Turning Off the Trump Show

It has been clear to all rational observers since the end of the first week in November that President Donald J. Trump had lost his bid for re-election.  During these weeks of interregnum – if he had acted in a classy manner, if he had hyped his Administration’s leadership in the development of Coronavirus vaccines instead of wallowing in his own perceived personal misfortunes, if he had pushed recalcitrant Republican members of Congress to boost payments to Americans in need – Mr. Trump could – even if just for his own self-interest, which is obviously all he cares about — have laid pretty credible – if unnerving — groundwork for a comeback.  He has instead roiled the nation in a petulant tantrum that wouldn’t be acceptable from a three-year-old, actively harmed our national security by obstructing the transition to the Biden Administration that all – including him – know is going to occur, ludicrously discounted the unanimous opinion of analysts (including his own Secretary of State) that the recent deep and widespread penetration of our governmental and private systems was perpetrated by Russia, abandoned his post as thousands more Americans succumbed to the pandemic, pardoned mass murderers and those that collaborated with Russians to get him elected in 2016, vetoed the National Defense Appropriations Act, which provides for military pay and funds many strategic defense initiatives, in a fit of pique over Congress’ plans to rename military installations now named for Confederate luminaries and its refusal to remove certain legal protections for internet companies, and most appallingly — perhaps the most “Let them eat cake” moment in American history – held up, while playing golf, in signing the torturously-negotiated Congressional COVID-relief bill, a pause which will reportedly cause a delay in payment of unemployment benefits to millions of Americans on the edge of starvation or eviction.  (Mr. Trump’s call for a sharp increase in benefits for Americans, after the bill had passed, is a transparent populist ploy to spite Republicans whom he considers to have deserted him by acknowledging Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory). 

As I commented once before in these pages, the final irony emerging from these days’ events is Mr. Trump’s evident willingness to do anything to stay in power when contrasted with his equally evident lack of interest in actually doing the job.

I would suggest that the manner in which Mr. Trump has behaved since his defeat indicates that despite any future feints, he has no intent to return in an elected capacity.  I will venture that when the smoke clears, his behavior throughout his term and after the election will reduce him to a niche — albeit impressive — political and media force, which may be all he truly ever wanted when he launched his seemingly quixotic 2016 campaign.  Given the devastatingly effective manner in which he has damaged our institutions and placed doubt in so many Americans’ minds regarding the integrity of our democratic processes, the suspicion that he is a Russian puppet will persist in the mind of anyone that has done any reading regarding the ways and means of Russian President Vladimir Putin (although, as also previously noted in these pages, Bob Woodward reported in his book, Rage, that Trump Administration Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats “… suspected the worst but found nothing that would show Trump was indeed in Putin’s pocket.”) 

I’m confident that President-Elect Biden and his aides already recognize that Mr. Trump will continue to be either a knowing or unwitting Russian corroder of American democracy in his post-presidency.  How to handle Mr. Trump will be one of the most difficult decisions for the incoming President and his team, requiring sensitivity akin to that which will be needed in dealing with the Coronavirus, managing relations with our foreign allies and adversaries, and coming to grips with our exploding debt and burgeoning social benefits obligations.  Any decision by the Biden Administration to prosecute Mr. Trump and his cohort in the name of the rule of law on what will undoubtedly be a myriad of valid grounds will keep Mr. Trump in the spotlight, provide his followers a rallying point, force mainstream Republicans to defend him, and earn him millions in a defense fund, all while offering little chance of a conviction; any decision by the Administration not to pursue him will signal an acquiescence to the disintegration of the rule of law, perhaps serve as an invitation to malefaction for Mr. Trump and others, and leave Mr. Biden open to divisive attack by inflamed and disenchanted progressives.  My current inclination is that the latter course will be marginally less destructive to our nation than the former, but it’s awfully close, and my own view might shift depending upon what might be uncovered after Mr. Trump leaves the White House. 

