Tag Archives: Kelly Loeffler

Donald Trump, Please Keep Talking

If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do. — Statement by Donald Trump, the former president, October 13, 2021.

 

Picture by Hilary Stone Ginsberg

I think I speak for all progressives and a good smattering of moderates when I say: Go, Donnie, go! Whip up your supporters into a frenzy of not voting. The more they heed you, the better. 

After all, the non-voting strategy worked well in the two Georgia Senate runoff races in January 2021. In early December, two Trump allies, Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, urged Republicans not to vote for either Kelly Loeffler or Davide Perdue, the incumbent senators locked in a tight race against Democratic challengers. “Don’t be fooled twice,” Wood said. “This is Georgia, we ain’t dumb. We’re not going to go vote on January 5th on another machine made by China. You’re not going to fool Georgians again.” 

Yes, sir, that strategy worked well! Georgia Republicans apparently are not dumb(?) and, heeding Wood’s advice, were not fooled twice. According to an analysis of the election results by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, more than 750,000 Georgians who cast ballots in the November presidential election stayed home during the runoffs two months later. More than half of the no-shows were White and many lived in rural areas, demographic and geographic constituencies that lean heavily Republican. As one Georgian said, “What good would it have done to vote? They have votes that got changed.” 

The non-voting strategy worked so well that Democrats now control the Senate, albeit barely.

With Democrats divided among themselves over advancing President Joe Biden’s ambitious agenda and given the traditional bounce the party out of power gets in mid-term elections, Democrats may need oodles of Republicans to stay home in 2022 if they are to retain control of both the House and the Senate. The current Democratic razor-thin majorities in Congress would benefit greatly from great numbers of Republican no-shows around the country. 

Trump phrased his communication as a declarative statement, announcing that Republicans will not vote because of alleged fraud. But, like much of what Trump says to his followers, the above statement is likely to be interpreted by many in the Trump cult as a command not to vote, which probably was Trump’s intention. 

To the members of the Trump cult, it matters little that neither Trump nor his lawyers or sycophants have presented a shred of evidence of electoral fraud. If the Grand Poobah of Mar-a-Lago says he lost because of fraud, then it must be so for his ever loyal and unquestioning followers. And, presumably, millions of Republicans will heed his orders and not vote. 

So, here is one progressive’s dream-like scenario. With millions of Trump followers not voting in 2022, the Democrats win overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Democrats win over 300 seats in the House and dominate the Senate by a margin of 67-33. The House easily passes a raft of progressive legislation, and the paltry number of Republicans in the Senate are unable to filibuster the Biden agenda. Not only are Senate Republicans and naked-Emperor Mitch McConnell (see previous blog post) rendered impotent, but moderate Democrats — like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema — are overwhelmed and can no longer derail progressive legislation.

In early 2023, Democrats enact measures (or expand on the incomplete legislation of 2021) guaranteeing free community college for all, child care for toddlers, child tax credits, expanded Medicare and Medicaid (perhaps even Medicare-for-All), the Green New Deal, paid parental leave, and much more. Immigration is reformed, giving millions of the undocumented a pathway to citizenship. And, voting rights are protected by a bill that enshrines early voting and mail-in balloting, makes Election Day a federal holiday, and rolls back all the Republican-passed state laws that suppress and nullify the vote and disempower state officials in their roles in the electoral process.

Trump and his followers wake up and realize that not voting is not a very good idea. But, since they conceded the 2022 election to Democrats, the 2024 presidential election will be free and fair. Even as Republicans flock to the polls again, their votes cannot change the outcome. Tens of millions of Americans are pleased with the Democratic legislation that has brought the United States into the modern world, guaranteeing a social safety net comparable to that of other industrialized democracies. And, all those pleased Americans can now vote freely and fairly, without the threat of Republicans suppressing and nullifying the votes of those who tend to vote Democratic. So, Joe Biden sweeps to a landslide re-election and the Democrats retain their large majorities in both the House and Senate. 

Go ahead, Donnie, please keep issuing statements. You may be the Democrats’ best friend yet!

Posted October 15, 2021

“Obamagate” — Accusation First, No Details to Follow

Philip Rucker, correspondent for The Washington Post: What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing?

President Donald Trump: Obamagate…. You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.Exchange in the White House Rose Garden this past Monday.

When President Donald Trump says “everybody,” read nobody. Nobody, except him, of course.

