Here’s some movie trivia. Daniel Day-Lewis made his film debut as an uncredited child vandal in John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) – he said it was “heaven” getting paid £2 to vandalize a row of Rolls Royce and Bentleys parked outside St Alfege Church in Greenwich. The kids walk alongside the parked cars, casually scraping the cars’ paintwork with keys and coins. They key those cars. They ruin them. That’s how the film opens. Schlesinger’s previous film Midnight Cowboy (1969) was about two alienated self-loathing gay characters. Here, everyone, gay or not, was quite civilized and civil. But it doesn’t matter. That was a long time ago. All anyone remembers now is that casual Sunday morning vandalism. Just ruin things. Symbolism matters.
And now our vandal is Donald Trump, in this context:
Even if you don’t have coronavirus, record-high Covid-19 hospitalizations could have a devastating impact on you.
“If you are in a car accident, you’re going to want us to save your life,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center.
“If you have a heart attack or a stroke, you’re going to want to an ICU bed with trained ICU nurses and physicians who are not caring for 20 other patients at the same time.”
Some hospitals across the US started running out of health care workers months ago. But holiday gatherings are fueling new waves of Covid-19, hospitalizations…
Nationwide, 125,379 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, more than any other day of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of patients topped 125,000 on Friday as well, but dipped slightly Saturday to 123,639. The US has now remained above 100,000 hospitalizations for 32 straight days.
“This is about total collapse of the health care system if we have another spike,” Spellberg said.
That’s already underway, unless all those damned experts are wrong:
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday pushed back on President Donald Trump’s false claims that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is “exaggerated.”
“The numbers are real,” Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, said during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two- to three thousand deaths per day.”
He told host Chuck Todd, “All you need to do, Chuck, is to go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.”
Fauci’s interview came in response to Trump tweeting, “The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low.”
In short, hardly anyone is dying from this. Trump has often said that someone is paying doctors big bucks to record any death as a Covid death, so the problem is greedy doctors, who share those payouts with greedy nurses and such. All those people who died, well, they died of other things, and they would have died anyway. Trump knows the truth. There’s no proof of this but everyone, he says, knows the truth. Someone is trying to make him look bad. That may be why Fox News’ Tucker Carlson says anyone who takes any of these new vaccines is a fool and why freedom-loving Trump patriots have been vandalizing and ruining shipments of these vaccines – for our own good, because this isn’t a big deal, or something. But someone is treating Donald Trump very unfairly:
Trump responded to Fauci by tweeting, “Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for ME and the TRUMP Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work. Gee, could this just be more Fake News?”
No. The healthcare system is collapsing and this was Donald Trump’s casual Sunday morning vandalism. He keyed the door of the Rolls. Just ruin things.
There’s a lot of that going around:
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Saturday denied “claims that he is advocating for violence” after he seemed to suggest just that as a remedy to President Donald Trump’s election loss during a Newsmax interview on Friday.
“I have not encouraged and unequivocally do not advocate for violence,” Gohmert wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday afternoon, adding: “Violence is not the answer.”
The comments come after Gohmert seemed to imply during a Friday night interview on the conservative news network that taking to the streets and being “violent” might be the only recourse for Trump’s allies who are increasingly desperate and running out of options to overturn an election won by President-elect Joe Biden.
Well, he was angry:
A fuming Gohmert on Friday had railed against the order by a federal judge on Friday to toss out the GOP lawmaker’s lawsuit which effectively argued Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“But if bottom line is, the court is saying, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no remedy’ – basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM,” Gohmert had told Newsmax on Friday after Judge Jeremy Kernodle issued an order for the dismissal of his lawsuit.
Gohmert is one of those who knows for a fact, which he cannot cite, that the Black Lives Matter movement is a movement to murder all White people, and that Antifa is large and well-organized and financed by George Soros and has an army with tanks and artillery and all sort of things. He wants to match their firepower. He is a worried man:
While asserting on Saturday that he only advocates “peaceful protest,” the GOP lawmaker has appeared to advocate for the use of force in the past. In fact, the Dallas Morning News points out that he previously urged Trump supporters to consider “revolution” amid Trump’s electoral defeat. At the “Million MAGA March” in November, he suggested action similar to the Egyptian uprising less than a decade ago and the revolt of American colonies against England. “If they can do that there,” Gohmert said of Egypt, “think of what we can do here.”