During the last five years, it cannot be gainsaid that President Trump struck a chord in the American psyche which will continue to reverberate after his term ends, and will need to be addressed if we are to go forth as a cohesive people.  These pages will undoubtedly cite him in the future as a touchstone when considering the evolution of our political environment.  That said, unless Mr. Trump executes machinations before Inauguration Day constituting a substantive threat to our Republic, I’m turning off the Trump Show for now.  In recent days, I’ve actually engaged in the luxury of reading on substantive policy issues – reading for which I found that I had little enthusiasm while the danger of a second Trump term, and what I feared it would mean for American democracy, loomed large.  In Rage, Mr. Woodward reports a comment made by Mr. Trump during their last conversation on July 21, 2020, that I was surprised to see neither Mr. Woodward nor any other reviewer remark upon, they perhaps deeming it innocuous … but to me resonating as the most ominous: 

“‘You don’t understand me,’ [Mr. Trump] said [to Mr. Woodward]. ‘You don’t understand me.  But that’s okay.  You’ll understand me after the election.  But you don’t understand me now.  I don’t think you get it.  And that’s okay.’”  [Emphasis Added]   

Stay safe.  Despite the perils ahead, the prospective departure of a President with fascist instincts and the arrival of Coronavirus vaccines truly offer reasons to be hopeful for a better 2021. 

Happy New Year.

Not in Our Stars

“The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

  • United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4

As indicated in these pages close to a year ago, as soon as I read the word, “Biden,” in the White House Memorandum of the call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which undisputedly showed an American President pressuring the leader of a vulnerable foreign ally to help him politically against another American, Mr. Trump’s despicable conduct – call it a “high Crime” if you prefer; I considered it Treason — was ample evidence that he was unworthy of the office he holds, and of the American people.  While he was impeached in the House of Representatives, the Republican sycophants in the Senate refused to remove him from office, more concerned about their own careers than about the good of our nation, Congressional responsibility, and our democratic processes.

“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.”

  • United States Constitution, Amendment XXV, Section 4

A number of trustworthy news outlets have recently reported that during the past week, President Trump inquired about the feasibility of a scheme, offered on a conservative media outlet by his convicted and now pardoned former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, that Mr. Trump impose martial law in the swing states won by President-Elect Joe Biden and have the military redo the presidential election in those states.  It has also been credibly reported that Mr. Trump has suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should seize voting machines in swing states in order to investigate baseless claims of election fraud thrown out across the country by judges of every judicial philosophy.  If the reporting is accurate, these and other far-fetched strategies have been, thus far, shut down by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who have been two of the President’s staunchest loyalists – hardly pillars that give one confidence that our Constitutional safeguards will hold.

We have no idea at this point whether Mr. Trump actually believes the lies regarding election fraud that he has so perniciously spread over the last six weeks.  His niece, Dr. Mary Trump, stated in her book, Too Much and Never Enough, “The people with access to [Mr. Trump] are weaker than Donald is, more craven, but just as desperate.  Their futures are directly dependent on his success and favor. … His pathologies have rendered him so simple-minded than it takes nothing more than repeating to him the things he says to and about himself … to get him to do whatever they want …” 

Most charitably, the President has come to believe his own fantasies, and is now dangerously unbalanced.  More malevolently, he knows his claims are lies and simply seeks to hold on to power at any cost.  (Although such intent would constitute treason, there is no longer time for Congressional impeachment and removal proceedings, even if such had any prospect of success.)  In either event, Mr. Trump is manifestly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  (For as steadfast a defender of the President, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, to stage as abrupt a reversal as he has in recent weeks – first indicating that there was insufficient evidence of fraud to affect the outcome of the presidential election, more recently declaring, despite the President’s protestations, that Russia was responsible for the recent deep and widespread hack of federal government systems and adding that there was no ground for the federal government to seize swing state voting machines or for a special prosecutor to investigate Hunter Biden or the election – makes one ponder whether Mr. Barr has noted something increasingly disquieting in Mr. Trump’s conduct since the election.)  Despite all of this, can we have any hope that Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Cabinet officers will have the courage to institute proceedings under Amendment XXV to protect our nation?  To ask the question is to answer it.