It is an odd scandal that even the supposed victim cannot define. The timing is odd, too, given that Trump has been president for almost a full term and just now is getting around to investigating a crime he alleges “has been going on for a long time.” But, then again, more than 85,000 deaths — and counting — and the worst unemployment numbers since the Great Depression require a diversion. Trump is so much in need of a diversion that he suggested Republicans in the Senate demand former President Barack Obama testify in person “about the biggest political scandal in the history of the USA.” Be careful for what you ask, Mr. President. If Obama were forced to testify, what would keep a Democratic Senate from insisting on Trump’s testimony after he leaves office? But, of course, we know the rules apply to everyone but Donald Trump.

While “Obamagate” may be a snappy title in search of a scandal, the broad outlines of what “there” there is goes something like this: Russia, according to the narrative, did not undermine the 2016 elections, and attempts to investigate Russian interference in American domestic politics were part of a “deep state plot” to deny Trump an electoral victory and elevate Hillary Clinton to the presidency.

It is an odd conspiracy, indeed, that shot its arrows at Trump but finished off Clinton, instead. Remember, it was then-FBI Director Jim Comey — the bête noire of the conspiracy-minded — who reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails 10 days before the election. Comey’s decision may well have cost Clinton the election. In any event, Comey’s action was hardly consistent with that of a deep-state conspirator hellbent on denying Trump victory. But, then again, logic never stood in the way of a good conspiracy, especially when the victors claim to be the victims.

The FBI investigation into campaign connections between Russia and Trump uncovered phone calls between Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn’s subsequent lies about that phone call forced Trump to fire the former general, who twice pleaded guilty to lying. The ins and outs of the Flynn saga are well known, and need not be rehashed here. (See The Guardian for a handy refresher.) Suffice it to say that the Justice Department’s investigator general found the FBI investigation legitimate (though he did criticize the agency for errors in wiretapping applications). Suffice it to say also, that the Flynn-Russia connection set off the chain of events that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian electoral interference.

The label first, crime to follow reminds me of William Randolph Hearst’s famous cable to illustrator Frederick Remington in Havana in 1897: “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” The avatar of yellow journalism, Hearst was zealous for war with Spain, and was responding to Remington’s complaint that there was no war to cover. I am also reminded of the numerous Republican congressional investigations into the tragic murder of four diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. Endless probes found no wrongdoing on the part of former Secretary of State Clinton, but probably did succeed in damaging her reputation, which was the point all along.

Citing “Obamagate” is Trump’s way to undermine investigations into the Russia connection, especially the Mueller report. It is probably no coincidence — again, pay attention to the timing — that the FBI Wednesday night seized the cellphone of Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina as part of an investigation into insider stock trades connected to the outbreak of COVID-19. Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr agreed with Mueller’s conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI raid was an obvious ploy, and it worked. The next day, Burr temporarily stepped down as head of the committee. Now, to be sure, Burr merits investigation, but so does Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, for her controversial stock transactions. The FBI may yet be forced to investigate Loeffler since the transparency of going after Burr and not her is obvious. If that happens, the hapless Georgia Republican will be collateral damage for a president who shows no loyalty to the loyal. (The Justice Department-ordered takedown of Burr is a frightening indication that Trump’s undermining of the separation of powers as a prelude to a dictatorship is succeeding.)

Impugning Obama to rally the base is, of course, not a new Trumpian tactic. Remember, Trump built his political career on the racist “birther” conspiracy accusation. The image of a successful president who was scandal-free, popular, and smarter than Trump and who is black probably is never far from the current president’s thoughts (though granted Trump probably thinks he is smarter than Obama). Nor is it far from the thoughts of Trump sycophants such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had the audacity to call Obama “classless.” McConnell was reacting to leaked comments from Obama criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic and the Justice Department’s move to dismiss charges against Flynn.

Obama spoke last week on a video call with thousands of his supporters, so he probably was not surprised by the leak and may even have wanted it. But, Senator McConnell, “Classless?” Calling Obama, who presided over a scandal-free administration, classless in defense of Trump? A president — and I will cite only very recent examples — who baselessly accuses a television anchor of murder? A president who — more than once — launches racist attacks against Asian American reporter Weija Jiang of CBS News? Evidently, the Kentucky Republican has forgotten that his wife was born in Taiwan.

“Classless” is a stereotypical slur when applied to African Americans. McConnell, who chooses his words carefully, knew what he was saying. Those words fit into the current narrative about the coming election. Trump cannot run on his record — a failed response to the pandemic and a sinking economy — so he needs diversions. No diversion is better than running against old enemies, a strategy endorsed by the Republican establishment. No enemy is more available to Trump than Obama. Except, perhaps, for Clinton. Can chants of “lock her up” be far away?

