Monday, November 30, 2020

A Bridge Too Far

McCarthy went too far when he tried to go after the Army.  Trump is going one step too far when he started attacking the Republican Party.  The Governor of Georgia is now an enemy of the State!

The Trump Presidency has gone from merely embarrassing to farcical.  If you were to set out to destroy your own legacy, you couldn't have done a better job than Donald J. Trump.

His latest move is nothing short of treason or an attempt at insurrection. He literally asked the Governor of Georgia to declare a State of Emergency and overturn the results of the election.  This is the sort of thing that used to happen only in third world countries or Baltic republics.   Fortunately, our Governor, a died-in-the-wool Republican and vocal Trump supporter, declined this invitation to totalitarianism.

This goes beyond merely challenging the election results or claiming there was some impropriety and raising these issues in court. They have failed to do that because they have no evidence of such improprieties, only messages from "Qanon" on 4-chan, which isn't evidence at all.  Their vaunted "100 affidavits" are just submissions from a website which are not signed, notarized, or sworn.  And of those 100 so-called affidavits, only a handful actually allege that votes were changed or not counted, and the number alleged (2) isn't enough to turn an election.   The rest of the "evidence?"   Well, they won't show it to us, because everyone knows in the lawyering business you keep evidence secret until you get to court.  It's the law!

Well, actually not.  And in fact, if you really want to win your case, you'd "try it in the press" by bringing this evidence to light.  But like with McCarthy's "list of 130 names of Communists the State Department" we never got to see the list, because it never existed.   Knowing they can't win legally, the Trump team is now trying a bald-faced power grab, to declare martial law and merely take over the country by force.  The "ask" here in Georgia is a shot across the bow.  Will Trump try something more drastic, on the Federal level, after the Electoral College meets in December?  You wonder why he "cleaned house" at the Pentagon recently - if you declare martial law and send the troops in to "restore order" you want to make sure you have your ducks in a row, right?

Now that Governor Kemp has refused to go along with this raw coup attempt, he is branded a traitor, a RINO, a pseudo-republican, a member of the Illuminati, the conspiracy theory, or whatever.  Trump has now turned on some of his strongest and most faithful supporters for failing to go along with his blatantly illegal coup attempt.  Governor Kemp.  Of Georgia.  You've got to be kidding me. Who is more Republican, who is a greater Trump supporter than that?  I mean, it would be like him denouncing his son Eric.

It is only a matter of time before he alienates more and more of the real base of the party, and like Joseph McCarthy, he just fades away.  He may already have cost the GOP the Senate, as his deranged wing of the party calls for a "boycott"of the run-off election.   A more absurdist piece of political theater I cannot imagine. But for all you Republican readers out there in Georgia, please boycott away!  I mean, if you are dumb enough to be a Trump fan, well, you're dumb enough to think this "boycott" is a good idea, too.

There was an interesting piece, I believe in the Atlantic recently, chronicling the quick rise and downfall of this Sidney Powell character.  Like Rudy Giuliani, she too, was once a federal prosecutor and once thought highly of.  She finished her bachelor's degree in two years and was a "woman going places" but ended up here.  Apparently, she lost her mind about the time of the Enron scandal, suing the lawyers of one of the players in that drama, claiming they could have gotten more money for her client.  She lost, and rather than take it on the chin (you can't win them all, of course, particularly malpractice cases) she wrote a self-published book claiming the entire judicial system was corrupt.   A lot of people on the far-right seized upon this book, years later, as "proof" of the existence of a "deep state" that was trying to thwart the will of the GOP.

Of course, they are right.  There is a "deep state" of government career bureaucrats and appointed-for-life judges and justices who are more apolitical and see the larger picture. They tend to act as a flywheel, providing inertia that must be overcome, when trying to change the direction of our country. This is all a plot of a bunch of freemasons, who over 200 years ago, met in some sort of "Constitutional Convention" to create this secret document called "The US Constitution" which many on the far-right talk about, but few have actually seen or read.  It is buried somewhere in the Federal Archives.

The irony is, of course, that the "deep state" is now trending the other way.  Trump in four years has appointed more judges and justices than Obama before him, and is also taking steps to "embed" his supporters in career bureaucratic positions in the government that do not serve "at the pleasure of" the President.  You see how this works - Deep State for Republicans = good, Deep State for Democrats = bad.

Maybe the Democrats need their own Qanon!

But speaking of Deep State, you didn't see Republicans complain too loudly back during the FDR era, when the "deep state" including the Supreme Court, thwarted a lot of his more ambitious plans. And that probably was a good thing, too, as much of the National Reconstruction Act was probably a reach. Once again, the US Constitution comes to the rescue.  And no, packing the Supreme Court was a bad idea then, and a bad idea now - as bad as Trump's attempt to overthrow the election. Creating Constitutional crises because you don't get your way is never a good idea.

