Impeachment articles drawn up by House, as well as request for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment

January 11, 2021 • 1:00 pm

Just a a couple of hours ago, the House of Representatives introduced a motion to impeach the “President” for the second time. Click on screenshot to go to the pdf:

There’s one article: “Incitement of insurrection,” but that includes not only his speech to the protestors before they bum-rushed the Capitol, but also his sleazy phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State, urging him to “find more votes” to overturn the state’s electors.

There’s also this resolution, based on the same data, calling for Pence to get the 25th Amendment rolling and call on Trump to resign, forcing him if he balks (click on screenshot):

House Republicans objected to the second measure, but they’re in a minority, so if that resolution comes to the floor, it will pass. But it’s toothless, for it has no power to force Pence to do anything. The NYT gives more details:

As expected, Republicans objected to a resolution calling on Mr. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, meaning that the House would have to call a full vote on the measure, most likely on Tuesday. Democratic leaders were confident it would pass, and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to beseech the vice president, who is said to be opposed to using the powers outlined in the Constitution, to do so.

It was a remarkable threat. If Mr. Pence does not intervene “within 24 hours” after passage and the president does not resign, House leaders said they would move as early as Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, just a week after the attack. Already more than 210 Democrats have signed onto the leading charge, just shy of a majority of the House. Several Republicans were said to be considering voting to impeach for the first time, though party leaders were opposed.

I think there are grounds for invoking the 25th Amendment, as Trump is clearly incapacitated by some mental affliction, but this is a futile gesture. I have more hope for (and approval of) the impeachment, but with the proviso that if the House passes it (and it will), they wait a while before sending it to the Senate before trial. That would prevent Biden’s first days in office from being tied up in a fractious impeachment trial, and allow him—as, I believe, he wishes—to get going with his legislation. And we need him to get going, for we don’t know if he has longer than two years of a Republican Senate.

As they say every decade, “We live in interesting times.” But I never imagined I could see the day when a fascist could hold the reins of power and command his minions to storm the Capitol building. This is worse than Nixon, which is the worst I’ve seen since I’ve been alive.

Snopes investigates claim that Trump incited the storming of the Capitol

January 9, 2021 • 10:30 am

Snopes leans largely to the Left, so if it gives a mixed rating to the question below (half true/half false), you can be pretty sure that it would not stand up in a court of law, much less the Senate. I didn’t follow exactly what the Orange Man said before the horrific events of three days ago (five people are now dead, including a Capitol police officer who died after being bashed in the head with a fire extinguisher), but I’m pretty sure that Josh Hawley’s fist-pump to the demonstrators does not constitute incitement to imminent violence. Hawley could have been giving an “I’m with you” sign—odious enough, but not unambiguous enough to prove, much less buttress, the calls of people who want him tried for treason.

Trump may be impeached, and I support the House going forward with that, but what was his role, if any, in inciting people to storm the Capitol? Well, Snopes gives the question a “mixture” response (click on screenshot).

It turns out that Trump may have had this violence in mind, but he was very, very canny about what he said, and since we can’t show that he knowingly incited violence, that can’t be proven. Here’s what Snopes says:

There’s more stuff, but author Jessica Lee concludes this:

In short, the president called on supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” march or walk to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to urge members of the senate to defy the Electoral College vote in a constitutionally mandated procedure to affirm Biden’s win, without using the words “storm” or “breach” or “break into” the federal building.

Put another way, the president encouraged supporters to descend on the Capitol grounds and “cheer” on senators who would break laws governing U.S. elections, but he did not explicitly tell people to commit crimes themselves.

Furthermore, it was a subjective call on whether the phrases “you have to show strength” and “demand that Congress do the right thing” were actually messages condoning crimes and violence among extremists, without outright encouraging it. Such a rhetorical strategy is known to scholars of white nationalist and extremist groups, including the Proud Boys.

In sum, while Trump did not say the words “storm” or “break into” the White House, Trump indeed told supporters to gather at the U.S. Capitol and try to convince members of Congress to delay the constitutional process that would affirm Biden’s presidency. For those reasons, and the ones outlined above, we rate this claim a “Mixture.”

In other words, if Trump had that in mind (and who knows?), he was very clever. Demented, maybe, but perhaps clever. He may be impeached, but if this is the main charge, I predict that he won’t be convicted in an impeachment trial. Why, then, do I favor impeachment? Well, there’s the slight possibility that some Republicans may vote with the Democrats, for there were many reasons to remove Trump from office besides the charge of incitement, but mainly I think it will be another black mark on his record: the first President to be impeached twice.

Andrew Sullivan implies that the Resurrection probably didn’t happen, and then describes “Christianism” as a big threat to America

December 12, 2020 • 11:30 am

Andrew Sullivan is a practicing Catholic, but doesn’t like to discuss his own beliefs.  I’ve had two interactions with him about this issue, though the latest wasn’t really an “interaction.”