I am tired of Donald Trump.  I am tired of writing about Donald Trump.  (Something of which the President himself is only too well aware:  he shrinks without a spotlight.)  This should be the time focus on the myriad of daunting substantive domestic and foreign policy concerns that will confront us upon Mr. Biden’s inauguration.  That said, we may still be facing the most perilous 30 days that our nation has seen since the darkest days of World War II, or perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis – brought upon us not only by Mr. Trump’s deformed psyche and his enablers, but by the rank cowardice of so many Republican office holders that could – as a group, if not singly — have stood in the breach and defended our nation, but have not.

“Cassius: 

‘Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus; and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs, and peep about

To find ourselves dishonourable graves.

Men at some time are masters of their fates:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’”

  • William Shakespeare:  Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II

A Day of Deeply Conflicting Emotions

Yesterday, the Electoral College cast its votes for president.  Despite the apparently inevitable Trump Conspiracy histrionics that will continue until Congress counts the Electoral College votes on January 6, and the likelihood of partisan Republican obstructive tactics during that Congressional proceeding, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s election to the presidency will then and there be formally acknowledged. 

For those of us who feared America’s descent into fascism had President Trump been re-elected, the Electoral College’s official rendering provided a significant sense of relief; but my overall reaction to yesterday’s news was bittersweet. Even as the Electoral College results arrived and the trucks carrying vaccines rolled, we reached 300,000 American Coronavirus deaths — many of which seem indisputably a result of the President’s abject incompetence.  Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s manifestly undemocratic conduct of office throughout his entire term, my suspicion persists that his gross mishandling of our COVID response was the primary factor in his narrow loss of the combined 37 Electoral College votes of the pivotal states of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.  If such was indeed the case, let us pray that despite the fringe elements, we can move ahead as a nation – that the avoidable virus deaths we have suffered across our land, and those tragically to come, will not be entirely in vain.

The Resentment That Never Sleeps

Someone very close to us forwarded me a link to the attached enlightening and disquieting December 9, 2020, piece by New York Times Columnist Thomas B. Edsall.  Mr. Edsall cites authorities that assert that “‘social status is one of the most important motivators of human behavior,’” and he observes, “[I]n politics, status competition has … [prompted] a collection of emotions including envy, jealousy and resentment that have spurred ever more intractable conflicts between left and right, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.”   

Hopefully, all reviewing this note that wish to access Mr. Edsall’s column have the means to do so.  It is compelling, if not pleasant, reading. 

Our Next Greatest Danger

“The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

  • attributed, perhaps apocryphally, to Winston Churchill

Not long after we retired in 2015, a conservative friend added me to a conservative email chain; soon thereafter, I received an email circulated by the group sharply criticizing then-President Barack Obama for having “the lack of respect to not honor our fighting forces,” stating, “In the 69 years since D-Day, there are four occasions when the President of the United States chose not to visit the D-Day Monument that honors the soldiers killed during the Invasion,” listing four years in which President Obama had not traveled to Normandy:  2010 – 2013.

I was surprised by the email.  Even if not stated explicitly, it left the impression that President Obama had never traveled to Normandy to honor our D-Day fallen.  I seemed to recall that Mr. Obama had spoken at Normandy D-Day Commemorations during his time in office.  In an internet search taking literally less than 30 seconds, I found that during his presidency Mr. Obama had spoken on the Normandy shores not once, but twice, in 2009 and 2014.  I emailed our friend my search results, along with supporting links.  Our friend sent a very gracious thanks for my disproving the message’s totally inaccurate and disparaging impression of Mr. Obama.

Not long after, I was removed from the circle.  [It was almost certainly for the best  ;).]

