Over the last four years the Republican Party as a whole, but especially in Congress, lost its way. They abandoned everything that they used to believe in in order to assuage the Tweeter-in-Chief. As a result, the party has been on life support most of that time. We can now call the time of death as Sunday 23 August, 2020.
The Republican Party is now officially a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump Family, Inc.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, the party announced that for the first time in its history, they would have no platform. In a one page declaration of “whereases” assailing the media and affirming their enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, they concluded by saying,
“Resolved, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda;
Resolved, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention.”
I guess it boils down to “I’ll have what he’s having.” More succinctly, the Republicans now publicly declare that they stand for nothing. There is no official vision, plan, policy, or goal that they will try to achieve over the next four years. Whatever the president says at the moment, is, I suppose, what they will do, even if tomorrow they need to reverse course when he changes his mind after seeing something on Fox News. The Republicans will just wait around for a kingly pronouncement.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trump does not have a vision or plan for the future either. In interview after interview on Fox News and other friendly venues, interviewers have tossed him softball questions as to what to expect over a possible second term. So far, zilch, nada, zip, nothing. His replies only have been rambling statements about past grievances, pet peeves, or “acing” a cognitive ability test.
I find it sad, and a bad omen for our country. I believe firmly in the two party system as part of the checks and balances that keep our country on a relatively middle of the road path to the future.
Arguably, many past platforms may have been exercises in producing wish lists by those that write them. More positively, they provide a blueprint, plan, policies and aspirational goals that the respective parties want to accomplish should they carry the election. Now, according to their own document, there is nothing that the Republicans want to achieve other than whatever Mr. Donald J. Trump and his family declare in the moment that they should do.
The Republican Party is dead. The Cult of Trump is alive and well.
The Republican National Convention is now nothing short of a coronation for Mr. Trump. Indeed, Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared that the upcoming election would be “rigged.” Yesterday, to kick off his convention, he declared that “the only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” Think about that. His party has given him carte blanche to do whatever he wants, and he publicly declares, repeatedly, that the only election result he will accept is if he wins.
That is a combination that should concern us all, especially given Mr. Trump’s increasingly lawless actions.
I do not wish to insult the intelligence or motives of those that support Mr. Trump. It is a long American tradition to distrust the government, the media, and experts about anything and everything. Mr. Trump is nothing else if not a salesman. He knows how to tap into that resentment. No matter the facts, or the eloquence of the argument, no one is going to sway the die-hard Trump supporter that they should stop supporting him. Listening to the language showered upon him in the first day of the Republican Convention shows he has attained a Messianic following. It is truly a cult of personality. His support rests upon cultural and emotional issues, not a coherent vision for the future. That is not going to change no matter how outrageous his behavior becomes over the coming months. His followers are going to “stick it to the man” no matter what.
The establishment Republican Party that may have moderated his behavior ceased to exist. They will not do their Constitutional duty. I blame the Republican members of Congress and their obvious cowardice in the face of actions by a president that they would have wholeheartedly condemned in any other modern president Republican or Democrat. Perhaps future historians will be able to figure out why there has been such a wide-spread display of cowardice on their part. I cannot explain it.
It is now up to the voters to decide. We need to weed out the merely outrageous aspects of Mr. Trump’s behavior that distract us nearly every wearying day. Instead it is time to focus on those actions of his, as aided and abetted by a cowering Senate, that threaten our future as a Republic.
We cannot be intimidated or cowed. Too much depends on it. Please vote, no matter what.
The President of the United States wants to take away your vote. He tells us this now almost daily. Four years ago he told us that he actually won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. On 27 November 2016 he claimed that “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He had no proof of that then and he still has no proof. It did not happen. Of course, for a president that has told over 20,000 documented lies, we should not be surprised that he lied about this.
He continues to make this claim, and now that the 2020 election is approaching, he continues to assert that it will be “rigged,” “fraudulent,” “corrupt” and a host of other unsubstantiated claims that may put the integrity of the election into question in some people’s minds. In a July 2020 interview with Fox News host Mike Wallace, the president (of the United States!) would not commit to accepting the results of the election if he lost.
Remember, even though he is a known liar, the president, just like Saddam Hussein did, tells us what he is actually trying to do. He is up front about it. In my opinion, he tells us what he is going to do — in this case, try to steal the election — because he knows no one will stop him. Appeals to honor, ethics or the law have no impact on him. Repeat after me: “He just doesn’t care.”
The key feature of his intended interference in the upcoming election is his knowledge that he is likely to lose. He created an Electoral College victory in 2016 by the slimmest of margins (roughly 75,000 votes spread out over three states) and is unlikely to get more votes in 2020. Low turnout and protest votes against Secretary Hillary Clinton allowed him to sneak by. He knows that. The conditions in 2020 are totally different and the voter turnout will be very large — a fact not in his favor. What to do? Suppress the vote, claim fraud, and fight with every available tool in his dirty tricks bag to keep votes from being counted.