In 2011, Sullivan pounced on me in his column in the Daily Dish for assuming that people take the Bible literally when it comes to the creation of Earth and its inhabitants. His piece can be found at the archived website, and I also posted about it, saying this and quoting Sullivan:

At any rate, Sullivan makes this accusation:  I am one of many deluded fools who thinks that the account of Genesis was meant to be taken seriously.  From the outset it was an obvious metaphor, and intended to be seen as such!

“There’s no evidence that the Garden of Eden was always regarded as figurative? Really? Has Coyne read the fucking thing? I defy anyone with a brain (or who hasn’t had his brain turned off by fundamentalism) to think it’s meant literally. It’s obviously meant metaphorically. It screams parable. Ross sees the exchange as saying something significant about the atheist mindset – and I largely agree with everything he says, except his definition of “fundamentalist” doesn’t seem to extend much past Pat Robertson. It certainly makes me want to take Jerry Coyne’s arguments less seriously. Someone this opposed to religion ought to have a modicum of education about it. The Dish, if you recall, had a long thread on this subject in August. No one was as dumb as Coyne.”

I responded by quoting a number of theologians, including Aquinas and Augustine, who took the Genesis story literally, even though some church fathers noted that it had a metaphorical interpretation as well as a literal one. And of course about 40% of all Americans are Genesis adherents. In response to Sullivan’s insults about my dumbness, and his assumption that I hadn’t read Genesis, I called him a “mush-brained metaphorizer.”

My anger at Sullivan, inflamed by his insults, has since cooled. We’re on the same side on many issues, particularly “wokeness”, and his columns are very often rational and perspicacious. Still, he occasionally drags his faith into his column (now The Weekly Dish, a subscriber-only site to which I do subscribe). And when he mentions faith in a positive way, it now conflicts all the more jarringly with his avowed adherence to rationality and science.

That led to my second interaction, when he wrote this:

. . . I don’t know whether liberalism can survive without some general faith in an objective reality and a transcendent divinity. That’s why I suspect a reinvention and reboot for Christianity is an urgent task.

Well, I couldn’t let that stand, so I wrote what I thought was a good “reader’s dissent”, pointing out that the happiest, most well-off, and liberal democracies of the world were the least religious. Sadly, he didn’t publish my gem, so I put it on this site. So be it.

But I always wonder what the man really believes about his faith, and I’d love to debate him on the dissonance between his Catholicism and his constant banging on about the need to be rational and adhere to the facts. In his column this week, he makes a telling statement in the midst of criticizing Trumpian Christianists (more on them in a second) for their refusal to face facts about the election. He indicts not only the Right, embodied by the unhinged Eric Metaxas, but also the Woke Left, represented by Ibram X. Kendi, as ignoring evidence. If you’re a member, click on the screenshot below:

Toward the end of what is a readable and incisive essay, Sullivan makes the statements below below while discussing the refusal of “Christianists” to accept the election results, claiming instead that Biden’s victory is the result of a widespread conspiracy. (The emphasis below is mine.)

The right is not unique in conspiratorial delusion, of course. The refusal of many on the left to accept Tump’s legitimate victory in 2016 was real and widespread. Both Hillary Clinton and John Lewis declared Trump an illegitimate president. Remember the Diebold machines of 2004? Not far from the Dominion stuff today. And the intensity of the belief on the left in an unfalsifiable “white supremacist” America has a pseudo-religious fervor to it. The refusal of Metaxas to allow any Republican to remain neutral or skeptical is mirrored by Ibram X. Kendi’s Manichean fanaticism on the far left.

But the long-established network of evangelical churches and pastors, and the unique power of an actual religion to overwhelm reason, gives the right an edge when it comes to total suspension of disbelief. Christianists are not empiricists or skeptics. They’re believers. This time around, it’s belief in a “multi-layered, multi-dimensional” conspiracy involving hundreds of people in several states, rejected by almost every court. You can fact-check that as easily as you can fact-check the Resurrection.

But what else does that mean except that there’s as little evidence for the Resurrection as there is for Republicans’ election conspiracy theories? In other words, no evidence! I’m forced to conclude, then, that Sullivan, as a Catholic, rejects Jesus’s literal Resurrection. Maybe he thinks it’s some kind of metaphor. My conclusion is strengthened in the next bit when he once again touts empiricism (my emphasis):

To survive, liberal democracy must have some level of moderation, some acceptance of the legitimacy of the other side, and room for compromise. It has to be based in empiricism, shared truth, deliberation and doubt. Fundamentalist religion has none of those qualities. It’s all or nothing.