But getting back to Powell and Giuliani, it is hard to believe that both were once thought of as real go-getters and premier attorneys.  What the ever loving-fuck happened to them?   Late-life schizophrenia?  Drug use?   Early onset dementia?  What?   Because whatever it is, it seems to be affecting a lot of the country lately.  I understand how an 18-22 year old can go off his rocker, having seen this happen firsthand, with friends and family members.  Schizophrenia is no laughing matter, and it is sad to see someone so young and full of promise just lose their minds and spend the rest of their lives institutionalized or on medications.

But what about the rest of these Qanon nutjobs?  What's their excuse?  Well, for starters, it is no doubt that the vast majority of these postings and upvotes of this conspiracy theory are coming from the Russian Internet Research Agency, who wants nothing more than to disrupt and weaken our country - and thus our resolve.   A weak America will not challenge an ascending Russia, who wants nothing more than to re-take its cold-war prizes, such as the Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, et al.   We stood by and said nothing while they invaded the Crimea, it is only a matter of time before they take more - or try to spread their influence across the globe, as they are doing in places like Syria.

Another segment of these Qanon people are literally the mentally ill.  A friend of mine has a family member who is institutionalized because they are a danger to themselves and others  The first thing that had to do was cut off all Internet communications - no cell phones, no online presence, etc.  Turns out the mentally ill relative was online all the time, on conspiracy theory sites, diving deeper and deeper into delusion and mental illness.  It wasn't helping things, and in fact, making them worse.

And thus I think a third segment of this sort are people who are not mentally unhinged to start with, but have been driven insane by constant scrolling and screen-time.  They spend hours and hours on Twitter (e.g., as our President does) and on conspiracy theory discussion groups.   If you weren't a little crazy when you started, you soon will be, if you spend hours a day in this parallel universe where anything seems plausible and bad ideas are constantly reinforced.

Sadly,it seems that too late, social media is picking up on the idea that maybe they have a role in this. And the mainstream media, with its "present both sides and let the viewer decide!" mentality, which pits a holocaust survivor against some teenage basement nazi - as if they were equals - bears much of the blame, too.   This time around, though, the media - both mainstream and social - went out of their way to squelch stories that were just too far-fetched, such as these conspiracy theories and whatnot.  If such ideas were published, they were annotated as being disputed or outright fact-checked as false. It changed the tone of the debate, I think, and perhaps Biden wouldn't have won without this change in tone.

Of course, the real far-right nutjobs will have none of this."This is censorship!" they say, "an abridgment of my first amendment rights!" - again never having actually read this top secret document called the "Constitution".  So they have fled to marginal cable channels and quirky websites and discussion groups and off-brand social media - only to find that Hannity and The Odious Glenn Beck were already waiting for them there.   It isn't "censorship" for a private company to decide what and what not to publish, no more than The New York Times is obligated to publish a daily Qanon update section for its paper.

What I think really burns their toast is that these clunky, shitty, wanna-be, off-brand media and social media sites come across just that way - as some cheap knock-off of the real thing.  When Qanon and Trump dominated Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and the Nightly News, well, it gave them authenticity they could not have achieved otherwise.  When their wacky opinions were elevated next to rational thinking and "let the viewer decide" it made it seem that wishful thinking and cold brutal logic were the equivalent, and what's more, it was merely a choice of what you wanted to believe in, because, if enough people believed in it, it would come true!  Free Ponies!  Unicorns!  Yea!  Sadly, many on the Left harbor similar beliefs.

It could be - let's hope anyway - that in six or eight months, the Corona Virus is far behind us, as is Donald Trump, Trumpism, and Qanon.   People may turn away from this circus as Trump self-destructs and tries to tear down the Republican Party in the process.   Maybe by then, people will see the light.

Some have compared Trump to Theodore Roosevelt.  I don't think it is an apt comparison, as Roosevelt actually accomplished some things and stood for more than just his own ego.  But Roosevelt, like Trump, felt betrayed by his own party, as populism was replaced by corporate interests, and his friend and successor, Howard Taft, undid a lot of Roosevelt's legacy.  Roosevelt later had his revenge, running against Taft as a spoiler, and handing the Presidency to Wilson, a Democrat.   He rapidly fell from grace after that fiasco.   But it is interesting that four years after he left office, he still commanded the loyalty of a sizable group of followers.  Will this be the legacy of Trump as well?   We can only hope Trump runs as a third party candidate in 2024.   We should, in fact, be encouraging him to do so.

In the meantime, the county sits on pins and needles, suffering from unnecessary stress, until January 20th.  What will Trump do in the meantime?  Will he convince some governor to declare martial law and invalidate the election results in their State as he has already tried in Georgia?    Why the lack of outrage over that (sound effect: crickets)?   Or will he declare martial law as President and "send in the troops" to force the electoral college to re-elect him?   Sounds implausible, but history is full of implausible moments.  Revolutions are usually accomplished not by an overwhelming majority of people, but by a small, well-armed minority who either intimated the majority, or gets the majority to just go along with thing.

This shit is far from over, not matter what the New York Times or the Washington Post say.  We are not dealing with rational people, here.