Tired of ads? Want to support our progressive journalism? Click to learn more.LEARN MORE

How a congressional un-American activities caucus of radical Republicans is trying to destroy our government

The only good thing we can see in next Wednesday's planned stage set of Trump vs. Democracy is that the challenge finally will put the names of Republicans who believe in a coup on the record.

In any normal world, that should mean that they have signed a political death warrant. Who wants to stand election in a world where elections are declared null and void?

But in these divided United States, these Republican plotters may well emerge as some kind of patriotic if zany Donald Trump loyalists worthy of a return to office. After all, it has been reported widely that most of the 74 million who voted for Trump believe without evidence the election for president was fraud-filled, and stolen by Joe Biden's radical leftists. Almost five dozen court challenges later, there still is no evidence.

The only three election fraud cases to be prosecuted this year have involved individual Republicans seeking to vote for Trump.

We can expect that more than a few will not accept any resolution here, and turn to the streets, even to violence, to keep Trump in office.

First, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri offered himself as the single required senator to step up to the formal election challenge and joining with the 140 or so Republicans in the House. We are facing a formal operetta to delay declaring Biden the next president. Set aside that Hawley likely is motivated by early recognition of his own presidential hopes for the next election. And even set aside that it is numerically impossible to see a successful vote to overturn the election results. It will still be a slap to the country's most central traditions.

But then, on Saturday, nearly a dozen Republican senators and senators-elect led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said they, too, will reject electors from some states won by Biden, citing without evidence allegations of voter fraud and calling for an emergency 10-day audit of results. It is an attempt, they said, to give voice to those who don't believe the election was conducted fairly, despite no investigation nor court finding any evidence of wrongdoing.

What We Face

What we will get is another airing of baseless accounts—some made up, some just legally incomplete—that selected results from contested states like Pennsylvania were swayed by so-called suitcases of votes suddenly appearing late at night, by reliance on mail balloting that Democrats used for recruiting in a time of the pandemic, by machinery that magically changed votes only in districts with higher Black and minority populations.

From Hawley's statements, his challenge to automatic acceptance of receiving the Electoral College results—the ritual that is scheduled before the incoming Congressional session—is only a call to get focus on the actual Trump complaints about the election, despite procedural and substantive rejection by scores of state and federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The only three election fraud cases to be prosecuted this year have involved individual Republicans seeking to vote for Trump. Hmm.

For once, we may find ourselves in agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republicans should just drop this nonsense and move on, this act of public Trump loyalty is more than a ceremonial call. McConnell believes that it will hurt Republican political fates to have to split his party members on whether to publicly appear to back Trump even through election fantasy or stand for realism.

As a vote-counter who holds his own idea of a Senate caucus as the controlling arm of government, McConnell clearly hates anything that seems to weaken his position.

Trump, of course, cares only about Trump, and McConnell is a temporary obstacle, and Hawley is this week's hero, preempting incoming Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who previously had offered to launch the formal challenge.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing about another loony lawsuit by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, among the pure-bred Trumpists, filed seeking a legally strange and strained argument that Vice President Mike Pence, the titular presiding officer of Wednesday's session, act in a way to hold up acknowledging election results, or insisting that votes of alternate slates of electors be the ones accepted. And this prompted Pence's lawyers to go to court to argue – successfully -- that the lawsuit that ostensibly asks to give him more power be thrown out.

It's political weirdness that seems so last year now.

Silliness Personified

Throughout, we keep hearing the alarmed tone of academics, legal experts, election officials, journalists and pundits as they intone that a judgment on democracy itself is being served up here. They are not wrong, but they keep missing the point that this is all for show toward creating an aggrieved Donald Trump – and for guaranteed future fund-raising.

Here's Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist: "There is no irregularity or evidence of fraud that justifies this move. It is pandering to a party's base which has lost touch with reality and fidelity to our Constitution. . . Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the lawsuit 'seditious abuse.' That's an apt description for Hawley's latest move."

When looked at that way, these unfolding events need a different filter – like looking at political showmanship and advertising.

Trump himself finally seems engaged enough by the developments to come off the golf course long enough to oversee the staging of a pretend coup – or to be present for coronation should an actual coup somehow emerge from all the chaos being sown.

We can even add in the dramatic almost-certainty that the two Senate races in Georgia on Tuesday won't be resolved in time to seat any of the four candidates on Wednesday.

