uses Georgia rally to pressure GOP on Electoral College challenge.
President Donald Trump came to Georgia on Monday to campaign for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in an attempt to help Republicans retain control of the Senate. But he very quickly revealed another motivation for traveling to this ultra-conservative enclave.
“Hello, Georgia. By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia. There’s no way,” Trump said immediately after taking the stage. “That was a rigged election. But we are still fighting it.” [….]
“People will remember the people who don’t support us,” Trump said of Wednesday’s joint session of Congress, when lawmakers will vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes.
Speaking at a rally here, Trump berated members of his party who have refused to support his attempt to overturn Biden’s win in November, and continued to promote falsehoods that the election was stolen from him — spending relatively little time talking up the incumbent senators whose runoff elections will take place on Tuesday.
He vowed to campaign against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2022 because they certified Biden’s win in the state, and he praised Republicans who plan to challenge the Electoral College results in Congress this week.
On Twitter, Aaron Rupar reported that the audience seemed bored when Trump briefly tried to talk about today’s Senate runoff elections.
Tomorrow’s Trump Fan “Protests”
Politico: MAGA marchers plot final D.C. stand on Jan. 6.
Timed to the day when Congress will formally certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, the MAGA crowd is trying to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers to refuse to seat Biden over fabricated voter-fraud claims. It’s a doomed plan, given the makeup of Congress, the absent evidence behind the rigged election allegations and the fact that every important state has already certified Biden’s win. Yet that hasn’t stopped a swell of Trump supporters from making plans — and the president from teasing his own appearance.
According to disinformation and extremist researchers, the Jan. 6 gathering will look similar to November’s Million MAGA March — a mashup of garden-variety Trump supporters and more extreme members of the far right, with no apparent central organizing apparatus. Stop the Steal, a group affiliated with pro-Trump super PACs and allies of Trump adviser Roger Stone, has filed for permits and plans to protest outside the Capitol, but other groups have also claimed to be the true official planners.
Click the link for more details.
ABC News: As he seeks to prevent certification of election, Trump plans to attend DC rally.
As a joint session of Congress convenes Wednesday to formally certify the Electoral College votes, President Donald Trump plans to speak at a “Save America” rally near the White House according to sources familiar with his plans.
Thousands are expected to attend the rally on the Ellipse, a 52-acre park just south of the White House, as pro-Trump supporters descend on the nation’s capital for a series of marches to protest the results of the 2020 election.
The gathering will mark the first rally-style event Trump will attend in Washington since he was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden in November. Trump has previously done drive-bys in his motorcade and flyovers aboard Marine One to support those gathered to protest in Washington, D.C.
Over the weekend the president tweeted, “I will be there. Historic day!” replying to a tweet from one of the rally organizers.
Yesterday, the Proud Boys leader was arrested and also sued. Read the details at The Washington Post: Proud Boys leader arrested in the burning of church’s Black Lives Matter banner, D.C. police say.
DC is preparing for possible violence from the Trump cultists.
NBC News: D.C. mayor calls on National Guard as pro-Trump protests set for capital.
The Washington Post: D.C. houses of worship beef up security as Trump defenders descend on the nation’s capital.
On Trump and the GOP Congressional Sedition Caucus
John Cassidy at The New Yorker: Trump’s Authoritarian Moment Is Here.
If there were any doubt remaining that Donald Trump still represents a dire threat to American democracy, the events of this weekend dispelled it. As a new Congress gathers to confirm that the voters chose Joe Biden to be the next President, a proceeding that should be a mere formality, Trump is desperately trying to overturn the result and stay in office. Even more disturbing, large numbers of elected Republicans are joining in this unprecedented effort to reject the popular will. If the Republic gets through the next two weeks without a catastrophe, we must surely take steps to protect ourselves against the next would-be authoritarian, which could well be Trump himself in 2024.
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported the contents of a lengthy phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state. Raffensperger is one of the honorable Republicans at the state and local level who have stood up against the President’s efforts to bully them into calling the election for the loser: him. The conversation was a long one—it lasted almost an hour—but the transcript shows that this wasn’t the Trump of the campaign trail or the White House press room, endlessly going off on tangents. Throughout the conversation, he remained focussed on his counterfactual narrative—that he carried Georgia easily—and a specific set of demands for Raffensperger.
