Monthly Archives: February 2021

Moscow Mitch Versus Loathsome Lindsey

What the Fresh Hell is Going on with the Republican Base?

I begin by citing three op-eds that purport to offer insights into what the hell the 74 million Trump voters were thinking—but whose diagnoses differ dramatically.

What that tells me: a big portion of the 74 million are Trump cultists, but a another large part are something else, and at this point nobody has a good handle on what the something else is.

The three articles are

Michael Gerson, Trump’s rot has reached the GOP’s roots

Megan McArdle, There is no Trumpism. There is only Trump.

Greg Abernathy, Trump may be done, but Trumpism is the GOP’s future.

In case you were wondering, Mr. Abernathy, who appears to be living in a parallel universe, informs us as follows:

What is Trumpism without Trump? It’s an emphasis on individual freedoms, a belief in energy independence through deregulation, an “America First” approach to foreign policy, a dedication to secure borders, a pushback against cancel-culture “wokeness” (in a surprising alliance with France) and the kind of unapologetic embrace of “God and Country” values that are guaranteed to fuel culture wars for years to come.

Whew! What a relief! Trumpism has nothing at all to do with White identity or White Christian nationalism, let alone misogyny. Abernathy really needs to convey these good tidings of great joy to his fellow WaPo pundit Michael Gerson.

Moscow Mitch Versus Loathsome Lindsey: Comparison and Contrast

Meanwhile, the talking heads talk this morning about the tiff between McConnell and Graham. I will summarize.

One: A Shared Burning Desire. Both Moscow and Loathsome share one burning desire: to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

In other words, to restore the status quo to what it was before He Who Must Not Be Named appeared on the scene. To roll the reel back to those golden days of yesteryear when the country club crowd dog whistled just enough to keep the rednecks riled up and voting Republican, so that the country club crowd could pursue its economic objectives.

Two: Different Assessments, Different Tactics. The differences between Moscow and Loathsome lie not in their objective (see point One), but rather in their perception of the situation. And, differing in their assessment of the situation, they also differ in their prescription for Republican bliss.

Loathsome thinks that, if the God Emperor will just dial it down a couple of notches, and if the country club crowd will just toady enough to the God Emperor, then things may be restored to their former happy state of affairs (see point One, once again).

Moscow thinks that Republican politicians will never again be able to suck at the teat of corporate America unless they repudiate Trump. Therefore, Republican politicians must repudiate Trump.

That would be because sucking at the teat of corporate America is sort of the whole point of the exercise of being a Republican politician. 

Three: Alternative Hail Mary Passes, Both Born of Desperation. Neither the Loathsome Lindsey approach nor the Moscow Mitch plan is likely to work.

Both are Hail Mary passes.

Both are born of desperation.

But the Loathsome Lindsey plan is just about 100 percent likely to fail. Whereas the Moscow Mitch plan is only 90 percent or so likely to go down in flames.

Advantage, therefore, to Moscow Mitch over Loathsome Lindsey.

 

 

The God Emperor Versus Moscow Mitch

February 16, 2021 –

Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the

United States of America

The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political “leaders” like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.

In 2020, I received the most votes of any sitting President in history, almost 75,000,000. Every incumbent House Republican won for the first time in decades, and we flipped 15 seats, almost costing Nancy Pelosi her job. Republicans won majorities in at least 59 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers, and the Democrats failed to flip a single legislative chamber from red to blue. And in “Mitch’s Senate,” over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work? It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was. McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements. Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race.

It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.

My only regret is that McConnell “begged” for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly. Now, his numbers are lower than ever before, he is destroying the Republican side of the Senate, and in so doing, seriously hurting our Country.

Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.

Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.

Prior to the pandemic, we produced the greatest economy and jobs numbers in the history of our Country, and likewise, our economic recovery after Covid was the best in the world. We cut taxes and regulations, rebuilt our military, took care of our Vets, became energy independent, built the wall and stopped the massive inflow of illegals into our Country, and so much more. And now, illegals are pouring in, pipelines are being stopped, taxes will be going up, and we will no longer be energy independent.

This is a big moment for our country, and we cannot let it pass by using third rate “leaders” to dictate our future!