One can conclude that Sullivan indeed equates belief in the Resurrection with fundamentalism, but of course that’s not the case: if anything, Jesus’s revival is a critical tenet of mainstream Catholic (or other Christian) faith, fundamentalist or not. It’s a linchpin of the Christian story of sin and salvation. Note also that he avers here that liberal democracy must be based on empiricism and shared truth, while earlier he said that liberal democracy, to survive, also has to have some faith in a “transcendent divinity”, and requires a “rebooted Christianity.” I’m here to tell Sullivan that basing democracy on empiricism automatically rules out basing it on any Abrahamic religion, including a “transcendent divinity” theistic or not.

Enough. The rest of the article is good, describing a group of hardcore Republican Christians, whom he calls “Christianists” to parallel “Islamists”, as both groups see no distinction between their faith and politics. Trumpian Christianists apparently see Trump, with all his flaws, as God’s own second saviour to redeem both ourselves and our country.

To Sullivan, the existence of Christianists explains the plethora of Republican loons who still won’t accept the election results. But I’m not as sure as he that this group will pose a real threat to America after Biden is sworn in.

Two quotes:

In a manner very hard to understand from the outside, American evangelical Christianity has both deepened its fusion of church and state in the last few years, and incorporated Donald Trump into its sacred schematic. Christianists now believe that Trump has been selected by God to save them from persecution and the republic from collapse. They are not in denial about Trump’s personal iniquities, but they see them as perfectly consistent with God’s use of terribly flawed human beings, throughout the Old Testament and the New, to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven.

This belief is now held with the same, unwavering fundamentalist certainty as a Biblical text. And white evangelical Christianists are the most critical constituency in Republican politics. If you ask yourself how on earth so many people have become convinced that the 2020 election was rigged, with no solid evidence, and are now prepared to tear the country apart to overturn an election result, you’ve got to take this into account. This faction, fused with Trump, is the heart and soul of the GOP. You have no future in Republican politics if you cross them. That’s why 19 Republican attorneys general, Ted Cruz, and now 106 Congressional Republicans have backed a bonkers lawsuit to try to get the Supreme Court to overturn the result.

Biden’s victory was not God’s will. Therefore it couldn’t have happened.

Below: Sullivan’s fears, which may well be exaggerated. I certainly hope they are:

And Trump is at the center of [Christianists’] belief system now, which includes all his lies. The relationship of many with him is that of evangelicals and their pastor: a male, patriarchal figure who cannot be questioned and must be obeyed. Trump’s political genius has been in sniffing out this need to believe, and filling it, all the time, tweet by tweet, lie by lie, con by con. No wonder Trump Trutherism is now a litmus test for the Christianist faith. . .

. . . Not only is it all or nothing, but the mandate to believe it, and act on it, is from God himself. When this psychological formation encounters politics, it cannot relent, it cannot change its mind, it cannot simply move on. And a core element of our politics right now — and part of the unprecedented resilience of Trump’s support — is this total suspension of judgment by a quarter of all Americans. When that certainty of faith met a malignant narcissist who cannot admit error, a force was created that continues to cut a ferocious swathe through our culture and our democratic institutions.

And if God Almighty calls for the overturning of a democratic election by force or violence? Then let the walls of Jericho come tumbling down.

I still predict little or no right-wing violence after January 20, but I’m not going to bet on it. The GOP, with 100+ of its Congresspeople joining the crazy Texas lawsuit trying to overturn the election, has become a swarming beehive of of truthers, conspiracy theorists, and, of course, gun nuts.

The Supremes give Trump a boot in the tuchas

December 11, 2020 • 6:12 pm

The ridiculous Texas lawsuit seeking to nullify the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania has been rejected by the Supreme Court in an unsigned order, and for the expected reason: lack of standing. Here’s the terse decision:

I’m not sure what Alito and Thomas are on about, but the lawyers in the crowd can explain it to us.

He has no recourse, at least any that I can see.

Tweeted a few hours ago (he hasn’t reacted to the new decision, but that should be fun):

The court showed adherence to the law.

Is the “Goldwater rule” a good ethical guide for therapists, and does it violate Americans’ freedom of speech?

November 23, 2020 • 10:45 am

The 25th Amendment of the Constitution provides a way for the Vice President to replace the President if the latter becomes unable to fulfill the duties of his office. I won’t give the whole Amendment, but the relevant parts for this piece concern Trump’s erratic behavior, which many psychiatrists have diagnosed as a mental illness serious enough to have him removed from office.

Section 1

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

. . .

Section 4

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. . .

Now Section 4 is a bit unclear as to exactly who will provide the written declaration of the President’s unfitness, though it seems that a majority of the Cabinet, acting with the Vice President, could do the deed. However, a number of psychologists and psychiatrists have, over the last few years of the Trump Presidency, decided and declared that the man is palpably unfit for office—indeed, according to their remote diagnoses, he’s mentally ill—and should be given the boot forthwith.

