Category Archives: Authoritarianism

republicans might not like trump but they “don’t regret the supreme court.”

Can I just say that Sam Nunberg is an imbecile.  He was in an important position in the Trump as a “campaign advisor” because he is an imbecile and now CNN is interviewing him as if he is this expert on anything. 

Nunberg at one time faced prosecution because of his role in the Trump campaign and he is saying about Trump:  “He is not a perfect man.”  Nunberg, says that he has no regrets about working to get Trump elected.  This fruitful line of discussion was cut off by the CNN anchor.  But, Nunberg continued: “I don’t regret the Supreme Court.  I don’t regret …Israel.”  “He (Trump) did a service to the forgotten men and women…”  “I am happy he beat Hillary Clinton…”

Tony Schwartz, who was also on the CNN panel broke in to confront Nunberg.  Schwartz said it was “sad to hear somebody say I don’t take any responsibility.”  “Come one Sam.”  “It’s time to say the truth about this man.”

But, Nunberg, growing visibly angry, just continued to defend Trump.

While CNN cut this discussion off, it is an important one.  What it demonstrates is that these people around Trump (even those who have been left out to dry in terms of prosecution by the Trump administration) have learned nothing.  To the extent that Nunberg is willing to criticize Trump and those around him it is because they didn’t step in to legally protect Nunberg. 

On to another topic raised by the CNN coverage this morning.  Tony Schwartz said that this might be his last public statement about Trump because everything that can be said has been said.

I agree with Schwartz.  I am completely disgusted with this continued cheap psychoanalysis of Trump that takes up hours and hours on corporate news.  I don’t care what Trump thinks.  I don’t care what is “inside Trump’s head” as CNN purported to cover this morning.  I care about what Trump does and what he represents and what the complicit group of people around him are fomenting.  This is a movement and make no mistake, Mitch McConnell is as much a part of it as is Donald Trump.  Getting rid of Trump (if we even can) is not going to solve the problem.

This is one of the reasons why people in my intellectual territory of the Democratic Party shudder every time Biden or his cohorts starts to talk about “healing” or “unity” or (to repeat Obama’s line) “moving on.”

McConnell may have decided that he has gotten as much out of Trump as he can, and is now ready to kick him to the curb.  But, moving on means McConnell and the Koch’s will find somebody else, smarter, cleaner, more devious, and more palatable to carry on the fight to establish an authoritarian one-party Christian nationalist state.  That’s where they have been going for decades and where they will continue going, with Trump at the head or not.

Mitch McConnell (and McConnell’s wife), Bill Barr and others are making self-serving statements, so that they can live to fight another day.  And, the corporate media is already complicit in laundering the reputations of prominent Republicans.  Joe Scarborough is a prime example of someone who will happily criticize Trump (who threatened to out his adulterous affair, and who called Scarborough a murderer) and then turn around and laud Republicans who are complicit in advancing Republican goals while making superficial criticisms of Trump.

“I don’t regret the Supreme Court” should be tattooed on the foreheads of Mitch McConnell, Steve Schmidt, Joe Scarborough, Elise Jordan, Nicolle Wallace, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, Ben Sasse, John Bolton, George Conway, Bill Kristol, Michael Steele, Jeff Flake, Justic Amash, David Jolly?, John Kasich, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, James Lankford and many others.

Folks, these people are not our friends.  They cannot be our allies.  They have worked for decades to bring this situation about.  They established the groundwork for this situation.  They cannot plead ignorance and innocence now.

THE DEVIL HIMSELF: ERIK PRINCE

While corporate media pundits spend time interviewing each other about interviews they have done ( Lemon interviewing Tapper about his interview with Biden, dogs sniffing assholes)  and touting their books (Maddow and Scarborough), Trump has dangerously upped the ante in the crime spree that has been the Trump/Republican administration.  They are stealing billions from the American people and neither the corporate media nor the Democratic Party is screaming bloody murder as they should be.

As just one minor example of a story that should have been hammered for days, Trump, after getting rid of a top level of Pentagon officials, has appointed stooges (Lewandowski) who will facilitate the massive grifting of the federal government.