Is this my usual hyperbolic ranting about the Worst. President. Ever? No. The president told us what he is going to do. Right up front. In July he was complaining that the results of the election would not be available for “days, months or even years later.” He also said, wait for it, that the election results could be tied up in court for years. Aha! What is Mr. Trump’s favorite weapon? The courts. He sues everybody about everything. All the time. Rest assured that if he loses the election there will be a prolonged legal effort to invalidate ballots or even the results in key states that he loses.
More forthright still, the president has taken to attacking the validity of the process surrounding voting by mail. He claims absentee ballots are okay (he and his family vote that way) but mail-in ballots are not. (Yes, I know that they are the same thing.) Again, there is no evidence of any nefarious activity. Here is really what he means, as he put in a May 2020 Tweet (in all caps): “MAIL IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION.” (It isn’t clear to me whether the tragedy is the end of the Republican Party or mail-in voting.)
In other words, the higher the turnout, by making it easier for people to vote during a pandemic, the less chance he has of winning.
What is he doing about it? Trying to destroy the United States Postal Service. As usual, he is upfront about it. I will relate the details of his scheme, but perhaps all you need to know is what he is continually saying, and to also think about the ramifications of what he is saying. Mr. Trump is blocking funding to the USPS to purposely keep the system from being able to handle the increased mail. Specifically, he is blocking 25 billion dollars for the post office and 3.5 billion to help states with the mailed ballots. This was supposed to be part of the Coronavirus aid package. His opposition is a major impediment to continuing the aid which ran out at the end of July. He explicitly tied them together in an interview on the Fox Business Network. But I’ll let him tell you how he is trying to disrupt a smooth election.
“Now they need that money to make the post office work, so it can take all of those millions and millions of ballots. Now, if we don’t make a deal, it means they won’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
In May, the president installed a crony of his as Postmaster General. Since then over 30 seasoned leaders in the postal system have been reassigned, lay-offs have begun, there is a freeze on hiring and new required procedures have created great backlogs of undelivered mail. Think that will have an impact on mail-in (or absentee, if you prefer) voting? In addition, the new Postmaster General has decided that ballot information and ballots themselves will be treated as the class of mail with which they are marked. Traditionally, the states mail in bulk using third class rates with the knowledge that the postal system will move those pieces as if they were first class mail. So, if the states and the voters want to make sure that the ballots get out and back in on time, they have to spend millions of dollars more than before — states that are already seriously cash poor as they have worked to fight the pandemic.
All of this hurts everyday Americans. Millions receive needed prescriptions by mail. Others receive checks by mail. Business transactions are hurt. And on and on. All because the president is afraid of the voting results if Americans can vote without fear of catching a disease that has already killed over 165,000 of our fellow citizens.
Here is why it matters. First, 34 states currently have “no excuse” absentee ballots. That means you do not have to be out of the state to vote absentee. Other states have pending legislation to implement similar procedures. As more states move in that direction, the devil is in the details. States count absentee ballots if they are post marked on or before (some require at least a day before) Election Day. Thirty-two states require that the ballots reach election officials no later than, or the day before, Election Day. The other eighteen states have deadlines ranging from the day after to three days after to ten days after the election.(Some states have legislation pending that may increase or decrease the numbers with these requirements.)
Do you see a pattern here? Now you know why the president will provide no money for the postal system and why he placed a crony in charge of the system who is making changes that significantly slow down the process. Time matters.
So let’s sum it up. Mr. Trump is sabotaging the postal system to disenfranchise voters. It is probable that with the mailed ballots that make it in, the count will not be over on election night. It might be election week. Pretend that Mr. Trump is leading on Election Day in some key states that have large amounts of mail-in ballots. Over the following days, Mr. Biden overtakes Mr. Trump as the counts finish up. Mr. Trump calls it a fraudulent election and takes steps to overturn the results. He goes to court in every state that he claims he should have won. Chaos ensues. The mind can conjure all types of scenarios as to what he does in those circumstances. Possible nightmare scenarios.
Fret not, however, as all reputable scholars and Constitutional experts from all political views agree that the Constitution is clear that the president’s term ends at noon on 20 January 2021. Period.
If there is in fact no resolution to the election by then (inconceivable to me) then the third in line behind the former president and vice-president is the Speaker of the House.
President Nancy Pelosi.