“So look, all I want to do is this,” the President said at one point. “I just want to find eleven thousand seven hundred and eighty votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” At numerous points, Trump repeated incendiary allegations about voter fraud in Georgia that some of his supporters have been putting forward. Among other things, he claimed that five thousand dead people voted, three hundred thousand fake ballots were submitted, and that Fulton County, an area the former Vice-President won big, shredded three thousand pounds of ballots and covertly removed voting machines. Raffensperger and his general counsel, who was also on the call, calmly pointed out that his office had investigated all of these claims and found them to be false. (Georgia’s state supreme court and a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush rejected the Trump campaign’s claims as well.) Trump wasn’t to be put off. “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need eleven thousand votes,” he repeated. “Fellas, I need eleven thousand votes. Give me a break.”
Since the election, some commentators have downplayed Trump’s refusal to accept the result, saying that he was merely exercising the inviolate American right to sue. But this wasn’t Rudy Giuliani standing outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in a Philadelphia strip mall. It was the President of the United States speaking from the Oval Office and leaning on a local election official, with the backing of his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who was also on the call, and a number of other Trump lawyers, including Cleta Mitchell, a partner at the corporate law firm Foley & Lardner. “The entire call is astonishing,” Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Justice Department, commented on Twitter, after the Post report was published. “The bullying, the threats, the insults, the credulous embrace of discredited conspiracy theories. Like a crime boss, Trump occasionally says that all he wants is the truth. But he doesn’t—he wants the win.”
George F. Will at The Washington Post: Hawley, Cruz and their Senate cohort are the Constitution’s most dangerous domestic enemies.
On a conference call last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus that, in his 36 Senate years, he has twice cast votes to take the nation to war and once to remove a president, but that the vote he will cast this Wednesday to certify Joe Biden’s electoral college victory will be the most important of his career. McConnell (R-Ky.) understands the recklessness of congressional Republicans who are fueling the doubts of a large majority of Republicans about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
The day before McConnell’s somber statement, Missouri’s freshman Republican senator, Josh Hawley, announced that on Wednesday, 14 days before Biden will be inaugurated, he will challenge the validity of Biden’s election. Hawley’s conscience regarding electoral proprieties compels him to stroke this erogenous zone of the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominating electorate.
Hawley’s stance quickly elicited panicky emulation from Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, another 2024 aspirant. Cruz led 10 other senators and senators-elect in a statement that presents their pandering to what terrifies them (their Trumpkin voters) as a judicious determination to assess the “unprecedented allegations” of voting improprieties, “allegations” exceeding “any in our lifetimes.”
So, allegations in sufficient quantity, although of uniformly risible quality, validate senatorial grandstanding that is designed to deepen today’s widespread delusions and resentments. While Hawley et al. were presenting their last-ditch devotion to President Trump as devotion to electoral integrity, Trump was heard on tape browbeating noncompliant Georgia election officials to “find” thousands of votes for him. Awkward.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
The New York Times: Pence’s Choice: Side With the Constitution or His Boss.
Speaking to supporters of President Trump on Monday at the Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga., Vice President Mike Pence implored the crowd to vote in the two runoff elections Tuesday that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
“I am here for one reason and one reason only, and that is that Georgia and America need David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler back in the Republican majority,” Mr. Pence said.
But the crowd had a message for him, too.
“We need you do the right thing Jan. 6!” one supporter cried out. “Stop the steal!” shouted others. The crowd applauded.
If Mr. Pence has tried to skirt Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power, his reception in Georgia on Monday served as the latest reminder of the delicate role he will play on Wednesday, when Congress conducts what is typically a ceremonial duty of opening and counting certificates of electoral votes.
As president of the Senate, Mr. Pence is expected to preside over the pro forma certification of the Electoral College vote count in front of a joint session of Congress. It is a constitutionally prescribed, televised moment in which Mr. Pence will name the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
What Pence said in Georgia:
“I know we all have got our doubts about the last election,” Mr. Pence said Monday in Georgia, attempting to assuage Trump supporters. “I want to assure you that I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities. I promise you, come this Wednesday, we will have our day in Congress.”
It was not clear, perhaps by design, what he meant. Mr. Pence does not have unilateral power to affect the outcome of Wednesday’s proceedings. But he has carefully tried to look like he is loyally following the president’s lead even as he goes through a process that is expected to end with him reading out a declaration that Mr. Biden is the winner.
We’ll find out tomorrow.
So that’s what’s happening over the next two days. It should be interesting. Take care of yourselves and take breaks from the news as needed!
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