Well, maybe not:
Backing away from any association with violence on Saturday, Gohmert said that while he associated himself with the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. “that does not keep me from recognizing what lies ahead when the institutions created by a self-governing people to peacefully resolve disputes hide from their responsibility.”
Gohmert has vowed that his lawyers would be appealing the decision by the Trump-appointed federal judge.
So, he’s not calling for civil war, just yet. But he might. He will ruin things. He will ruin the whole system to keep Trump in power. He’s a vandal too, along with this guy:
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro insisted Saturday night that Vice President Mike Pence can arbitrarily postpone Inauguration Day.
The Constitution clearly states that Inauguration Day is Jan. 20, and Donald Trump and Pence’s terms end at noon that day.
Navarro in an interview on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” called for yet another investigation into the presidential election to probe allegations of fraud, and appeared to refer to a demand Saturday for a 10-day audit of election returns by 11 GOP senators.
If an investigation continues past Jan. 20, the inauguration will simply have to be put off, Navarro said.
And that’s that:
“Vice President Pence, he has the authority to give that 10-day window to do what needs to get done,” Navarro insisted, as host Jeanine Pirro nodded. “I cannot imagine when he looks at the facts, he won’t vote the right way on that.”
Pirro claimed that the “10-day window” can change the date for certification of electoral votes that’s supposed to happen Wednesday. But she added: “January 20 cannot be changed; that’s constitutional.”
“It can be changed, actually,” Navarro insisted. “We can go past that date. We can go past that date, if we need to. And we have got to get this right … We need to take [the election] back for the people.”
Pirro piped up: “Oh! Okay.”
The 20th Amendment of the Constitution, Section 1, very clearly states: “The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January… and the terms of their successors shall then begin.”
Yeah, well, forget that. There are a lot of vandals at work now, but that was just a warmup for the main attraction:
President Donald Trump begged Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the election results in an astounding hourlong phone call obtained Sunday by NBC News in which the president offered a smorgasbord of false claims about voter fraud and repeatedly berated state officials.
“So look,” Trump told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”
Excerpts of the call, which took place Saturday, were first published Sunday by The Washington Post.
But that didn’t last. NBC got the recording of the full call, and then CNN did too, and then everyone heard it all:
The phone call featured Trump, days before he is set to leave office, pleading with Raffensperger to alter the vote total and launching into a barrage of discredited conspiracy theories about the election. Trump even suggested that Raffensperger, who is a Republican, may face criminal consequences should he refuse to intervene in accordance with Trump’s wishes.
Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, pushed back against Trump’s claims and said President-elect Joe Biden’s victory of more than 12,700 votes was accurate.
“The people of Georgia are angry. The people in the country are angry,” Trump said in the call. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”
Raffensperger responded, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”
That’s a Republican who has said he is proud that he voted for Trump telling Trump that Georgia isn’t Trump’s for the asking. Trump is dividing and destroying the Republican Party, and the opposition pounced:
“We now have irrefutable proof of a president pressuring and threatening an official of his own party to get him to rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place,” Biden senior adviser Bob Bauer said in a statement. “It captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy.”
At an event in Savannah, Georgia, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris referred to the call as “a bald, bald face, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.”
Trump made it too easy for them:
Other Trump allies were present on the phone call, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and attorney Cleta Mitchell.
“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
Meadows at one point suggested that the secretary of state’s office and Trump’s team find a path forward to resolve the dispute that did not involve the courts. Raffensperger said he did not believe there was one.
Georgia has conducted multiple recounts and audits of the vote since November. Recently, an audit of signature matches in Cobb County found “no fraudulent absentee ballots,” Raffensperger’s office announced.
So that’s going nowhere, as is this:
At one point in the call, Trump alleged that votes were scanned three times.
“You know, they put ‘em in three times,” Trump said, a claim that Raffensperger said was untrue.