My advice: Keep track of those voting to dump the votes of 82 million Americans who voted for Biden to insist that the only votes that count come from Republican districts.

You can start with these: Senators Cruz and Hawley, Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Mike Braun (Ind.) with incoming Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall Kan.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.). Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama will be the first among House Republicans.

Actually, if they believe what they say, these Republicans should simply quit, and refuse to serve. After all, they, too, came to office via elections equally flawed—whatever the evidence.

Or better, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should refuse to seat them, because they are choosing not to follow their oaths.

And, when they don't, we should simply get rid of them all: They don't believe in American democracy.

This last day of a very horrible 2020 perfectly encapsulates the year's frustrations

Donald Trump tweeted early yesterday on the reality that his crowning achievement of the year, getting vaccine research moving quickly, is bogged down hopelessly:

"The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!"

And there it is in 120 characters:

Love me for what I've done and shut your mouth about any criticism. Look away from 325,000 American COVID-19 deaths, including Republican Luke Letlow, 41, a Congressman-elect from Louisiana. Forget that many deaths could have been avoided by with a strong position on normal public health measures. And if anything is wrong here, it's not my fault. I take no responsibility for the results.

We have ended the year with Dear Leader preening himself, insisting to Washington and the nation that they heed his every requirement for adoration and ... spending his days golfing and ignoring the realities that the coronavirus is wreaking across the country.

Pure Trump. Pure 2020. Pure personal politics over all else. Pure BS.

Despite repeated promises for rapid deployment with pressured emergency approvals from the Federal Drug Administration, and with two vaccines being distributed with at least two more in the pipeline, we find ourselves at the literal end of the year with only 2 million inoculations rather than 20 million.

We are ending 2020 as we have lived the last four years. Dear Leader is preening himself, insisting Washington and the nation heed his every requirement for adoration and re-election despite losing and spending his days golfing and ignoring the realities the coronavirus is wreaking.

We can agree that there Is Zero Percent efficacy for vaccines that never make it to the arms of Americans.

Logistical Issues

States are finding that getting the earliest vaccines into arms is proving to be the predicted logistical challenge.

There are delays due to some allergic reactions, complications from having omitted pregnant patients from clinical trials and red tape as nursing homes only now start the tedious job of collecting vaccine approval paperwork from family members. There are issues about refrigeration, as expected, and there have been various administrative screw-ups.

It'll get resolved in time, of course, just not immediately.

But rather than own the issue on behalf of anxious Americans, Trump is disowning any responsibility for getting the job done. We have Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, vacationing on the ski slopes of Colorado. We have babble from the mouths of federal health agency heads.

We have calls for immediate patience from governors trying simultaneously:

  • to stop additional surges of coronavirus
  • to watch the airports for flights from the UK and elsewhere where new strains are reported
  • to find retirees and other volunteers to work at inoculation sites still located in the very hospitals that are overwhelmed with surges of new patients because too many Americans decided to party rather than isolate during holidays

And we have righteous anger from President-elect Joe Biden over the slow start to inoculations and the withholding of appropriate information about how it is all supposed to be working.

What we don't have is enough of a jump on stopping this virus.

Everywhere but Mar-a-Lago

The nightly news country-wide reflects overfilled hospital wards. The number of infected has reached nearly 20 million, with deaths accelerating. The government's great hope: Vaccines. Otherwise, there is talk of military precision, but no plan.

Instead, there is government dissension every time health official Dr. Anthony Fauci's estimates move a little more about how we finally get to needed levels of immunity. There is Trump continuing to say schools, businesses and the economy should be open fully and stoking political resistance to state orders for quarantines, masks and social distancing.

Trump talks bigger individual stimulus payments without getting Republican senators to go along. There is no linkage of the payments in return for temporary shutdowns of regions hard hit.

Indeed, Trump and Republicans agree that a little money should go to states to pay for the distribution of vaccines or for hardening schools and businesses from contagion.

For Trump, the credit should go to him, the work should go to the states.

Biden is offering us grim assessments about more death and troubles before vaccines can get to where they are needed. He says this is "the greatest operations challenge we've ever faced as a nation."

As far as we can tell, by the end of this week, the government insists that about 14 million doses will have been distributed to states, although there's been a lot of apologizing about whether those totals match what was promised by end of December. There is no real explanation of why that has resulted in 2 million inoculations by 50 states or hundreds of distribution points.