I agree that Donald Trump is mentally ill, but I’m not a professional, and thus am not bound by the strictures of professional associations to avoid diagnosing someone you haven’t personally examined. And those strictures exist most prominently in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) “Goldwater rule“, created after a number of psychiatrists pronounced Barry Goldwater unfit for office in 1964. Here’s the rule from the APA’s “Principles of Medical Ethics,” and this rule is still in force:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement

There doesn’t seem to be a penalty for psychiatrists who flout this rule, however, as psychiatrists who have diagnosed Trump as ill, or even lobbied Congress to proceed with the Trump Dump, have suffered no penalties.

The many writings and activities of the therapeutic community—psychiatrists, their subset of psychoanalysts, as well as psychologists and medical doctors—to depose the President are detailed in Wikipedia as well as in the op-ed below that just appeared in USA Today. The author, Bandy X. Lee, is a forensic psychiatrist at Yale who’s spent a lot of her time trying to promote Trump’s removal on mental-health grounds. I wrote about her activities, and those of other therapists, in October of this year. (She also edited a book:  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President). But now that all of the professionals have failed to get Trump removed—and, anyway, the voters have done what the shrinks couldn’t—she’s back, this time arguing, too late for this case, that the Goldwater Rule violates the First-Amendment right of psychiatrists to speak up, and also (her usual line) that psychiatrists have a duty to speak up because of the danger that Trump poses to America.

Click on the screenshot to read:

 

 

Perhaps Dr. Lee is now concerned about future deranged Presidents, and maybe that’s why this appeared when Trump is already on the way out. As for my own opinion, well, yes, I think he’s a narcissist and a sociopath or psychopath, but I am not a professional therapist. If I were, I would not give my professional opinion, for I happen to believe that the Goldwater Rule is correct. Just as a medical doctor won’t give an opinion about what illness a public figure has if that hasn’t been revealed, so a psychiatrist (they’re all M.D.s) should keep mum about mental illness. There is of course a difference, as mental illness could render a President dangerous or ineffectual. But so could many diseases, like stroke or dementia. (Woodrow Wilson was rendered unfit to run the country by a stroke.)

That’s why the APA restated and supported the Goldwater Rule in 2018, a ruling that was even supported by the New York Times:

The psychiatrists say they have a duty to warn the public about what they see as a serious threat to the nation. That’s commendable, but they should consider how their comments will be taken by the vast majority of Americans, particularly in a highly politically polarized time. The language of mental health and illness is widely used yet poorly understood, and it comes loaded with unwarranted assumptions and harmful stereotypes. There’s a good reason the profession established an ethical guideline in 1973, known as the Goldwater Rule, that prohibits psychiatrists from offering professional judgment on public figures they have not personally examined.

The paper broached the correct solution: (impeachment didn’t work):

The best solution is the simplest: Vote, and organize others to register and to vote. If you believe Donald Trump represents a danger to the country and the world, you can take action to rein in his power. In November, you can help elect members of Congress who will fight Mr. Trump’s most dangerous behaviors. If that fails, there’s always 2020.

And, YES WE DID.  Lee herself seems a bit obsessive in publishing the same old same old at this late date, especially when there’s really no penalty for psychiatrists violating the Goldwater Rule. In her closing, she also says that the APA’s rule about keeping mum is a breach of the First Amendment:

We need to get back to basics. Painter stated at our conference: “the Goldwater rule … is a violation of your First Amendment rights, and a violation of your duty to your country and to human civilization.” It is a basic understanding that to remain silent against a critical medical need is a violation of our professional “responsibility to society,” as outlined in the first paragraph of the preamble of our ethics code. The APA should no longer mislead the public and the media into believing that its guild rule of restricting speech on public figures, which no other mental health association has and is not admissible on any state licensing board, is universal. The truly universal Declaration of Geneva says that we must prevent harm and injustice, especially when they are coming from a destructive government.

Lee is dead wrong about “other associations not having similar regulations,” for the American Psychological Association (another APA), has very similar rule:

Of course a psychiatrist or psychologist can give their opinion without government penalties, for such penalties do constitute censorship and it’s a violation of the First Amendment for the government to sanction anyone for saying that Trump is a loon. But the APA’s penalty (were it enforced) would be a sanction by a professional organization, so the First Amendment doesn’t come into play.

Is it a duty to America for therapists to say that Trump is mentally ill and unfit for office? Well, given what the NYT said, I doubt that such warnings would have any effect. In fact, they didn’t, because thousands of Democratic non-therapists have offered the same opinion, and none of it had any effect. Somehow Dr. Lee thinks that she and her colleagues have the unique medical power to pry Trump out of the Oval Office. They don’t—not with Pence and Trump’s cabinet being who they are. And the speech of Dr. Lee and her colleagues is not restricted. They had their say, and even wrote a book. It did no good, and that’s what you’d expect.