Music to My Ears

WaPo, Trump’s acquittal further polarizes factions within the GOP:

One day after the Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, Republicans continued to diverge in what the future of their party should be, with a chasm widening between those who want nothing to do with the former president and those who openly embrace him. The division is playing out as Trump promises a return to politics and as both factions within the GOP vow they will prevail in the 2022 midterm elections.

The Least Hypocritical Man in the Entire United States

He Wants One Big Thing

This afternoon, the talking heads talk of Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy. They are dead wrong. Mitch McConnell is our country’s least hypocritical person. His interview with Politico yesterday evening let the cat out of the bag:

“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” McConnell said by telephone. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”

He Cares About One Big Thing

Dumb as a rock but electable? Fine with Mitch.

Crooked as a snake but electable? Fine with Mitch.

Crazy as a loon but electable? Fine with Mitch.

There is only one thing he cares about. He told us what it is. He is many things. But a hypocrite, he is not. He revels in his unscrupulousness. 

 

He Knows One Big Thing

Thinkers have famously been divided between foxes and hedgehogs: the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Mitch is a hedgehog, and here is the One Big Thing he thinks he knows. He thinks he knows that he can get most of the 74,216,154 people who voted for Trump in 2020 to come out and vote for Republican congressional candidates in 2022. But those 74 million folks are divided into two categories: those who believe the Big Lie about the “stolen” election, and those who understand that the Big Lie is in fact a big lie. And so, if the pro-Big Lie folks and the anti-Big Lie folks are still at one another’s throats in 2022, then old Moscow Mitch can just bend over and kiss it goodbye.

Item: Georgia, where Rev. Senator Warnock will be up for reelection, and where the Big Lie just fell flat on its face in the January runoff.

Item: Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where current Republican Senate seats will be vacant.

Item: South Dakota, where the God Emperor may be out for the blood of Republican Senator John Thune, who will be running for reelection if he survives the Republican primary.

Item: Wisconsin, where idiot Republican Ron Johnson will be running again in a state that went for Biden.

Item: Arizona, a closely divided state where Mark Kelly will be running again. And, last but far from least,

Item: Ohio, where the current Republican Senate seat will be up for grabs, in a state the tends Republican but where the Big Lie believers may well be in the minority.

His Hail Mary Pass is the One Big Thing in his Bag of Tricks

Mitch was just fine and dandy with pre-Big Lie Trump? 74,216,154 Republican voters. What’s not to like? But if those voters remain split, and if the split grows, then the Republican coalition will be well and truly broken. And so, our friend Moscow Mitch is not being hypocritical. Not in the least. What Moscow Mitch is telling the God Emperor and his most fervent political supporters is, “WOULD YOU ALL JUST PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

What Was the Point of the Impeachment Trial?

Last night, the House prosecutors decided to try to call at least one witness, or maybe a bunch of witnesses. This morning, they got the Senate to vote in their favor. Then they backed off. This was not an elegant serious of maneuvers. That said, this is the sort of thing that happens in the heat of a trial.

I don’t want to second guess their tactics, but I do think it’s worth commenting on the big picture. Let’s begin with …

A Little Thought Experiment

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that Trump had given exactly the same speech he did give on January 6. And further suppose, counterfactually, that the crowd had all marched to the vicinity of the Capitol, yelling, scream, and waving flags, but that no one broke into the Capitol or otherwise violated the law. Could have happened, you know. Not beyond the realm of possibility.

Now, in that circumstance, would anyone be claiming that Trump’s speech incited a riot?  Would anyone be trying to parse the finer points of Brandenburg v. Ohio? Would anyone be engaged in legalistic, metaphysical debate about the outer limits of the First Amendment?

No, ladies and germs, the answer to all these questions is no, that would not be happening.

Back to the Real World

But there was a riot. And, while we have a general idea of what Trump was doing at the time of the riot, and what he did, or rather didn’t do, to stop the riot, we most assuredly do not have all the damning details.

Rep. Herrera Beutler’s statement gives us some compelling hearsay testimony, but the thing is by no means nailed down.