Instead, there's a whole lot of scrambling under way to prove that we've equally focused effort on manufacturing and drug store distribution partners, further vaccine approvals and respect for local decision-making about who gets the available vaccines.

There's not a lot of government talk about what hasn't gotten done. In other words, it feels as if it is a replay of start-stop coordination of testing and any of the broader plans to stop the disease.

Is it too much to ask for people – Trump included – to do their jobs completely?

The Final Showdown: Here's what to watch for when congress meets next week to review electoral college votes

Next week's vote by the incoming Congress on the Electoral College roll-up of November election results will be anything but routine.

But, as has become the usual way, too much attention is focused on the personalities involved and not enough on the effects on the country.

Indeed, it feels much more depressingly usual that we could have debate to resolve a fantasy election challenge than we can have to settle the new outstanding impasse over a presidential hissy fit over signing an overdue coronavirus aid bill – a signing that came without explanation last night.

A final showdown will make this country weaker in the eyes of adversaries, invite more chaos and make it tons more difficult to move ahead.

The cast of the Jan. 6. drama includes Donald Trump, of course, whose obsession with the fantasy of a Congress overturning reality is center stage; Sen. Mitch McConnell and his apparently doomed hopes for a unified Republican caucus; the puppetry of incoming Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), acting on behalf of Trump; and the spinelessness of Vice President Mike Pence, who is caught in the unfortunate speaking role of recognizing (or not) the vocal attempts of a few Trump loyalists in both houses to float the required objections to the Electoral College results.

Oh yeah, there also is a president-elect-in-waiting expecting to move into the White House on Jan. 20.

From a point removed enough from the scuffling to take a deep breath, the question is why so little concern in this dust-up is about the well-being of the country rather than calming the insistent demands of the Trump personal tantrum.

For Trump, like a perceived Louis XIV from another era, the state actually is him, and, in his delusion, Trump must think what he is doing is toward Making America Great.

Actually, what an arbitrarily disruptive Jan. 6 vote is doing is to continue and, in fact, accelerate Trump's attacks on trust in American institutions. A final showdown to attempt to overturn an American election will make this country weaker in the eyes of adversaries, invite more chaos at a time already fraught with illness and economic disruption and make it tons more difficult to move ahead with the many aspects of governance that require actual review – and change.

Avoiding a Fight

Multiple news articles are reflecting similar themes about this pending last-ditch election challenge, even amid a few hints from pundits that perhaps Trump had been holding back on signing the coronavirus bill in return for promised Republican leadership help on contesting the election.

The set-up: A single objection from both a House and Senate member to the presentation of Electoral College results kicks off a two-hour debate and vote in each house on the objection.

Here's TheHill.com: "National Republicans are desperate to avoid a floor fight in Congress over the certification of the Electoral College vote next month, believing it would be horrible politics to continue waging what most recognize to be a hopeless battle to overturn the outcome of the election."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Deputy John Thune (R-S.D.) have asked their Republican Senate colleagues not to join Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or other House members looking to object to the election results. Incoming Tuberville says he is heeding Trump's urge for Republicans to revolt. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are wild cards.

Trump this week threatened to primary Thune in the next election, showing what he believes to be his iron fist.

On top of all else, the two races on Jan. 5 in Georgia are so close that it seems likely we will not have those two seats filled on the following day.

Those who follow these procedural issues closely say any revolt will not be effective. Already too many Republican senators say they will oppose any effort to overturn the election, starting with Mitt Romney (R-Utah), but also including Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

And Trump's inner circle of lawyers still have one last case pending before a Supreme Court that already has shot down the appeal from Texas to overturn, without evidence, the elections in four contested states. Trump has been waving a 36-page document assembly by Trade Representative and non-lawyer Peter Navarro compiling unverified affidavits and complaints as if they are evidence.

What's the Alternative?

Pence is in a strange position, among the last of the Trump defenders. As vice president, it is he who presides over the joint meeting of Congress that day and it is he who must accept or reject the objections from the floor. My bet is that he accepts the objection, allows the votes to shoot down the objection, before slinking out of town on a previously set foreign trip he announced for cover.

Off to the side, Trump's armies of white supremacists and loyalists seem to care little about either the realities of the election nor the actual rules for such affirmation of Electoral College outcomes. They want only what they want – Dear Leader for another four years and the ouster of Joe Biden as an imposter president-elect.