Were I a Democratic, anti-Trump psychiatrist or psychologist, I’d keep my gob shut about diagnoses and just say that Trump is endangering America—without tendering a professional opinion about his mental health. You can palpably point out how the man has damaged America without speculation about what in his brain made him do it.

h/t: Randy

Bill Maher on Trumpism as a cult

November 21, 2020 • 2:00 pm

Reader Bryan called my attention to this nine-minute clip from Bill Maher’s last “Real Time” show of the season.  After talking about Millerism, the failed end-times faith of the nineteenth century, Maher mentions another group that was disappointed and yet won’t accept their loss either: Trumpsters. He then dilates on cults, sycophants, and the self-promotion of Trump, demonstrating that Trumpism has many parallels with cults that worship a leader.

He winds up with a call to end our gloating and name-calling of our opponents, something that Andrew Sullivan emphasizes in this week’s Weekly Dish column.

Andrew Sullivan: There are bad people on both sides

November 14, 2020 • 9:30 am

Now that Trump has lost, but fails to admit it, Andrew Sullivan is surveying the wreckage of America, worried that Trump may try to throw the election into the House of Representatives. That dire scenario was described by Bart Gellman in the November Atlantic, and could—just conceivably—result in a legal victory for Trump.

I’m not as worried about that as is Sullivan. The press describes Trump’s aides as quietly nudging him towards the door, and although Republican politicians are loath to affirm Biden’s victory, I also believe they will start speaking up as the weeks pass and Trump still hasn’t conceded. But even if this doesn’t take place, Sullivan still presents a post-mortem in his Weekly Dish column below (click on screenshot).

First, Sullivan cites two sets of facts that seem accurate but also disturbing:

And yet a poll found that 70 percent of Republicans — with no credible evidence at all — believe that the election was rigged. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, not exactly a fringe character, baldly told Fox News: “President Trump won this election. So everyone who is listening, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.” Ten Republican state attorneys general have joined in the attempt to prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its election results. Senator Roy Blunt declared: “The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers, in fact he may not have been defeated at all.”

Well, 70% of Republicans still means less than half the country (unless some deluded Democrats think the election was rigged), but even 35% is a figure way, way too high. Still, as Sullivan says, “we are left for two months with an urgent crisis of legitimacy — and for years ahead, an incoming president Biden who will be deemed the beneficiary of massive fraud by a significant chunk of the country. ”

And there’s this, also casting a bad light on Republicans:

. . . . the damage this past week has already inflicted on basic democratic norms is incalculable. More foreign leaders have accepted Biden’s victory than Republican officials. Think about that for a bit.

So be it. Along with Sullivan, I see Trump’s actions as self-centered and carrying the threat of doing incalculable damage to American democracy.

Although nobody can compare Trump’s current behavior with that of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama after Trump’s 2016 victory (Clinton swiftly conceded and Obama facilitated a smooth transition), Sullivan, who sees himself as a conciliatory middle-of-the-roader, doesn’t find the Democrats innocent of the current mess:

Didn’t the Democrats do this first to Trump four years ago? Isn’t payback ok? Sure, many Dems did say that Trump won in 2016 because of Russia, with no solid proof of anything. Yes, Rachel Maddow is a disgrace. And, yes, some accused him of being an illegitimate president because of it, and because of his popular vote deficit. None of this was defensible rhetoric. And it’s a sign that our political culture has not just decayed on the right.

And he continues, arguing, perhaps justifiably, that the increasing wokeness associated with the Left, has also helped erode the strength of American democracy:

I’ve referred to this process of accelerating illegitimacy before as a Weimar dynamic. By Weimar, I don’t mean a direct parallel to the 1920s and early 30s in Germany. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that nightmare. I mean rather a democracy where the center is always much weaker than the extremes on both sides, where democratic procedures lose legitimacy with the public at large with each election cycle, where street violence supplements debate with the connivance of elites, where propaganda replaces information, and where all the energy is destructive.

I mean a conservatism that keeps surrendering to right-radicalism, because it no longer believes in the liberal project writ large. I mean a liberalism so lacking in conviction that it is  incapable of standing up to the woke left. I mean a media where outlets are incapable of housing a variety of opinions — because radicalized readers and activist journalists believe an open debate is a form of harm and oppression. I mean a left bent on packing courts, abolishing the filibuster, targeting religious freedom, and embracing direct race discrimination as payback for the injuries of the past. I mean a right indifferent to democratic norms, convinced that no Democratic president can be legitimate, consumed with conspiracy theories, and paranoid in a way only Americans can muster.