“We did an audit of that, and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times,” he said.
Okay, try this:
“Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County?” Trump said. “Because that is what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal.”
Germany said none of those things happened.
Sure, but Trump saw what he saw:
At the onset of the call, Trump cited his widely attended rallies as one reason he does not believe he lost. But he failed to connect his large crowds to his repeated defiance of state and local guidelines about Covid-19. Biden largely avoided packed events for the same reason, hosting drive-in rallies and virtual gatherings instead.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we won. We won very substantially Georgia. You even see it by rally size… We’ve been getting 25,000, 30,000 people to a rally, and the competition would get less than 100 people, and it never made sense.”
So he couldn’t have lost! But this had become pathetic:
Raffensperger took issue with the numbers Trump presented. After Trump claimed that “thousands” of dead people voted, Raffensperger said that, in actuality, the number was two.
“Two people that were dead that voted,” he said. “And so that’s wrong.”
Okay, then try this:
Another point of contention was over “a large number” of voters who Trump claimed did not live in Georgia. Germany explained that some were residents who moved back to Georgia years ago after having left.
The answer did not suffice for Trump.
“Really? How many people do that?” Trump said. “You mean they moved out and then they said, ‘The hell with it. I’ll move back.’ That does not sound… very normal. You mean they moved out, and, what, they missed it so much that they moved back in?”
Well, yes, they did. People do that all the time. That is normal:
Raffensperger said Trump was being misled by claims on social media. Trump repeatedly mentioned Ruby Freeman, a Georgia election worker who has been the target of false conspiracy theories online.
“Mr. President, the problem you have with social media is that people can say anything,” he said.
“Nah, this isn’t social media,” Trump responded. “This is Trump media.”
What’s the difference? That would be this:
The Georgia officials maintained that their numbers were accurate and reflected an honest election.
“No, you don’t. Not even close,” Trump said. “You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
How would he know? And the state had certified the vote weeks earlier after recount after recount and the audits. This had been over for weeks. Trump was asking for what amounted to an illegal reversal of an already settled and certified election:
Democrats in and out of Georgia were swift to respond to the tape. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted: “Trump’s contempt for democracy is laid bare.”
“Once again. On tape,” Schiff said, referring to Trump’s impeachment. “Pressuring an election official to ‘find’ the votes so he can win is potentially criminal, and another flagrant abuse of power by a corrupt man who would be a despot, if we allowed him. We will not.”
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., said Trump’s actions amounted to an attempt to assume dictatorial powers.
“Donald Trump is trying to change the outcome of the presidential election by strong-arming and bullying our elections officials into subverting our democracy,” Bourdeaux said in a statement. “This is an outrage. I will use every power in my authority to reject Trump’s desperate attacks on Georgia’s voters and our elections.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called for a criminal investigation.
“President Trump’s recorded conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger is more than a pathetic, rambling, delusional rant,” Durbin said in a statement. “His disgraceful effort to intimidate an elected official into deliberately changing and misrepresenting the legally confirmed vote totals in his state strikes at the heart of our democracy and merits nothing less than a criminal investigation.”
Trump doesn’t care:
Trump has targeted Raffensperger and other top Georgia Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, whom he called “a disgrace” Sunday.
Tweeting Sunday morning at Raffensperger, Trump noted his conversation with the secretary of state.
“He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more,” Trump said. “He has no clue!”
Raffensperger responded: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”
That only made Trump angrier:
Later Sunday, Trump called elections in swing states “UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
How so? Why? In what way? What is Trump’s legal theory here? Who knows? But he does like that word. That’s nice, but others spoke up:
More than a dozen Republicans across the House and Senate over the weekend attacked plans by their own colleagues to object to certifying 2020 election results, calling the effort ineffective, dangerous or lacking in evidence.
Although nearly all lawsuits brought by President Trump, his allies and his legal team to challenge election results have been dismissed, a group of Republican senators led by Ted Cruz says they will oppose certifying Joe Biden’s win.
And that’s what’s unconstitutional:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who joined Cruz on cable news last month to support Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, rebuked the Texan’s plan to hold an emergency audit of election results as “more of a political dodge than an effective remedy.”