They are making clear to anyone who stands in the way – including Fox News, Newsmax, retiring attorney general William P. Barr, governors and state legislators – that they will have their way, even threatening violence to get it.

So, a congressional procedural floor fight is just symbolic.

Trump just wants chaos that continues to keep him in the limelight, and puts himself in the position of aggrieved candidate from whom reelection was stolen. That allows him to continue collecting tons of unrestricted money from supporters, to threaten a new election try in four years and to seek to establish himself as shadow president-in-exile, whose tweets and opinions he thinks will matter.

Of course, instead, Trump could stand on principle here—for elections not his own. If he truly thinks there was fraud, he could be asking for a full review and evaluation of the things that he thinks the states should change – from procedures governing mail ballots and authentication to a required mechanical review of voting machines.

We know Trump cares only about his own political fortunes, however, and believes that he gains by causing agita for the country.

He already has his 2024 would-be red hat: Make America Chaotic.

Congress could erupt in chaos next week -- here's why

From all that we hear about next week's pending vote by the incoming Congress to affirm the Electoral College roll-up of November election results, it will be anything but routine.

But, as has become the usual way, too much attention is focused on the personalities involved and not enough on the effects on the country.

Indeed, it feels much more depressingly usual that we could have debate to resolve a fantasy election challenge than we can have to settle the new outstanding impasse over a presidential hissy fit over signing an overdue coronavirus aid bill – a signing that came without explanation last night.

A final showdown will make this country weaker in the eyes of adversaries, invite more chaos and make it tons more difficult to move ahead.

The cast of the Jan. 6. drama includes Donald Trump, of course, whose obsession with the fantasy of a Congress overturning reality is center stage; Sen. Mitch McConnell and his apparently doomed hopes for a unified Republican caucus, the puppetry of incoming Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), acting on behalf of Trump, and the spinelessness of Vice President Mike Pence, who is caught in the unfortunate speaking role of recognizing (or not) the vocal attempts of a few Trump loyalists in both houses to float the required objections to the Electoral College results.

Oh yeah, there also is a president-elect-in-waiting expecting to move into the White House on Jan. 20.

From a point removed enough from the scuffling to take a deep breath, the question is why so little concern in this dust-up is about the well-being of the country rather than calming the insistent demands of the Trump personal tantrum. For Trump, like a perceived Louis XIV from another era, the state actually is him, and, in his delusion, Trump must think what he is doing is towards Making America Great.

Actually, what an arbitrarily disruptive Jan. 6 vote is doing is to continue and, in fact, accelerate Trump's attacks on trust in American institutions. A final showdown to attempt to overturn an American election will make this country weaker in the eyes of adversaries, invite more chaos at a time already fraught with illness and economic disruption, and make it tons more difficult to move ahead with the many aspects of governance that require actual review – and change.

Avoiding a Fight

Multiple news articles are reflecting similar themes about this pending last-ditch election challenge, even amid a few hints from pundits that perhaps Trump had been holding back on signing the coronavirus bill in return for promised Republican leadership help on contesting the election.

The set-up: A single objection from both a House and Senate member to the presentation of Electoral College results kicks off a two-hour debate and vote in each house on the objection.

Here's TheHill.com: "National Republicans are desperate to avoid a floor fight in Congress over the certification of the Electoral College vote next month, believing it would be horrible politics to continue waging what most recognize to be a hopeless battle to overturn the outcome of the election."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Deputy John Thune (R-S.D.) have asked their Republican Senate colleagues not to join Rep. Mo Brooks R-Ala.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or other House members looking to object to the election results. Incoming Tuberville says he is heeding Trump's urge for Republicans to revolt, and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are wild cards.

Trump this week threatened to primary Thune in the next election, showing what he believes to be his iron fist.

On top of all else, the two races on Jan. 5 in Georgia are so close that it seems likely we will not have those two seats filled on the following day.

Those who follow these procedural issues closely say any revolt will not be effective. Already too many Republican senators say they will oppose any effort to overturn the election, starting with Mitt Romney (R-Utah), but also including Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

And Trump's inner circle of lawyers still have one last case pending before a Supreme Court that already has shot down the appeal from Texas to overturn, without evidence, the elections in four contested states. Trump has been waving a 36-page document assembly by Trade Representative and non-lawyer Peter Navarro compiling unverified affidavits and complaints as if they are evidence.

What's the Alternative?