As these pages have made pretty clear, my greatest fear for the American way of life prior to Election Day was the likelihood that President Trump’s obvious dictatorial – at times, seemingly fascist – tendencies would cause our descent into autocracy if he was re-elected.  Now that such risk is arguably behind us (although I will breathe most easily on this score once President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn into office), the once seemingly-unimaginable reactions of so many of our people to the unsubstantiated malevolent claims of election fraud spread during the last month by Mr. Trump and his enablers have brought home to me what I would suggest may be the next greatest danger confronting our American democratic experiment:

Not Mr. Trump’s increasingly unbalanced narcissism and pathological lying;

Not national Republicans’ continued gutless subservience to the President, a despicable dereliction of their Constitutional responsibilities undertaken solely to preserve their own political careers;  

Not the alt-right media’s promotion of ever-more-outrageous conspiracy theories to inflame their followers, broadcast purely to jack up their own profits;

Surprisingly, not even that segment of Americans who are affirmatively racist, misogynist, nativist, homophobic, or religiously biased – many of whom, alarmingly, apparently don’t care that Mr. Trump lost the election, and are merely intent on keeping him in power – only because I believe – hopefully not mistakenly — that this segment, whose sentiments pose a poisonous threat to our republic, is relatively small.

It is the indication that many millions of our people, who do believe in democracy, with accurate information readily obtainable through the slightest of effort, are either negligently or willfully choosing to give credence to manifest falsehoods.

Republican election officials in Arizona and Georgia that personally opposed Mr. Biden have declared that there was no fraud in their electoral processes and that, alas, Mr. Biden won their states.  Former Republican WI Gov. Scott Walker, perhaps as venomously partisan as any state official in this country, sent a tweet soon after Wisconsin’s votes were tabulated, in effect signaling that Wisconsin’s processes were clean and that, alas, a recount would not unseat Mr. Biden’s victory in the state. U.S. Attorney General William Barr, arguably Mr. Trump’s more important defender and enabler, has declared that, alas, the Department of Justice has uncovered no evidence of fraud that would overturn Mr. Biden’s victory.  So many identifiably or de facto Republican judges have thrown out the Trump Campaign’s specious attacks on various states’ electoral processes that I have lost count.

I always paid greater heed to Fox News’ Shepard Smith’s debunking of Mr. Trump’s lies than I did to that of CNN or MSNBC commentators specifically because Mr. Smith was at Fox News.  (Mr. Smith is now at CNBC.)

I’d wager a fair sum that any of Mr. Trump’s supporters visiting a car dealership this past weekend were appropriately skeptical of any salesman’s claim that a given car “was a great deal.”  Yet, despite a Rocky Mountain Range of indications that Mr. Trump’s blatantly self-serving claims about election fraud are entirely baseless, these supporters remain determined to believe him.  If enough of our people are unwilling for a long enough period to face facts that are, in a saying favored by my sainted mother, “as plain as the nose on your face,” our experiment in democracy will not survive.  Now that we have at least for the present escaped the overt danger of totalitarianism, let us hope that after Mr. Trump leaves office – and despite his inevitable efforts to the contrary — a significant percentage of those now giving any level of heed to his lies “awaken,” and reassume their civic responsibility to investigate and reflect upon the issues facing our nation with a level of reason and dispassion.

“This Constitution can only end in despotism…when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”

  • Benjamin Franklin, at the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention

On the Advantage to Mr. Biden of Mr. Trump’s Pardons

No one that has read these pages for any length of time can doubt the antipathy I have for President Trump and his hoard; I consider him to have taken us to the brink of authoritarianism, and despite current indications that his treasonous activities to undermine our democracy are losing steam, I frankly won’t breathe entirely easily until I see President-Elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., actually take the oath of office in January.  That said, despite the understandable outrage now felt by anyone with a shred of interest in justice about Mr. Trump’s recent pardon of former Trump Administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – and the prospect of a steady stream of pardons in the coming weeks of  Trump collaborators including his wife, his children, Trump Organization executives, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone (this time a full pardon), etc., etc., etc., probably ultimately culminating in an attempt by the President to pardon himself – I would suggest that if Mr. Trump makes promiscuous use of his pardon power, he may be unwittingly assisting Mr. Biden’s attempts to tone down our current hyper-partisan atmosphere.