Much as I bridle at criticism of the more moderate Left as cowardly and censorious, there’s some truth in what Sullivan says. What, for example, is responsible for a Trump loss on the one hand, but a general Republican set of victories for Congressional seats and in state governments? Could it be an America thoroughly sick of Trump’s derangement but suspicious of a more extreme Left? If Democrats don’t win both contested seats in Georgia, the Senate will remain Republican and we’re in for at least two years of a stalemate, with Biden governing by executive order.  And I still worry about the possibility that both Biden and Harris will cave in to the Woke, which would damage the future of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps both Sullivan and I should be celebrating rather than neurosing. But the Republicans are behaving even worse about the election than I expected, and come January they will still be with us, enraged by Trump’s loss. The Woke are still with us, too, and, despite several readers’ predictions, I don’t think they’re going away when Biden enters the White House. Wokeness is by now a self-sustaining phenomenon, driven by the Left’s fear of being called racist, pushed by the media, and barreling to hell for lack of a clear brake on wokeness.

And, I suppose, I’m worried about Trump hanging around as a bellwether of Republican ideology. Could he run again in four years? I don’t think so, but he could, god forbid, become a Senior Republican Statesman with considerable influence. And so Sullivan ends not with a bang, but (god forbid again), a prayer. After all, both he and Biden are Catholics:

And [Trump] is not going away. Far from it. If he leaves office voluntarily, it will be to launch a movement founded around that very Weimar of constructs: a corrupt elite that stabbed the American people in the back in 2020, and robbed them of their votes. He will demand total Republican obstruction to anything Biden or the Democrats propose — because they are usurpers and crooks — and ensure his base remains permanently inflamed with anger and resentment. He will sabotage as much of our system as he can. And by pledging immediately to run in 2024, he will control the GOP as totally in the future as he has in the past.

The 2020 election did not resolve this crisis of legitimacy. It found two Americas, very evenly divided, and at war with one another. And in the days since it ended, it has become clearer and clearer not only that this house is divided, but that Trump would be more than happy to see it fall.

An older, frailer man — perhaps the last man standing in our political culture with deep affection for a less polarized past — has been tasked to hold our democracy together, even as the culture keeps tearing it apart. Pray for him.

“Pray for him”? Is this a metaphor for “send good thoughts and wishes” to Biden? Well, those won’t help, either. What we can do is support Biden politically, and go into the streets, which I swear I’ll do, if Trump tries to hold onto the Presidency.

The election mess continues, but Biden and Harris remain the victors

November 11, 2020 • 11:30 am

It’s pretty clear by now that there was no widespread vote fraud in the election, as Trump keeps insisting, enabled by Mitch “666” McConnell and the silent Republicans who won’t speak up out of fear of Trump.  The New York Times called election officials in all 50 states, asking them about voter fraud. The results won’t be appealing to Republicans:

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

Statewide officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas with a population greater than many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.” On Tuesday, the Republican lieutenant governor in Texas, Dan Patrick, announced a $1 million fund to reward reports of voter fraud.

Some states described small problems common to all elections, which they said they were addressing: a few instances of illegal or double voting, some technical glitches and some minor errors in math. Officials in all states are conducting their own review of the voting — a standard component of the certification process.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State has authorized a hand recount, which is said to be unlikely to reverse Biden’s victory. That recount is only for the top of the ticket, not affecting the two Senate races there, which are critical in determining whether there will be a 50/50 split in the Senate, or whether the GOP will dominate that chamber.

Trump could to at least some extent rehabilitate himself in the eyes of America if he simply issued a civil concession to Biden and exited peacefully. But remember that he’s got a personality disorder, and it’s not in his persona to do that. I’d really be surprised (but pleased) to see a polite concession and a noiseless exit. It doesn’t look like that’s in the cards.

Below is an informative 25-minute summary from the Biden/Harris campaign about Trump’s legal challenges to the election. It makes perfectly clear the clownish maneuvers that Trump’s minions are pulling in court, and also the extreme unlikelihood that any recount will change the overall results.

As Jennifer Rubin notes at The Washington Post,

To summarize: Six pre-election and seven post-election lawsuits by the Trump camp have all been tossed out. They are, as President-elect Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said, “noise.” Campaign counsel Bob Bauer cautioned that what is going on is “theatrics, not lawsuits.” Judges have described claims that the mail-in ballot system is rife with fraud as “fiction” or entirely based on speculation. None of the allegations about excluded poll watchers have been supported by facts. None of the social media memes about changed ballots or other shenanigans have stood up in court.

Interestingly, Trump’s lawyers refuse to say before a real judge that they have found fraud or other reasons to overturn results. (Keep in mind that, since 2000, only a few hundred votes have ever been changed in a single statewide recount.)