Pence is in a strange position, among the last of the Trump defenders. As vice president, it is he who presides over the joint meeting of Congress that day and it is he who must accept or reject the objections from the floor. My bet is that he accepts the objection, allows the votes to shoot down the objection, before slinking out of town on a previously set foreign trip he announced for cover.

Off to the side, Trump's armies of white supremacists and loyalists seem to care little about either the realities of the election nor the actual rules for such affirmation of Electoral College outcomes. They want only what they want – Dear Leader for another four years and the ouster of Joe Biden as an imposter president-elect.

They are making clear to anyone who stands in the way – including Fox News, Newsmax, retiring Atty. Gen. William P. Barr, governors and state legislators – that they will have their way, even threatening violence to get it.

So, a congressional procedural floor fight is just symbolic.

Trump just wants chaos that continues to keep him in the limelight, and puts himself in the position of aggrieved candidate from whom reelection was stolen. That allows him to continue collecting tons of unrestricted money from supporters, to threaten a new election try in four years and to seek to establish himself as shadow president-in-exile, whose tweets and opinions he thinks will matter.

Of course, instead, Trump could stand on principle here—for elections not his own. If he truly thinks there was fraud, he could be asking for a full review and evaluation of the things that he thinks the states should change – from procedures governing mail ballots and authentication to a required mechanical review of voting machines.

We know Trump cares only about his own political fortunes, however, and believes that he gains by causing agita for the country.

He already has his 2024 would-be red hat: Make America Chaotic.

Donald Trump didn't drain the swamp -- he is the swamp

Stop talking about draining swamps in Washington. You're just adding to them instead.

Pardoning convicted and confessed campaign associates, disgraced, discarded members of your own political party, and those found guilty of the murder of Iraqi civilians disqualifies you from talking swamp.

You're a swamp maker – these pardons are the very epitome of that swamp that has feathered its own nest in office, including you, who sees this act of clemency only as a chance to promote your own case.

And worse, on the same day, you are putting in danger this frail legislative deal – negotiated with your own people – that is meant to start helping millions.

Donald Trump, you apparently cannot stop yourself from insisting that you know better that Wrong is Right than judges, voters, advisers, allies or even his own loyalists – any more than you can respect scientists, educators, or anyone citing the Constitution.

Instead, disgracefully again last night, you showed us your unrestrained imperial self once again showed—through pardons that may have been expected from you but are a sneer at American, and refusing to sign this bill in a way that puts all of it, from food aid to actually running the government at all, at serious risk.

It seems that under the pressure of having to leave the White House stage, you are proving is a danger to the health and morality of the United States. You are fully acting like a madman, flailing against law, limits or the prospect of causing harm to others

More To Come, Clearly

The only trouble with getting angry about you issuing 20 pardons for campaign friends caught up in the Mueller Report – and pleading guilty – and the three dishonored Republican former congressmen who spent our money on themselves -- is that we know there are more pardons to come.

But it does make me angry that you have no respect for your job, your role, or our country outside of trying to use these pardons to insist that your excesses and those of your friends never happened.

I'll grant you this: You won't give up in the face of fact, political reality or private advice of even those close to him. You just can't give up the spotlight.

These pardons and commutations of sentence for George Papadopoulos and the lawyer Alex van der Zwaan from the Russia investigation – who both pleaded guilty to lying to investigators – doesn't change their involvement in an overabundance of contacts between your 2016 campaign and Russian operatives, any more than the previous pardons for Michael T. Flynn and Roger Stone. They just underscore that you hold yourself and your friends above the law.

Your pardons of former Republican congressmen Duncan D. Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas just shows that you have no respect for the exact principles of swamp that you have preached. Indeed, you yourself should be looked at for profiting in office.

And your pardons four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians, including boys aged 8 and 11, while working as contractors for Blackwater in 2007 are an affront to the honor codes of the military as well as a snub of humanitarianism.

Whatever you think you're trying to achieve in these pardons reflects the exact opposite.

The Veto Threat

At almost the same time, your videoed remarks vowing not to sign this mammoth bill that finally starts to address ill effects of coronavirus that you have allowed to lie fallow for months is simply governmental malpractice.

The list of what you could have done since the Democratic House passed its version of this bill last June is huge. Instead, you have frittered time and focus on yourself and your flailing about losing the election.

None of us was happy to see congressional leaders pass the relief bill by combining it with the broader spending plan to fund government operations and the military. Of course, it dealt with things other than relief alone. This is not a surprise – except apparently to you.