With this top layer of sycophants in place, it is being widely reported that (the devil himself) Erik Prince has been awarded a “classified contract” to take over military operations in Africa.

This move would help facilitate a long-pursued project of Prince’s to take over military operations for the U.S. government (he proposed doing so in Afghanistan) and for the Republicans to privatize the enormous defense budget every more than it’s already been farmed out to giant defense contractors.

It was reported that Prince proposed a take-over of the Afghanistan war to the Trump administration earlier in the year.  It is not clear why he was turned down.  He has come back with his hand out for part of the spoils being awarded by Trump and the Republicans.

In case you don’t remember, Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy de Vos.  He was the founder of a mercenary contracting group that was unleashed in Iraq and wreaked so much uncontrolled, unfettered terror among the population, they finally had to prosecute Blackwater and some of his operatives.

Erik Prince is another of the multitude of people (Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump,Jr. Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, etc.) who would already have been in prison in 2016 if we had a functioning Justice Department which prosecuted white collar, corporate and political crimes (See “The Chickenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger).

Also see Jeremy Skahill’s book about Blackwater and (the Devil) Erik Prince.

erik prince: the devil himself, a classified contract with your money

The reporting is that Trump’s new buffoon appointments in the Pentagon have awarded EriK Prince (read, the Devil) a classified contract to run mercenary operations in Africa.

This is the best book out there about the true depth of corruption and violence represented by Erik Prince.

Biden is not going to just say “come on man” and have McConnell get down on his knees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, walks to meet with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, after the Senate voted to not allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

It is increasingly apparent to me that watching the corporate news will be as difficult over the next four years as it was over the last four. 

Nicolle Wallace, one of the Never-Trumpers that the corporate Democrats love so much, just begged a reporter for information on Republicans who are likely to cooperate with the Democrats.  The reporter cited SUSAN COLLINS as one of those likely Republicans.  Susan Collins?  If we are pinning our hopes on Susan f…ing Collins, we are in sad shape.

Wallace and the reporter spent ages discussing how “fascinating” watching the relationship between Biden and McConnell was going to be.  It will be a real test, the reporter said, to see if Biden can move McConnell on “anything at all.” 

There is no test here.  And, Biden is wasting his time.  McConnell is not going to cooperate with Joe Biden because Biden’s a nice guy.  The Democrats essentially nominated and ran Biden not for any policy agenda, but because he was a “nice guy.”  Well, I will just go out on a limb here and say that Mitch McConnell is not going to change the total obstruction that has characterized his entire leadership due to the power of Joe Biden’s personality.

Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Pompeo and others are on a mission.  They perceive themselves to be fighting a war and that war didn’t end just because we were lucky enough to have Trump turned out because of mail-in ballots.

The entire Democratic nominating convention was a celebrity creation exercise.  It had nothing to do with policy which was hardly mentioned.  It was about creating and marketing a celebrity.  Part of that process was trying to convince the consumer that the power of Biden’s personality was going to change politics in Washington.

I am afraid that Biden has come to believe his own hype and truly thinks that he’s going to walk into the Senate, put his arm around Mitch McConnell and say, “come on man” and McConnell is going to go down on his knees.  It ain’t gonna happen.  I’ll say it again.  It ain’t gonna happen.

But corporate media hosts like Nicolle “I facilitated torture” Wallace will spend hours of valuable ideological real estate publicly wondering which Republicans are going to “cooperate” and the ins and outs of some kind of personal relationship between Biden and McConnell.

The corporate media and the Democratic Party still perpetuate the notion that Trump and the Republican Party are different. Biden has said that once Trump is gone, the Republicans are going to return to “normal.”   The Republicans were completely willing to use Trump and his crazed supporters as a vehicle to advance their agenda.  They are not going to stop advancing that agenda, not now, not when they are this close to establishing a one-party authoritarian state. 

If Democrats think that the power of Biden’s personality is going to change what is, for Republicans, a holy war, they are delusional.  But, I guess we already knew that. 

FAIR ELECTION? “i SEE NO PROGRESS TOWARDS AN EVIDENCE-BASED ELECTION.”

Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections.  One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax.  As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.”  But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.”  Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over.  It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes.  In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000.  Most people just never noticed.