Graham said Cruz’s proposed commission “has zero chance of becoming reality” and is “not effectively fighting for President Trump,” but added that he would “listen closely” to the challenges.
He stressed that Republicans need to give “clear and convincing evidence” that state and federal courts, as well as state legislators, failed to act on investigations into election fraud – although Attorney General Bill Barr said that the Justice Department has not found any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
In short, a bit of evidence would be nice, and the idea that the certified electoral vote, based on the verified popular vote, can be tossed out, might be a bad idea:
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned opposing the certifying of votes as it could “establish unwise precedents” and “take away the power to choose the president from the people.”
It also could lead to Democrats achieving “their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College” and Congress would “take another big step toward federalizing election law,” Cotton added.
And so on and so forth:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Sunday “It’s a very, very bad idea… this is bad for the country and bad for the party.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) denounced the proposed commission as an “egregious ploy” that “dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic,” arguing the precedent would lead partisan lawmakers to “inevitably demand the same any time their candidate had lost.”
GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote to her Republican conference Sunday that “objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent.” Cheney singled out Cruz’s proposal for a commission as “even more problematic” and asked if Republicans backing the effort realized “they were in essence proposing to delay the inaugural,” since the suggested audit would take months.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CNN no lawmaker could object to the results with a “clean conscience.”
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that efforts to “sow doubt” on Biden’s victory “strike at the foundation of our republic,” and the “Trump campaign had ample opportunity to challenge election results.”
This was vandalism:
Seven House Republicans released a statement Sunday in opposition to GOP plans to oppose certifying election results, arguing that Congress has no authority to disqualify electors or “to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state’s election laws.”
“To take action otherwise – that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process – would amount to stealing power from the people and the states.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R.-La), in a bipartisan statement on Sunday alongside Susan Collins (R-Maine), Romney and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said “further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy” of the election are “contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people.”
And then this particular vandal spoke:
Cruz responded to critics by urging lawmakers “to tone down the rhetoric.” … “This is already a volatile situation. It’s like a tinder box and throwing lit matches into it and so I think the kind of hyperbole we’re seeing, the kind of angry language.”
He didn’t see why everyone was so upset. Lighten up! Who can really say what the clearly expressed will of the American people really is? No one will ever really know that, so let Congress decide that.
That’s real vandalism, but there’s resistance everywhere:
The time to question election results has passed, and there is no role for the military in changing them, all 10 of the living former defense secretaries said in an extraordinary rebuke to President Trump and other Republicans who are backing unfounded claims of widespread fraud at the ballot box.
The former Pentagon chiefs issued their warning Sunday evening in an opinion piece that they co-wrote and published in The Washington Post. Its authors include Trump’s two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, as well as each surviving, Senate-confirmed Pentagon chief dating back to Donald H. Rumsfeld in the 1970s.
The article was published as some Republicans plan to take the controversial step of contesting the electoral college vote certification on Wednesday, even after the president’s repeated attempts to challenge election results in court have failed. It also comes as concerns persist that Trump might seek to use the military to keep himself in office, despite his electoral loss.
They’re having none of that:
“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted,” the former defense secretaries wrote. “The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”
So, stop this nonsense, all of it:
The article brings together a group of Republicans and Democrats who disagree on many national security issues. Its genesis is a conversation between Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador and defense official, and former vice president and defense secretary Richard B. Cheney about how the military might be used in coming days, Edelman said in an interview.
While Trump has called reports that he discussed the possibility of invoking martial law to overturn election results “fake news,” he did have Michael Flynn, a retired Army general and former national security adviser for Trump, at the White House recently after Flynn suggested on television that Trump could declare martial law and use the military to hold new elections.
Protests are expected in Washington on Trump’s behalf this week, and the president has encouraged his supporters to show up, tweeting: “Be there, will be wild!”
Edelman, who was among a group of Republicans who endorsed President-elect Joe Biden over Trump, said that after Cheney expressed interest in co-authoring an opinion piece, Edelman solicited participation from other former defense secretaries, and wrote a draft of the article along with Eliot Cohen, a former Republican national security official who is dean of the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.