Given our nation’s need to uphold the rule of law, the depth of hostility that perhaps the majority of Mr. Biden’s supporters feel about Mr. Trump, and the fact that Mr. Trump obviously has no intent to retire from the world stage when he leaves the White House, I don’t see how, unless Mr. Trump makes broad untoward use of his pardon power, the Biden Administration will have any choice but to thoroughly investigate the activities of and if appropriate pursue criminal convictions against various members of the Trump cohort including Mr. Trump himself.  At the same time, such activities, however justified, will carry the tinge of political persecution and require establishment Republicans to close ranks behind Mr. Trump when they are probably quietly thrilled at the prospect of seeing his outsize influence within their party gradually dissipate.  Mr. Biden has pledged to try to unify our nation, and as perhaps as unlikely as that might be in a hyper-partisan environment stoked not only by Mr. Trump but an alt-right media complex whose profits are driven by broadcasting ever-more-outlandish conspiracy theories, any prosecutions of Trump principals by the Biden Administration will undoubtedly merely serve to aggravate the divisions among our citizens and cripple Mr. Biden’s attempts to effect moderate change that the majority of Americans, if they can be made to look at policy through other than a rancorous partisan lens, might support.

So if advising Mr. Biden, I would actually counsel:  let’s hope Trump actually does a broad and thorough job of pardoning his entire band.  Let’s hope he actually tries to pardon himself.  He’s doing you a favor.  The more justification your Administration has for ignoring Trump – for not letting him hold center stage – the better for your presidency and the nation.  Let the natural survival instincts of establishment Republicans – some of whom harbor their own presidential ambitions, and want their party back – and Fox News – which undoubtedly realizes that the more it pumps Trump, the more it is assisting an undoubted media competitor — kick in:  they want Trump to fade.  After January 20, Trump will hold perhaps half of the 70 million people that voted for him for a while; and while 35 million people is far from nothing, it still only amounts to about 10% of the population – which is about the percentage of crazies we have always had with us.  As Mr. Trump ages, his ardent following – demonstrably having short and easily-distracted attention spans – may well become attracted to some other shiny bauble.

A President cannot pardon those who are convicted of state and local offenses.  It seems highly likely that the Attorney General of the State of New York will chase Mr. Trump.  Let the then-former president be distracted by challenges not attributable to the Biden Administration as the Administration seeks to address the myriad of daunting challenges facing our nation.  If nothing else, the recent election results demonstrate that the country is not as liberal as progressives proclaim, and that some of the growing demographic constituencies that Democrats have been projecting to sustain them in the future are not as monolithic as they had supposed.  The Democrats’ best hope to hold the White House in 2024 is for Mr. Trump’s continued machinations to ultimately divide the Republican Party between its establishment and its crazies.

The Limits of the Presidential Pardon Power

Inasmuch as the death throes of the Trump Administration will undoubtedly include the President’s granting a number of distasteful pardons – perhaps including an attempt to pardon himself – this seems an appropriate time to recall the Constitutional law instruction of our greatest fictional President, regarding the limits of his Article II pardon power. 

Have a wonderful and safe Holiday.  

Leaving an American Munich

As part of the Armistice that ended World War I in 1918, Germany agreed to sharply curtail its military establishment.  Over the years following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933, he undertook a military buildup in flagrant violation of Germany’s WWI agreements, correctly calculating that neither England nor France – each having the military might to easily stop Germany’s unauthorized buildup in its early stages — would have the will to do so.  And then … it was too late.

To historians the world over, the word, “Munich,” is synonymous with, “appeasement” – an agreement concluded in Munich in September, 1938, by Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France that provided for “cessation” of part of another sovereign nation, Czechoslovakia, to Germany.  It was an attempt by the U.K. and France to avoid a war with a now militarily-muscular Germany by appeasing Adolf Hitler.  While widely acclaimed at the time, Winston Churchill called it, “… a most grievous consequence of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years – five years of futile good intentions, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance, five years of uninterrupted retreat of British power ….”  Nazi Germany invaded Poland within a year, commencing World War II.