Posted May 15, 2020

Behaving Badly in the Time of COVID-19

 

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel’s gripping 2014 novel, describes a post-apocalyptic world 20 years after a horrific pandemic wipes out 99 percent of humanity and destroys civilization. After the outbreak of the “Georgia flu” (named for the nation in the Caucasus), there are no planes, no trains, no gasoline for cars (thousands of automobiles are abandoned on clogged highways), no electricity, and no Internet. Formerly law-abiding people are forced to commit unthinkable crimes, including murder, to survive. Though there is hope at the end of the novel — Mandel stresses the redemptive value of art — survival hinges on people behaving badly. 

The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our world is not as contagious as Mandel’s Georgia flu nor is it as deadly (in Station Eleven, everyone exposed dies). Science probably will find a vaccine and a cure, most people will survive, and civilization will not collapse. Still, art mimics life, and vice versa, and teaches lessons. Unlike in Mandel’s fictional account, most people are behaving well as COVID-19 spreads. But, sadly, there are numerous examples of our leaders acting out of self-interest with little concern for public well-being. Most of these examples are of Republican politicians acting badly in this awful time.

Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia behaved badly. Burr, as chair of the Intelligence Committee, received regular briefings on the threat posed by COVID-19. He kept that information to himself, then sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock in major companies. The transactions came after President Donald Trump publicly played down the crisis and Burr published an opinion piece in Fox News suggesting America was “better prepared than ever before” to combat the contagion. Among the shares Burr sold was stock in two hotel chains. The sale was a savvy insider move, as the hospitality industry has been badly affected by the public response to the pandemic.

Loeffler and her husband reported 27 stock sales worth millions of dollars beginning on January 24. That day she tweeted that she received a briefing from “the President’s top officials” on the looming threat, but provided no information other than that officials “are working around the clock to keep our country safe and healthy.” Loeffler’s self-serving behavior gets worse. The same day she began selling shares in vulnerable companies she bought a sizable chunk of shares in Citrix, a technology company that specializes in teleworking software. The company’s stock has risen, as expected, since the crisis began. Loeffler reportedly is liquidating her portfolio. It is amazing what bad publicity can accomplish, especially in an election year. (Other senators — including California Democrat Dianne Feinstein — also recently sold stock, but apparently their holdings were in blind trusts.)

Everyone involved in the fiasco surrounding Tuesday’s Wisconsin election behaved badly. In addition to the Democratic presidential primary, the state held an election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Trump urged his followers to vote for the Republican incumbent in an unsafe election in which citizens were forced to choose between voting and possibly becoming very ill and even dying. Prior to the election, the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, insisted he did not have authority to change the election date, then requested the Republican-controlled legislature extend the date for the reception of mail-in ballots so that more people could vote safely. The Republicans refused to do so (for fear of setting a dangerous precedent that would permit wide-spread mail-in voting in November), so Evers acted on his own to delay in-person voting and extend the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots. After a number of contradictory lower court rulings, the Supreme Court refused to extend the deadline for voting.

Bad behavior everywhere in this sorry tale, but especially by the vacillating governor; by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, who voted to refuse to extend election deadlines but showed up on election day fully decked out in protective gear, saying it was “incredibly safe” to vote in person; and especially by the five conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court. The Republican appointees declared, “Lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election” — as if this were an ordinary time. The majority insisted that Wisconsinites risk infection even as the high court prudently delayed hearing oral arguments. 

Also, behaving badly are all those governors of red states who have refused or delayed imposing stay-at-home orders. They may take solace in the hope that the virus is not a threat in less-densely populated areas. That has proven to be untrue, as the contagion has spread to parts of Georgia and Mississippi. Moreover, many red states lack the medical infrastructure to care for an upsurge of sick patients. Those governors may believe the economy should remain open or that liberty is threatened by shelter-in-place restrictions, but their failure to act endangers all Americans at risk from a virus that does not respect geographic borders. 

Then, there is Trump, who can always be counted on to behave badly. The president’s missteps in this crisis have been well documented, especially in The Washington Post’s magnificent analysis  of the Trump administration’s 70-day denial of the threat and dysfunction in responding. Trump continues to bully governors critical of his actions, lie about the availability of testing and medical equipment, accuse healthcare professionals who are risking their lives of wrongdoing, and ignore science. But, behaving badly is second nature to the toddler in the White House.

In Station Eleven, there is no description of official reaction to the pandemic that killed almost everyone within hours. Our calamity is different, fortunately. Still, no one knows how or when the current crisis will end. Societal norms are fragile in the best of times. Many take their cues from political leaders, for better or worse, and official actions may be influencing public behavior. There is evidence of a partisan divide in the public reaction to the need for social distancing. Many Republicans, apparently, have noted what the president and their state and local leaders have said; they are refusing to social distance while Democrats appear to be following the recommendations. If our officials act badly, how can we expect citizens to do better?

Posted April 10, 2929