My Bottom Line

While I don’t want to quibble with the prosecution’s tactics, I do, on reflection, want to fault them for holding a trial without nailing down the key unresolved point: what was Trump saying and doing while the riot was going on, and who was responsible for finally getting the troops to the Capitol to put an end to the insurrection?

Further to the point, let me quote what Jonathan Chait wrote at 10:30 this morning:

There has always been one small hole in the prosecution’s case for Donald Trump’s second impeachment. Trump encouraged a public demonstration, promised in advance it would be “wild,” instructed his supporters that extraordinary measures were needed to save the republic from his “landslide” election being stolen, and repeatedly urged them to take off the gloves and fight dirtier. But there’s been no evidence that Trump knew beforehand that his supporters would actually break into the Capitol building.

Last night CNN added a key new piece of evidence: In an angry phone call with then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection, Trump refused to call off his supporters, and praised them for their commitment to his cause.

According to CNN, and confirmed by Republican representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a witness to the call, McCarthy pleaded with the president to make a public statement to end the riot. Trump at first told McCarthy the rioters were “antifa.” (This is in keeping with his habit of privately repeating lines to his supporters that both know are lies, like the way he instructed Michael Cohen to testify “there’s no business with Russia” when both were perfectly aware there had been.) When McCarthy insisted on correcting him, Trump switched to a new line: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

This is extraordinarily incriminating. Not only was Trump taking sides with the rioters after they had violently sacked the Capitol, he was leveraging the violent threat they posed to pressure McCarthy to work more energetically to defend him.

Indeed, Trump continued his attempts to pressure Republicans to support his attempt to overturn the election results after this call with McCarthy. One of those attempts is known, because he mistakenly called Senator Mike Lee when he meant to reach Senator Tommy Tuberville. Rather than stop the attack, Herrera Beutler writes, “[Trump] and his lawyer were busy making calls to senators who were still in lockdown, seeking their support to further delay the Electoral College certification.”

Yesterday, Michael van der Veen, Trump’s impeachment lawyer, claimed that “at no point” was Trump aware that Mike Pence was in physical danger on January 6. A source close to Pence tells CNN that is false.

Trump created the conditions for his most deranged supporters to commit violence. It was not inevitable that his incendiary rhetoric would lead them to a physical invasion, nor was it inevitable that the invasion would overwhelm the Capitol’s defenses, though he bears responsibility for elevating the risks.

But his behavior afterward is what truly damns him. When the demonstration took a violent turn and the violence overwhelmed law enforcement, Trump had a choice. He could have seen it as a tragic turn of events. Or he could have seen it as a lucky break. He saw it as a lucky break, and set out to use the violent threat as the final effort to overturn the results and install himself in office for a second, unelected term.

The Plutocracy Seizes the Moment

As Someone Famous Once Said, They Didn’t Leave Their Party, Their Party Left Them

From Politico this morning: The Chamber embraces Biden. And Republicans are livid. The influential trade organization says it’s taking the same approach to the new administration as it did with Trump:

Washington’s most powerful trade group is having a political identity crisis.

Over the past month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has taken a series of steps that have enraged its traditional Republican allies. It applauded much of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan to Covid relief bill; cheered Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement; backed the former leader of the liberal Center of American Progress, Neera Tanden, for Office of Management and Budget director; and expressed openness to raising the minimum wage, though not to $15 an hour.

A Dime Store Mussolini or an American Victor Orban?

All Things Considered, it may be a Good Thing if Trump Keeps Control of the Republican Party

If There’s Going to be a Big American Fascist Movement—and there is—Better that it be Led by a Clown than by a Competent Authoritarian

As Chris Traux writes,

We are currently in the grip of an American Counter-Enlightenment. The people who support Trump and his attacks on American institutions like to mouth the word “Constitution” but they fundamentally reject the philosophical principles which animate it. In one poll shortly after the sacking of the Capitol, 45 percent of Republicans said they supported the attack. You are not pro-democracy if you want to overthrow our system of elections. You can’t claim to value reason while championing lies and conspiracy theories.

These people are dangerous and if Donald Trump is cast out from American politics, they will find another leader, possibly someone less cartoonish, more intelligent, and in possession of more self-control.

If anything, that could be a worse outcome. Better to be matched against a dime-store Mussolini than an American version of Victor Orban.