It is has been reported by multiple sources that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican Chair Laura Cox have written Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, urging the Board to delay Michigan’s certification of its presidential election results – scheduled for today — for 14 days, to allow a full audit and investigation of “numerical anomalies” and “procedural irregularities.”  A Republican state canvasser has reportedly indicated that he is considering supporting the delay. 

This is poppycock.  On Friday, after an extraordinarily inappropriate White House meeting instigated by President Trump, the Michigan Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker – both Republicans – stated straightforwardly that they knew of nothing that would change Michigan’s election outcome.

I am heartened by the Michigan legislators’ statement, and some media accounts reassuringly report that despite the national and state Republican parties’ antics, Michigan’s governing statute provides that the state election canvassers have little choice but to certify its election results, and if they don’t, certification will nonetheless quickly occur through either the authority of Democratic MI Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or order of a Michigan appellate court.  That said, I remain uneasy.  The Republican efforts are a blatant attempt to provide Mr. Trump time to build momentum.  I’m finally there:  the Trump Conspiracy is about more than undermining President-Elect Joe Biden’s legitimacy and sowing distrust in our electoral processes to enhance future media ratings among the Trump cult; it is to stage a coup.

[The irony lost on the Trump Cult amid all these thrashings:  Mr. Trump manifestly doesn’t even want the job.  While he had time to entertain the Michigan legislators Friday in his traitorous quest, on Saturday – with U.S. Coronavirus deaths at the highest levels since last summer – he chose to play golf rather than attend a G20 “Pandemic Preparedness” event.]

Something that it took me some time to realize in the miasma of Mr. Biden’s mounting vote totals and victories, Mr. Trump’s malevolent lies, mounting Coronavirus cases, and a blizzard of state dates:  the Trump Conspiracy is effectively over unless it can delay vote certification in either Michigan or Pennsylvania this week.  (Note:  the Conspiracy suffered a notable loss Saturday when a federal court dismissed its lawsuit to block Pennsylvania’s certification, but will presumably appeal to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and thereafter to the U.S. Supreme Court.)  When adding Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes to Mr. Biden (given its Friday certification of his victory) to the 232 Electoral College votes that will ultimately be allotted to him from the “2016 Clinton States” he won, Mr. Biden’s Electoral College vote total seemingly now stands at a de facto 248.  While neither Michigan’s nor Pennsylvania’s respective certifications will individually put Mr. Biden over the top, both states’ certifications will garner him 36 additional Electoral College votes, and mean that Mr. Trump has de facto lost.  The President’s only remaining recourses would then appear to be to seditiously attempt to overturn certifications — unlikely without evidence that the Conspiracy obviously lacks — persuade Republican-controlled legislatures in states won by Mr. Biden to overturn the expressed will of their electorates by sending their states’ Trump slates to the Electoral College – seemingly a politically suicidal step that no state politician will relish — or persuade a sufficient number of Biden electors to vote for him – an incredible reach, since if all states currently “called” for Mr. Biden so certify their vote totals, the President will need 38 Biden electors to be “faithless” — and even then, such “faithless” votes might well be overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although the preceding paragraph provides some comfort, I would submit that the time for temperate responses to the President’s machinations has passed.  If he can somehow delay certifications in Pennsylvania and/or Michigan – states Mr. Biden won by relatively wide margins – it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that with momentum, he may well be able to obtain certification delays in Arizona and Wisconsin, states Mr. Biden won more narrowly with Republican-controlled legislatures in which Mr. Trump is already challenging the voting processes.

While I have lauded Mr. Biden’s even response to Mr. Trump’s histrionics thus far, believing strongly that Mr. Trump wants a fight to rally his supporters, I fear that national Republicans’ approach of appeasement has enabled Mr. Trump to get up a head of steam.  They keep thinking that Mr. Trump will “come around,” will “do the right thing.”  He never will.  Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, called it in her book, Too Much and Never Enough:

“[Mr. Trump engages in] [w]orking the refs, lying, cheating … [He will] [c]laim that a failure is a tremendous victory, and the shameless grandiosity will retroactively make it so. … Donald takes any rebuke as a challenge and doubles down on the behavior that drew fire in the first place, as if the criticism is permission to do worse. … The deafening silence in response to [Mr. Trump’s] blatant display of sociopathic [behavior during his presidency] … fills me with despair and reminds me that Donald isn’t really the problem after all.”