In a four-minute report, the indefatigable Jake Tapper of CNN shows how members of the Trump administration are refusing to accept the election results. The transfer of power requires that the old administration cooperate with the new, and I’m wondering if there will be any such cooperation.

 

And the tantrum continues:

It’s time for those who bet against me—these were all Democrats who said they’d be glad to pay me if Biden won—to fork over the dosh.

Andrew Sullivan on Trump’s appeal, Trump’s legacy, and the electoral repudiation of Wokeism

November 8, 2020 • 1:00 pm

There’s been some argument around these parts about whether Wokeism will increase or decrease when Trump is gone. On the “increase”, side, Biden is seen as an enabler of Wokeism, supposedly instantiated in his increasing leaning toward the Left, and in the fact that now the “progressive” left now sees a big opportunity to advance its program. (We’ll ignore the Senate for the time being.)

On the “decrease” side, one could argue that Wokeism was aggravated by Trump’s racism and the ascendancy of Republicans, and will calm down after Trump leaves. Some have conjectured, too, that Wokeism is exacerbated by the pandemic: people with not a lot to do can nurture and express their grievances.

My own view is that Wokeism is not going away any time soon, for the fear of being labeled a bigot—one of the main motivation for the excesses of Leftism and identity politics—is too deeply instilled in the Left to disappear. It also dominates liberal media, as well as universities. Biden, while he might not buy into it, won’t repudiate it, either: after all, he’s proclaimed himself the Great Compromiser. So I expect I’ll be at this for a while.

Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, thinks that the election represents a national repudiation of Wokeism, implying that it’s on its way out. Now, he dislikes these excesses as much as I, but the Woke don’t have to be the most numerous to prevail—they just have to be the loudest. Most important, they hold the trump card (excuse me) of being able to play on people’s guilt. And with guilt comes power.

At any rate, Sullivan’s take on the election, in his latest column at The Weekly Dish (now a subscribers-only site), has three interesting takes, all given in the title. I’ll take them in order, giving some quotes and a few reactions of my own. If you’re a subscriber, you can click on the screenshot, but you’ve probably already read his Friday column. I won’t quote him this extensively in the future as people who want to read him should subscribe.

Sullivan’s “Trumpism”: a conservatism he desires.  I had thought that Sullivan was slowly moving left, but perhaps the Right just moved further right. At any rate, he sees in the election a repudiation of Trump as a person (Sullivan, who detests him, strongly approves), but not all the principles he stood for, and some of those principles appeal to Sullivan:

This was far from the Biden landslide I had been dreaming about a few weeks back. It was rather the moment that the American people surgically removed an unhinged leader and re-endorsed the gist of his politics. It was the moment that Trump’s core message was seared into one of our major political parties for the foreseeable future, and realigned American politics. If Trump were sane, this is how he would describe his success — and leave office graciously to become the kingmaker in his own party. But he is not sane.

His impact, however, is undeniable. Neoconservatism is over; globalization as some kind of conservative principle is over; a conservatism that allows for or looks away from unrestrained mass immigration is over. What was cemented in place this week is a new GOP, not unlike the new Tories in the UK. They’re nationalist, culturally conservative, geared toward the losers of capitalism as well as its winners, and mildly protectionist and isolationist. It is a natural response to the unintended consequences of neoliberalism’s success under a conservative banner. And it speaks in a language that working class Americans understand, devoid of the woke neologisms of the educated elite. It seems to me that this formula is a far more settled and electorally potent coalition than what we now see among the deeply divided Democrats.

Now Sullivan doesn’t come straight out and say he likes this new kind of conservatism, but given what I know of his opinions, I think he does. And I’m not sure that his “new GOP” is really a thing, especially when he says it’s geared “toward the losers of capitalism as well as its winners.” Some of those losers are working-class whites, but many are people of color. It’ll be a cold day in July when blacks and Hispanics see the GOP as their party, despite their  movement towards it in this election and despite the socialists’ claim that class rather than color is important. If they’re right, capitalism’s “victims” should be on the Democrats’ side.

Trump’s appeal. I mentioned the other day that I think it’s both foolish and divisive to characterize everyone who voted for Trump as a racist. Many, I think, are not, but were either voting their pocketbook or wanted a law-and-order regime to counteract this summer’s protests. I was pleased to see that Sullivan agrees.

. . . this is where I think I have been wrong about Trump’s appeal, and where I think I’ve misunderstood why otherwise decent people could support such a foul disrupter of democratic norms. Many of them simply didn’t take Trump’s threat to our system seriously. They took all his assaults on democracy as so much bluster from the kind of car salesman he is. They deal with this kind of bullshit all the time, took liberal democracy for granted and saw little reason to fret about its future. The writer Jamie Kirchick says that everything Trump says makes sense if it is preceded by the following words: “And now, Donnie from Queens, you’re on the air.” Many people heard Trump exactly that way, and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. They weren’t endorsing his madness. They were looking past it. They were, in my opinion, wrong to be so cavalier. But I don’t think most were malignant extremists of any kind, or unaware of the hideous personal qualities of Trump.