For quite some time now, life seems like an episode in the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day.” Day after day after day we hear the same things. If you watch the news regularly at some point during the day, an expert clinician, a physician or a nurse in an overwhelmed hospital, an established epidemiologist or other recognized health care expert will come on to be asked how to stop the spread of Covid-19. Given that we have passed 4.5 million cases and 155,000 American deaths since 1 March, it is an important question. The response, day after day, is to wear a face covering, social distance, wash one’s hands and don’t hang out in large crowds especially inside. Not hard. Every day there is also someone who recovers after a severe bout of Covid and says “I thought it was a hoax.” Or, “I’m young and I didn’t think it would really be that bad. But it was. The worst feeling in my entire life.” Sadly, we often hear the loved one of a person dead from Covid say something similar.
I can only think that we are a country of morons or losers or both. How hard is it? We know what to do. Why don’t we do it?
Today’s news is that the virus is spreading into every corner of the United States. It is only a matter of time and it is going to be bad. Real bad. In just the last week alone there were 453,659 new cases in the United States and the rate of hospitalizations grows everyday. Over the last six days we averaged 1,233 deaths a day. At that rate we will have approximately 37,000 more Americans dead by the end of August. Remember when people thought that estimates of a 100,000 deaths total from this pandemic was considered to be too high and a lot of hyperbole to scare people? At the current rate we will be at or over 200,000 dead around Labor Day. Time to celebrate the beginning of fall!
Increasing numbers of experts (you know, real ones like scientists and doctors not the ones that say to inject bleach into your lungs) believe that we need to start over from the beginning. Reset the stage. Shutdown uniformly across the United States for 4-6 weeks — an actual shutdown, not a “if you want to” shutdown — to stop the spread and to be able to have a significant drop in cases so that “testing, tracing, isolation” actually has a chance to change the equation.
But no, I’m bored. I don’t want to do this anymore. I think I’ll hang out with all my friends for a little pandemic party. Haven’t seen you for awhile. Here’s a hug for you and a hug for you and a little Covid for you, and hey buddy, here’s a little Covid for you too. And then be surprised when people get sick.
It turns out that we cannot merely wish it away or ignore it. It is not business as usual.
On top of the pandemic, but because of it, our economy is in the proverbial toilet. For the quarter ending 30 June, the U.S. saw the worst decline for a single quarter since at least 1875 — perhaps in the history of the U.S. Way to go guys! We even beat the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Don’t worry, though. The Senate is on top of it. The House passed a bill back in the middle of May to extend unemployment benefits, protect people from being evicted because they can’t pay their rent and other assistance for those that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Called the Heroes Act (H.R.6800), it passed and was sent to the Senate on 20 May. And sat. And sat. And as of 31 July, all the worker benefits passed by Congress to help the economy during the pandemic expired. But rest assured, someday the Senate will act to help those in need. Maybe. They don’t want people to get too comfortable with this easy lifestyle.
One of the main concerns of those critical of the Heroes Act is that it continues the $600 weekly supplement to existing state unemployment insurance. The argument is that it is too much because people can make more money by staying home rather than by going to work, which is why some businesses are struggling to reopen. Let’s take a closer look.
Yes, the money is in addition to state unemployment, but most states pay roughly 35 to 40% of one’s salary up to a limit that varies by state. However, when you do the math, $600 breaks down to $15/hour for a 40 hour work week. As a national average, babysitters make $20.30 an hour for two kids. Not exactly the stuff of aspiring millionaires.
Such thinking also avoids the difficult issues. Perhaps people staying home and not exposing themselves or their families during a pandemic is a good thing. It helps to stop the spread of the virus. Additionally, the “too generous” argument ignores other issues such as those workers are staying home because they may not have access to child care during the pandemic or because with schools closed, they need to stay home and help give their kids an education. Perhaps they rely on public transportation which has been halted or is experiencing severe service cuts due to the pandemic. Maybe it’s all of those and more. And of course it presumes that their place of business reopened and is willing to hire them back.
With the economy already in the dumpster how is it going to recover if people don’t have any money to spend? Have you seen the food lines around the country? (In the 30’s they were called bread lines but now you can stay in your car and also get a healthier selection of food! Isn’t progress amazing?) In the greatest country on earth? Yep. A bunch of freeloaders according to some.
Perhaps you could just follow Ivanka Trump’s new initiative for out of work Americans to “Find Something New.” In her position as a Senior Adviser to the President she is advocating that roughly 15 million unemployed Americans go back to school, or develop IT skills or use on-line learning or sign on to learn a new skill as an apprentice (no she was not referring to her role on a TV show). Mostly, her initiative is just a web site with links to a lot of other web sites with information that has been out in the public for months or years.
As my favorite saying goes, “Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.”
As I predicted back in April, in this country it’s every person for themselves. There is no political will to institute the steps needed to get the pandemic under control. Without that active effort, the economy cannot recover. All those bars and other super spreader events will eventually close again when a large amount of their patrons and employees are sick or dead. But, hey! It was great while it lasted.
Dire measures are needed. It will hurt, it won’t be fun, it isn’t what we want but unless you want one of your friends or family to get sick and possibly die, suck it up.