I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020.  I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.

They lost at least at the presidential level.  They didn’t lose outright at the state level.  The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate.  Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden.  He barely squeaked through.  They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won.  The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.

But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really? 

As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:

•        “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud.  I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”

•        “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate.  They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”

•        “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”

•        “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate.  The next election could be hell too.  And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated.  I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”

•        “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”

•        “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”

•        “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail.  WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.

GEORGIA: THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Republicans are furious with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and SOS Brad Raffensperger because even with a new $150 million voting machine system, they couldn’t reliably deliver a win for Trump and two Republican Senators.  The two senate candidates, Perdue and Loeffler, called for Raffensperger’s resignation.  Kemp, it will be remembered, is widely thought in Georgia to have stolen the governorship from Stacey Abrams in 2018. 

Given the amount of voter suppression, the millions spent in overt propaganda to convince Georgians that their voting machine system was “secure,” and the black-box nature of machines which cannot be meaningfully audited, the only reason Kemp and Raffensperger couldn’t deliver is the large number of mail in ballots that were cast. 

Geogia’s highly touted “secured” voting system, includes paper ballots with the voter’s printed choice of candidate on them.  One big problem is that the scanner that counts the votes, doesn’t count the words printed on the page.  The scanners count a barcode at the bottom of the page that neither the voter nor the voting officials can read.  Many people, like me, voted by mail because this allowed circumventing the Ballot-marking devices and the barcode scanners.   

So now, Kemp and Raffensperger are scrambling to save their political careers.  Even though there is a large margin for Biden in the state, they have announced that there will be a recount.  Yesterday (November 11) Raffensperger announced that the recount would be a hand recount of every ballot.  He even made jokes about the amount of overtime that would cost counties to do such a recount.  I’m not sure they shared his humor.

Jennifer Cohn and others have been on twitter, however, pointing out that the SOS has no authority to mandate a hand recount, so the legality of this proposal is dubious.  Several other Georgia watchers have also pointed out that lawyers representing Trump in litigation about the election are also representing the State of Georgia.  This conflict of interest has not been explained.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Georgia state law requires an audit but leaves up to elections officials the choice of race. This leaves the people in charge of the election in charge of determining what race to audit. Officials in Georgia have chosen the presidential race to recount rather than the senate races.  The certification deadline in Georgia is November 20.  It is unclear how counties in Georgia (where they are already pleading for volunteers to help monitor the recount) are going to do a total hand recount by the deadline for certification.  This may in fact be the game.

On Twitter: @cjjohns1951

What Could Go Wrong?

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has crafted and circulated to legislators a new “anti-mob” piece of legislation.  This legislation is an expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  The law would:

  • allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business;
  • allow vigilantes to justify violent actions against protesters;
  • opens for door for death as a punishment for property crimes;
  • allows people to use force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business;
  • enhances criminal penalties for those involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies;”
  • makes it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest;
  • allows the withholding of state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.

Ceballos, Miami Herald, 11/10/20).

Nevada: stop the count

5:00 PM

The Nevada Independent is reporting that Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republican Party officials have filed an emergency appeal requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to immediately order Clark County to stop processing mail ballots.

Even though a District Court last week, issued an order denying their request, they have gone to the Nevada Supreme Court. The request is for Clark County to stop using an automatic signature verification machine and to stop “duplication” of all mail ballots. The “duplication” occurs when a mail in ballot has something wrong with it that prevents it being processed by a machine, so another ballot is created to record the vote.

If Clark County doesn’t immediately stop counting, the attorneys argue, “Nevadans – and the rest of the country – will be left wondering whether the results of the election are legitimate.”

The Registrar of Voters in Clark County has stated that if the use of the signature verification machine is stopped, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the counting of ballots by the deadline set by state law.

And, this is exactly the intent. The Republicans will do anything to win, anything.

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

In my neck of the intellectual woods, we call it justice

October 20, 2020

Not long ago a friend of mine was complaining about MSNBC.  “I don’t watch MSNBC anymore,” he said.  “I’m tired of the blame game.”