And they enjoyed economic rewards that, absent the Covid19 recession, might well have swept Trump to victory. One of the more revealing results from the polls this year came in the answers to the core question made famous by Reagan: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” In previous campaigns to re-elect the president, Reagan was re-elected in a landslide with only 44 percent saying they were better off, George W. Bush won with 47 percent and Obama succeeded with 45 percent. For Trump, a mighty 56 percent said they were better off now than when he took office — a fundamental along with incumbency that should have led to a landslide re-election — and yet he still lost. That tells you something about Americans’ understanding of how unfit a president Trump turned out to be, even as they felt very good about their own wellbeing.

Many—perhaps most—Americans vote based on their own advancement, or lack thereof, under the last administration. (Even law and order is about personal safety rather than societal safety.) This is, again, something that much of the Left fails to understand. I don’t know if it explains the higher-than-expected vote for Trump, but if we’re to make any progress in the next four years, we have to stop the total demonization of our opponents. And that means we should stop tossing the term “racist” around cavalierly, and telling everyone they’re either an explicit or a secret racist.

Which brings us to Wokeism. As I noted, Sullivan sees the election as a repudiation of at least the “Woke Left”, and of identity politics.

[The election] was also clearly and unequivocally a rejection of the woke left. The riots of the summer turned many people off. In exit polls, 88 percent of Trump voters say it was a factor in their choice. On the question of policing and criminal justice, Trump led Biden 46 — 43 percent. For the past five years, Democrats have been telling us that Trump and his supporters were white supremacists, that he was indeed the “First White President” in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ words, that all minorities were under assault by the modern day equivalent of the KKK. And yet, the GOP got the highest proportion of the minority vote since 1960! No wonder Charles Blow’s head exploded. [Note that he cites Blows’s editorial I discussed yesterday.]

We may find out more as exit polling is pored over, but in the current stats, Trump measurably increased his black, Latino, gay and Asian support. 12 percent of blacks — and 18 percent of black men — backed someone whom the left has identified as a “white supremacist”, and 32 percent of Latinos voted for the man who put immigrant children in cages, giving Trump Florida and Texas. 31 percent of Asians and 28 percent of the gay, lesbian and transgender population also went for Trump. The gay vote for Trump may have doubled! We’ll see if this pans out. But it’s an astonishing rebuke of identity politics and its crude assumptions about how unique individuals vote.

Why did minorities shift slightly rightward after enduring four years of Trump? First off, many obviously rejected the narrative being pushed out by every elite media source: that the core of Trump’s appeal was racism. They saw a more complicated picture. I suspect that many African-Americans, for example, were terrified of “defunding the police” and pleased to be economically better off, with record low unemployment before Covid19 hit. Many legal Latino citizens, perplexing leftists, do not want continued mass immigration, and are socially conservative. Asians increasingly see the woke as denying their children fair access to education, and many gays just vote on various different issues, now that the civil rights question has been largely resolved by the Supreme Court.

Obviously a big majority of non-white and non-straight voters still backed Democrats. But the emergence of this coalition of minority conservatives is fascinating — and, of course, a complete refutation of what critical race theory tells us how minorities must feel. Ditto the gender gap. It’s there, but not quite the gulf we were led to believe. We have again been told insistently that being female in America today is a constant nightmare of oppression, harassment, violence and misogyny; and that no one represents this more potently than Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump. And yet white women still voted for Trump 55 to 43 percent. Among white women with no college education, arguably those most vulnerable to the predations of men, Trump got 60 percent support. This is not a wave of rage; and it suggests that the left’s notion of patriarchy is, in 2020, something many, many women just don’t buy, or do not believe should outweigh other, more important issues.

I’d like to think that Sullivan is right here, and he may well be.  But the Woke are still there, writing for the New York Times and the New Yorker, filling the colleges with highly-paid diversity consultants, and agitating to defund the cops.  All it takes for them to prevail is for others on the Left to go along from fear of being called a bigot or of being excoriated on social media.

 

A really funny Trump tweet

November 7, 2020 • 10:00 am

I never put up posts highlighting a single tweet, but this one, by Tr*mp, is so unhinged and rich that it made me laugh out loud. I rarely laugh out loud at anything, much less the words of this loon, but when Matthew sent this to me I audibly chuckled.

Good god! Nobody has called the election for Trump, and few have called the election at all (except for me, and remember that!).

This is the tweet of a nine-year-old having a public tantrum. Somebody give him is blankie!

It’s gonna be a fun ten weeks. I’m not the only one to find the tweet funny: