#COVID19Chronicles-276: January 8, 2021-The US reckoning starts

Many spent yesterday reeling from the events they saw, heard and experienced at the US Capitol on June 6, 2021–a date etched into history.

The death toll has now reached five, including a Capitol policeman, reportedly killed by rioters with a fire extinguisher:

The policeman’s death has started the process of a federal murder investigation:

The words of Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official who warned that someone would get killed if this process of disinformation and lying about elections did not stop now ring out loudly:

More arrests have been made and the FBI are looking into pipe bombs found at the Washington DC HQs of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.

Distance is now an operative word; so is distaste. Congressional pressure is building to remove the president from office, early, either using the 25th amendment or impeachment or both:

We saw a stream of high-level resignations from the Trump administration citing distaste for what the president had instigated; the highest ranking were the Cabinet members who jumped ship-Betsy DeVos (Education) and Elaine Chao (Transport):

Some see this as a cynical attempt to not be caught up in any 25th amendment decisions.

We saw sackings and resignations for the security failures.

Former attorney general, Bill Barr, issued a condemnatory statement of the president: “Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable. The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

As the legislative pressure increased, and talk of possible legal action began to rise, the president issued a video, where he spoke from a script that sought to douse the flames of a fire he had started. He stated that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.” Arguments will go on about whether this was a concession speech as it never mentioned the president-elect. Many will question its motives and whether it will be followed by a series of backtracking statements—not untypical of the president.

The legal pressure may go past the president to his lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, and his son, Don Trump Jr, for their part in addressing the rally on Wednesday. Much commentary has been made about presidential pardons, even pre-emptive and such action may find itself running into headwinds.

Major US media, including conservative ones that usually support the president, have called on the president to resign.

Racial bias in policing has been flagged, early, by many, and will lead to a troubling set of comparisons and conversations:

Some on the legislative side who opened the door to public are being harshly criticized; notably, Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri) is being hauled over the coals. He was accused on January 6 by his hometown paper of having “blood on his hands”, flagging his supportive wave and raised fist to the rioters. His political backers are roasting him.

He suffered the ignominy of a publisher cancelling a book deal:

Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) is going through another make-over as he tries to walk back from his role in egging on the process of Congressional objections to the certification of Electoral College votes:

Just a few days ago in Georgia he was talking about the election being stolen:

Both were craven in putting their presidential ambitions on their chests and their sharp Ivy League-trained legal minds (which had gone on a quick vacation a few days ago) can quickly see the possible slippery slope they may be on.

Some are trying to make ‘Trump’ a dirty word as far as the federal government is concerned:

Recall, he wanted to know how to have his name on an airport:

Taking away some of the social media oxygen has happened…belatedly 🤬😩

Michelle Obama criticized the social media companies and want them to ban Trump, permanently:

But, the reality is that this is a fertile landscape that is also populated by other companies, some aimed specifically at Trump supporters and the conservative audience.

It’s worth noting that social media has plenty of support and additional strength from politicians:

It will remain a bizarre sight to see the rioters taking selfies inside the Capitol and posting on social media as they rampaged. Not surprisingly, they are finding their postings coming back to help them get arrested.

#COVID19Chronicles-250: December 14, 2020-Electoral collage

For much of the past four years, I’ve tried to explain to people that Hillary Clinton did not lose the 2016 presidential election: she won the election (popular vote) by a sizeable margin (>2 million), but the important thing was the popular vote does never determines the winner in presidential elections: that’s the role of the Electoral College. She lost that vote by 304-227. (Trump won States covering 306 votes, but 2 of those were not cast for him, finally.)

I do not like the Electoral College system, which seems to up-end the basic democratic practices of a country, where the popular vote settles electoral contests, for the single purpose of deciding the presidency. If it’s so vital to that position, why not cascade the principle down throughout the whole electoral process?

A recent survey suggests most Americans don’t like it, either.

That dislike is important, because today, December 14, is when the Electoral College will vote to decide the 2020 presidential election.

This presidential election has been extraordinary, most notably because the incumbent petulantly disputes the outcome and plasters the public with lies about the outcome of claims of “massive” fraud for which no one can evidence. Court cases arguing to contest the results so far returned a dismal 1 win versus 59 lost suits.

But, this has not stopped attempts to subvert the outcome. As the vote approaches–first being done at 10am ET today, in Indiana, Vermont and Tennessee–we need to watch carefully. (Extraordinarily, the voting will be covered completely live by CNN!) Why? As the ultimate deadline approaches, we have been warned that some will resort to desperate measures. The first glimmers of that was at the weekend when a some ‘million MAGA’ rallies in support of Trump ended in violence, in Washington DC and Washington State.

Threats of violence have already surfaced regarding the electors, trying to simply do their constitutional duty:

Procedures will differ from the past, in part due to threats, but also reflecting issues created by the pandemic, meaning fewer people in larger areas, but also some absences because officials are in quarantine.

But, amidst all that, the day will also be highlighted by the roll out of the first COVID vaccines. Major delivery companies have divided the country: UPS will take the east and FedEx dealing with the west:

#COVID19Chronicles-195: October 23, 2020-The Third Presidential Debate

The 3rd presidential debate was not rivetting television, for me, in part because I was still scarred from the first, and I’m not a great fan of the love affair with untruths that seem to be the president’s forte. I gave it 30 minutes and decided that sleep was better. My wife tried to stay with it longer, but I had to wake her up to turn off the TV before the debate had finished. Neither of us can vote in the elections, anyway, so it’s really background material for a life ahead.

The moderator, Kristen Welker (NBC), gets props for her handling, though with the benefit this time of a microphone cut-off during the opening two minutes of each candidate’s remarks.

The microphone rule would have made for a much better first debate, which was an absolute ‘train wreck’ that helped the president, who thought he succeeded in his ploy to constantly interrupt and not let his opponent get in a word.

It was a pity many had to suffer that, but it should be a constant, going forward. Poor Chris Wallace (Fox News) was left “jealous” that he’d not had the same advantage:

The LA Times called the debate a ‘study in exasperation’:

He also went after the president about when he knew and who he told about what he knew about the virus, citing how keep contacts had been able to short the stock markets based on the dire reports, which had not been shared with the public—stories that had circulated back in March:

As the LA Times put it, the debate was a ‘tale of two Trumps’:

‘At the start, the president largely reined in his combative impulses. He interrupted less, spoke softly and even sprinkled in a few niceties toward Kristen Welker, the debate moderator, whom he had been attacking in recent days. But the president’s more familiar instincts ultimately resurfaced.

He ran through the greatest hits of his Twitter feed — falsely claiming he was subject to a years-long “phony witch hunt” involving Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, groundlessly accusing the Obama administration of spying on his campaign.

Having recovered from COVID-19, he seemed none the worse for wear, growing more animated as the evening went on.

One constant throughout: the president’s tenuous relationship with the truth. Fact-checkers were kept busy with his claims of an imminent coronavirus vaccine, his exaggerated toughness toward Russia and other whoppers.’

President Trump is an incorrigible liar and one of the ‘tells’ is his hands and how they come into play as his stories spin around a possible grain of truth. It’s like a fisherman telling about his catch: ‘It was this big; no, this big’.

So, I always look at the hands, which are also part of the illusionists’ arsenal of distraction tools.

That’s all, folks. 🙂