For years after World War II, public policy and military scholars lamented that they had not paid more attention to Mein Kampf; in it, Adolf Hitler told the world exactly what he intended to do.  We have only recently gained the benefit of Dr. Trump’s insights into the president, but in this new, post-election phase of the Trump presidency, I fear that we ignore her warnings at our peril.  It’s time to use all legal means to stop him.  The time for reasoning with Mr. Trump and his supplicants has passed.  If there is any delay in Michigan’s certification process today, Gov. Whitmer, with the behind-the-scenes support of the Biden Transition Team, should move aggressively to promptly effect the certification through her power or in the Michigan courts.  Equally energetic efforts should be undertaken in Pennsylvania if such become necessary.  It is time to leave this American Munich.

Before it’s too late.

America’s Twilight Zone

The link below attaches to clips from a famous Twilight Zone episode that recently came to mind.  While the appeals for physical violence in one of the scenes, a remnant of an earlier time in American sensibilities, are to be condemned, the episode’s depiction of cowardly failure to confront iniquity has direct parallels today. 

Yesterday, President-Elect Biden called Mr. Trump’s recalcitrance in accepting his defeat and obstructing the transition to the next Administration “irresponsible” – exactly the term and tone I would have suggested if advising him.  Since I’m not advising him, I myself am free to characterize the recent activities of the President and his cohort – among them, Mr. Trump calling Republican Wayne County (Detroit), MI, election canvass board members and sufficiently exerting the pressure of his office on them to cause them to seek to rescind their votes certifying the County’s (heavily Democratic) election results; Mr. Trump being reported by multiple sources to have invited the Michigan state Republican Senate Majority Leader and the Michigan state House Speaker to Washington today, in an apparent effort to have the state’s legislature override Mr. Biden’s 150,000 vote victory in the state by sending Trump electors to the Electoral College; Trump clown lawyer Rudolf Giuliani’s grotesque, unsubstantiated, and patently ridiculous claims of a multi-state widespread conspiracy to steal the election from Mr. Trump – for what they are: treasonous. These activities by the President and his minions have nothing to do with vote count verification; they are efforts consciously undertaken to undo the expressed will of the American people and undermine our people’s faith in the very process that has sustained us throughout our history.  These activities alone warrant Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.

By making no meaningful effort to counter the coercive activities and the spread of scurrilous disinformation designed to undermine our electoral processes, leaders of a major American political party are cravenly betraying the millions of Americans who have died over almost 250 years to protect our Republic.  That said, the manner in which Republican officeholders have cowered in the face of Mr. Trump’s abhorrent behavior has, however unwittingly, brought into undeniable relief what has perhaps become the glaring weakness in our society:  virtually every one of our elected officials (I am willing to make an exception for U.S. UT Sen. Mitt Romney) now care almost entirely about maintaining their own standing and precious little about our people or our system of government.  Everybody knows that getting re-elected is a very high priority for a politician; but until observing Republicans’ silent acquiescence to – and in some instances, active enablement of — Mr. Trump’s destructive petulance, we – at least I – didn’t believe that we had reached the point that political survival was seemingly most national politicians’ only real priority.  This is a nonpartisan comment; I have no illusions that if a Democratic demagogue arises in the future, Democratic officeholders will respond any better than Republicans are today. 

Although Mr. Trump will not be immediately impeached and removed from office as he should be, and while it still appears that we are overwhelmingly likely to survive Mr. Trump and his cohort’s seditious schemes, we remain in a Twilight Zone of political ambition, poisonous partisanship and propaganda profiteers.  We as citizens should ponder what, if anything, we can do about it.