If you had wanted a higher direct payment to Americans in relief, you would have pushed the total cost of the disputed legislation higher to match the mathematics.

Instead, you insisted on petulance from the White House, and now present your legislative grievances as something everyone should rethink on the fly.

You don't belong in your job. Thankfully, voters agreed.

discussions about whether employers can require vaccination to return to work. And whether the Biden Labor Department will take a much more aggressive role in inspecting workplaces for safety, for example.

At the end of the day, a whole lot of Washington is going to feel itself prideful about turning itself inside-out to achieve a modicum of bipartisanship over something that, while differences exist, should have been a no-brainer for months already.

Biden is going to tap into every bit of that mock pride, and quickly.

As the end of the president's reign draws near, Trumpland gets whackier and whackier

Even for Donald Trump and the Republican Tabernacle Choir of the Senate, this weekend was an all-star level of crazy-making – another in which the White House could ignore a pandemic killing 3,000 Americans a day, widespread misery and an attack on the nation while discussing the possibility of martial law over Trump's election loss.

What saved it was the last-minute, roller-coaster deal in the Congress for a coronavirus aid bill, as ugly a compromise as possible, but an agreement nevertheless. Stand by for the conflicting credits and new discoveries about what actually passes today in the multi-hundred-page bill.

The whole weekend made me, at least, feel as if I live on a different planet – with theirs being one in which it is impossible to separate the important from the inane. We can all agree that the White House continues to make seeing the news an emotionally exhausting experience.

Just a sampling:

Transition interruptus: Donald Trump ordered halted any transition meetings between the Defense Department and the incoming Joe Biden team for the next few weeks. In what universe other than the Trump ego-fantasy does it make any sense for incoming Pentagon leadership not to know about the readiness of military forces, the global danger signs that the Pentagon is tracking, even the Defense spending patterns. Apparently, such meetings were halted because Trump was angered by seeing a Washington Post article that suggested the Biden team was looking at how many billions of dollars could be saved from re-routing money taken from the Pentagon for the border wall construction back to the military. I would hope that is something they should be considering.

Screwing up coronavirus economic aid: Even to their own members, the movement among Republican senators to find new religion for relief from debts and deficits by blocking coronavirus aid to Americans was reportedly being seen as nuts. The situation was fluid, but barely, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), led a late charge to stop lending by the supposedly independent Federal Reserve for businesses that need credit to stay afloat. A compromise finally got through around narrowing the proposal, setting Congress towards bill approval, but not before once again putting hunger and evictions over non-payment of rent for millions on real display and requiring a third, brief reset of the deadline clock for the final votes. Republicans had seen it as a fiscal necessity; Democrats saw a bid to throttle the incoming Joe Biden administration even before it takes office. Though the participants will see it as a victory, It was politics at its worst.

Ignoring cybersecurity hacking: Even after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was the Russians who broke through software walls guarding the Pentagon, the Treasury and Commerce Departments and the nuclear areas of the Energy Department, Trump still insisted Saturday it could have been the Chinese – adding that they could have adversely affected voting in the election as well, to account for his loss. Trump thinks we are idiots.

Trump's never-ending election challenges: More than six weeks after the election, Trump met in the White House on Friday night with the Sidney Powell, the lawyer who's outlandish arguments about election fraud were considered too far out of line for him to even keep her on as a personal lawyer, where they discussed making her a special counsel investigating voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion. Even Rudy Giuliani, present by phone, said no, as did White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Apart from all else, declaring a special counsel is the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, not the Oval Office. Powell is the one arguing conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States. It was unclear if Trump will move ahead on it. Meanwhile, Trump associate and disgraced, but pardoned, former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn is going around the country telling Trump to declare martial law over the election results.

The pending pardons: Politico reported that Trump is considering preemptively pardoning as many as 20 aides and associates before leaving office, even to the frustration of Senate Republicans who are arguing that strategy could backfire politically. Again, pardons are supposed to move through the Justice Department and a review process, and again Trump is insisting on his own rules for family and friends. Those under consideration include personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, campaign staff and several members of his family. Of course, accepting a pardon includes the assumption that there was a crime committed. From my point of view, perhaps the smartest move Trump might make is to offer Hunter Biden the same pre-criminal pardon he apparently is considering for his own kids.