Yes, even Dick Cheney has had enough of this nonsense:
In addition to stating their concerns about the ongoing contesting of the election, the defense secretaries backed recent comments from senior military leaders that there is no role for the military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election, a point they affirmed after Flynn suggested the president could invoke martial law.
“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” the defense secretaries wrote. “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
And that’s how this particular Sunday Bloody Sunday ended. Like that odd old movie, it opened with casual vandalism – just ruin things – but it didn’t end that way. This odd man can’t ruin everything on his way out. He can only try. For a few more days.
On voters moving away, and then later, back again to Georgia:
“Really” Indeed!! Has this guy never actually listened to the words? The concept of moving back is literally right there in the intro of Georgia’s world famous State Song!
When I was born, my family was living in Los Angeles. Before I was even one year old, we moved to New York. Before I was five, we moved back to Los Angeles, and then when I was twelve, we moved back to the New York area again.
Why? Who knows! For one thing, I think my folks kept missing their friends back home. And I’ve met other families that did something similar, for that same reason.
Although I hear there are Georgia legal types looking into prosecuting Trump for things he said on the call, I have to disagree with many in the media who see that phone call as Trump obviously encouraging Georgia’s secretary of state to break the law, and to arbitrarily “find” 11,780 votes, I suppose by cancelling out some suspected “illegal” Biden votes.
But in fact, if you listen to the whole interview, you hear Trump being just good enough at being bad to never specifically ask Raffensperger to do anything other than find what Trump might actually have believed were legitimately illegal votes for Biden, and then just Sharpy them out of existence. What Georgia was supposed to do after that, of course, is unclear, since the votes have by this time been counted three times, then legally certified, and then sent down the assembly line to the electoral college.
If there’s a procedure to undo all of that, no White House person on the call ever says what it is, although Mark Meadows does suggest at the end that Raffensperger had agreed to simply rescind the old certification, in what Trump called a “recalculation”, but Raffensperger pushed back on that: “That’s not I said.”
Still, would trying to do that be “illegal”? I’m not sure, but I would think there’s not even a way of trying it.
What Trump never seems to acknowledge is, if Raffensperger were as corrupt as Trump is — and also any good at it — then one might assume that Trump would have consequently won Georgia, in which case this silly phone call would probably not even have taken place. But since he apparently wasn’t either that corrupt or that good at it, this whole one-hour call was destined to be nothing but a time-wasting chatfest.
I wish I had been Brad Raffensperger on that call; I would have enjoyed giving Trump the kind of one-on-one counsel that he never gets from the yummies he surrounds himself with, and maybe even asked Trump directly if he thought arbitrarily zeroing out the votes of the 7,060,140 more Americans who voted for Biden than for him is really what the world’s most respected, continuously-operating democracy really deserves.
Then again, I might still have agreed to meet with them and see what evidence they think they have, but just to explain to them why what they have is nothing but rumors and not in any way evidence.
And it all comes down to what constitutes truth when it comes to who won Georgia. Maybe God knows the Truth, but since He’s not making phone calls to tell states which votes, and for which candidate, He wants counted, we’ll need to jury-rig our own systems of deciding truth, and so at some point, after we exhaust checking into all the nutty internet claims that end up going nowhere, all presidential election nights eventually have to come to an end, and hopefully comfortably before twelve noon of January 20th.
And while I’m sure the president is a firm believer in that old presumption — that everyone respects a competitor who never gives up and who fights on, even after the janitor has finished sweeping up — I’d argue that that bullshit is grossly overrated. To make that point even pointier, I would imagine that, at some point, even the humble chicken stops running all over the barnyard once it finally comes to realize that its head has been cut off. I just have to wonder if Trump may not be as quick-witted as a headless chicken.
But I say, thank the gods (assuming there are any) that, at this point in our history, there are just too many of us “Deep Staters” in America to allow someone to get away with stealthily taking away the right of Americans to rule themselves, instead of just handing over the car keys to some strong-willed, though otherwise feeble-minded tyrant-wannabe with the gift of gab who happens to stumble by.