I didn’t question the statement since I figured I’d already pushed the conversation to its limit.  That means, I had already opened my mouth at least once.  In this day and age, for me, that’s always one too many times.

I spent almost ten years living outside the country, missed the entire 80s, while this country was going through what another friend referred to as the “moving right show.”  When I returned to the country, I usually refrained from talking about politics since my perspective was radically different from almost anybody I socialized with on a regular basis.  And, I was a writer.  You don’t need to talk to people about politics and law if you write about them.  In fact, most of the time, it’s the last thing you want to talk about.

The past four years, however, have not only pushed me further to the left than I already was (which was pretty far to the left), but made me believe that it was possible to talk to other people about politics since the Trump/Republican crime family was openly dismantling everything decent there ever was about the society.

But, what I quickly found was that even though people wanted to grouse, when you got right down to it, they didn’t want to do much more.  What most people wanted was to 1) vent and to 2) “get back to normal.”  They didn’t much appreciate it when I pointed out that “normal” was what got us Trump.

In the past four years I have been infuriated, disgusted, and repelled by Trump and the Republican party.  But, my real rage has been provoked by Democrats.  I suppose you expect the worst from your enemies, but when you see it coming from your friends, it is both disheartening and alienating.

Early on in 2016, after Trump was elected and people (even in Georgia) started to mobilize, I had an exchange with one of the group of women I call the “southern ladies” that summed up my dilemma.

We were at a street demonstration peopled largely by the elderly and women.  (I am both.)  An acquaintance said: Now, we have to be careful that we’re respectful.  I looked at her and blinked.  “Why?”  I asked.  She looked back at me and blinked herself.  Neither of us could understand what on earth the other was talking about.

I have spent the past four years trying to understand what she was talking about, what the Democratic Party was talking about.  I have been dumfounded, utterly dumbfounded by people who act like the worst thing in the world would be to be perceived by other people as “disrespectful.”

Now, I grew up in the South where being rude was a cardinal sin.  But we are watching the destruction of democracy, the transformation of a country into an authoritarian kleptocratic state and people, grown people, are worried about whether or not they will be perceived by the people dismantling democracy as disrespectful.  I don’t get it.

And, it’s not only regular people.  I sit and watch hearing after hearing where Democrats are in a position to expose the utter corruption and rot that is characteristic of the Republican party and Senator after Senator, Representative after Representative virtually gets down on their hands and knees and apologizes for asking questions.  It disgusts me and enrages me.

And, as if things weren’t bad enough, the week after Diane Feinstein went out of her way to grovel at the feet of Lindsay Graham and possibly cost the Democrats a crucial Senate seat, Democrats have already started promising Republicans not to hold them accountable for the crimes that brought us to this point.  Democrats, like my friend, might call this “the blame game” but in my neck of the intellectual woods we call it justice.  And I am a believer in justice.

We would not even be here, on this precarious knife edge, if there was justice in this country for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many others would not even be in a position to hold office if we had a criminal justice system that prosecuted the crimes of the wealthy.  They would be in jail.  Instead, they control the government.

And, already, even before the Democrats have won the election *, they are already trying to bow down and promise they will not hold accountable the people who have done everything in their power to steal and degrade democracy.  On Nicolle Wallace’s show on Monday, Rick Stengel found it necessary to point out one of the things that he thought was “lovely about the Biden campaign.”  Lovely? This thing was that the Biden campaign talks about “bringing the country together [in a way that] is not about recrimination, not about punishing people who may have made a mistake.”  We need, says Stengel to be “moving ahead.”

I have been saying for months that people who think that a Biden administration will do anything to hold the Trump/Republican crime family to account are delusional.  Biden will do exactly what Obama did in the face of people who had recklessly and greedily brought down an economy.  He will say that we need to “move on.”  People like Rick Stengel are just paving the way. 

George Bush used the Justice Department to create a fictional legal foundation for the use of torture, but Obama said we should move forward not backward.

Every time leadership evades responsibility for holding criminals accountable for their crimes, it paves the way for more crime.  Barak Obama and Eric Holder paved the way for Trump as surely as if they had nominated him as the candidate of the Republican party.

*I do not believe that the Democrats will win the “election.” I believe the Republicans will steal it.