Fast and loose money: It turns out that Trump will be leaving with tens of millions of dollars with few legal limits on how he can spend it. And, records now show that his family members managed to interfere with campaign funds to direct hundreds of millions into slush funds controlled by Trump. This brazen attempt to siphon reportable campaign money into accounts for which there is no accounting is questionable on lots of grounds, if not legal grounds. In any event, the reports extend the pattern of loose financial ethics marking the Trump presidency, which has been built on using official office and functions into personal money-making activities, from spending his time golfing at Trump resorts to re-routing foreign trips to the benefit of his own properties.

Expanding Mining: Despite the timing, on his way out the door Trump is moving to open up vast amounts of federal land to widespread mining and drilling, The New York Times reported. It is a move bound to create yet more consternation and problems for the incoming Biden administration, which for procedural reasons as well as political ones, is bound to challenge a number of the individual sites involved. Again, whose interests are being served here?

And in possibly the dumbest attack of the week: Trump supporters took up the challenge to knock the doctorate earned by Dr. Jill Biden, defending and outdoing a particularly sexist, silly and anti-intellectual column from a Wall Street Journal op-ed that asked her to drop the honorific unless she was going to treat coronavirus patients. Go stuff it, kiddo.

Meanwhile, at far ends of the news worlds, both The New York Times and Lou Dobbs ran apologies for getting things wrong – the Times over trusting a source on ISIS without proper investigation and, under legal threat, Dobbs (or his employer Fox News) for allowing unsubstantiated lying about conspiracy theories about election fraud.

On the other hand, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence reached the enormously important and contentious decision to label members of Space Force as "guardians," rather than airmen, sailors, soldiers or Marines. Wasn't that the name of the universe-traveling robot Gort in "The Day the Earth Stood Still"?

Klaatu barada nikto.

You think we will miss these weekends after Jan. 20?

It's too late to stop Donald Trump's tantrum -- but it's not too late to stop his policies right now

Any thoughts that Donald Trump is just trying to polish his perceived presidential legacy with his late-game administration moves is giving way to a darker idea. He is planting boulders in the path of Joe Biden and the incoming group, “salting the earth,” as one headline declared this week. 

Keep reading... Show less

The long grift: How Donald Trump's 'voter fraud' claims may not be about the 2020 election

It’s becoming apparent that if you don’t like Donald Trump’s vocal debasement of our election results, you probably aren’t going to enjoy his next four years.

Keep reading... Show less

'Dear Leader' Donald Trump has always preferred petulance to governing

We’re quickly seeing the effects of Donald Trump’s resistance to conceding his electoral loss in a petulant and stupid refusal to follow through on appropriate, expected and necessary cooperation on setting up the myriad aspects of the presidential transition.

Keep reading... Show less

Election Night's big winner was the American voter -- until Trump kicked over the table

Amid results that will require more days to finalize, it was the American voter last night who emerged as the big winner—indeed the only winner up until Donald Trump decided that he had won and tried to kick over the whole table.

Keep reading... Show less

Let's cut to the chase: If you don't vote for Donald Trump, he doesn't want you to vote

OK, Donald Trump is insisting that “The Election should END on November 3,” even willing to slap the Supreme Court justices around, including his own appointees, for allowing the count to continue for nine days in North Carolina.

Keep reading... Show less

'Sheer incompetence': What the 2020 Election is really about

At this point, we ought to be agreeing that the outcome of this election may change the occupant in the White House—no small thing. But it’s not going to immediately fix what’s ailing the country:

Keep reading... Show less

Trump's volunteer army is already engaging in widespread voter intimidation across the US -- and it's only going to get worse

In Miami, an armed city police officer in full uniform now faces disciplinary action after wearing a Trump campaign mask while directing voters at the polls.

Keep reading... Show less

Racism in the Pentagon: The Whitelock case is about much more than one unjustly fired DOD employee

The case of a dismissed civilian at the Pentagon captures the Trump administration’s campaign to eliminate top Black managers, Donald Trump’s obsession with any move by Barack Obama and the White House’s sneer at diversity in the federal workforce.

Keep reading... Show less

Clergy and conservatives call for allowing more refugees -- but Trump won't listen

The Trump administration just delivered another blow for legal immigrations along with another smack at allowing refugees into the United States. It's a story that easily can get lost in the flurry of news over Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection, his Supreme Court nomination and the general noise of the election’s final weeks.

Keep reading... Show less