(January 4 – The Georgia Telephone Call)
No sooner had I posted the first installment of this series of columns when events overran its contents. Yesterday the Washington Post released the audio recording of a sixty-plus minute telephone conversation Donald Trump had the day before with the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger. Raffensperger, a Republican, and Trump have been at odds for weeks. Trump insisting that he won the vote in Georgia but was the victim of massive vote fraud and Raffensperger, noting that he supported and voted for Trump, certifying that Biden was the victor by a margin of 11,779 votes.
Please, listen to the audio and read the transcript and make up your own mind.
When I heard it, my thoughts immediately turned to the first time I heard Richard Nixon’s voice on a recording discussing the Watergate break-in. He was considering having the CIA block the FBI from investigating the connection between the burglars of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Nixon reelection committee.
Two months since the election and only today do I write about the outcome. That is because, unbelievably, the outcome is still not 100% certain. I had prepared the graphic within days of November 3, 2020. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two leaders-elect. And an empty room representing the loser, Donald Trump, who refused to concede and sulked off into retreat. The two leaders are the unquestionable victors receiving 81 million votes. The most of any presidential ticket in history. And 306 electoral college votes, the same number as Trump received in 2016.
In all this time, Trump has refused to admit defeat. Trump and his acolytes continue to maintain a fantasy that he really won, and won it “bigly.” They have fought the battle to validate their alternate reality by whatever means available. Trump got 74 million votes, they argue. More than he got in 2016. How could he have lost? Easy. Biden got 7 million votes more. And flipped five states Trump won in his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.
The Daily Mail produced the wonderful graphic above to go with a story published October 3, 2020. The photo was taken on September 26 and shows the crowd gathered in the White House Rose Garden as Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the seat which became vacant upon the death on September 18 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In its October 3 story the Mail reported that nine of the people who attended this event had, at that point, tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. As the picture demonstrates, few of the 100 or so people who attended wore face masks, and all were sitting close together. On October 9, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, labeled this as a “Superspreader event.”
An October 5 poll report said more than 9 out of 10 Americans wear a face mask when they leave home. But that clearly does not include Donald Trump, our Covid denying superspreader-in-chief. Nor apparently does it include Amy Coney Barrett, whose nomination was rammed through the Senate on a strict partisan vote and who took her seat on October 27. America’s newest associate justice wants to be sure you can attend superspreader events too.
There is perhaps nothing more shocking than the lies Donald Trump and his surrogates on the campaign trail tell about the administration’s disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus has crippled the nation and killed at this writing 230,000 Americans. For the latest in the death toll, check the site of Johns Hopkins University Medicine.
The Covid Disinformation Campaign
On March 26, 2020, Trump said, “Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.” But the record shows he was warned repeatedly, first about the generic pandemic threat and then about this specific threat itself. You can watch his string of denials as they happened for yourself.
Trump was handed a pandemic game plan by the Obama national security team titled, “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.” The Obamas even staged a crisis management exercise as part of the transition. Trump ignored the drill and the plan. Trump disbanded the national security team in place to handle just this kind of crisis. Trump withdrew American epidemiologists already on the ground in China who could have provided early intelligence on the spread of the virus. Trump ignored a 2017 Pentagon report on the impact a pandemic could have on American military readiness.
How do you feel?
Frightened? Anxious? Confused? All of the above? Join the club.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Before we get to the travesty that is the Republican’s 30 day sprint to ram a right-wing ideologue judge down our throats, let us take a minute to take note of the last occupant of the seat she is filling.
I can’t get over the picture above. At least 1000 people, maybe more, gathered in front of the Supreme Court building in the evening of September 18th to mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They were peaceful, quiet, many cried, some carried candles, all in their own way feeling a great sense of loss. They continued to come through the weekend, bringing flowers, newspaper front pages and pictures of Ginsburg.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, about as arcane a group as one might imagine, is going back to the drawing board to add “additional structure” to the debate format “to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” Yeah, sure. As if lack of “structure” was the problem.
The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was a painful, disgusting, cringe-worthy debacle which made me embarrassed to be an American.
Back from Space
SpaceX’s Dragon Demo-2 flight has ended with the successful return to earth of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley after spending more than two months on the International Space Station. As I wrote at the time of their launch, this flight marks the return to America of the ability to send humans into space.
After the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2000, Americans who wanted to go the the ISS had to buy a seat on a Russian rocket. NASA began, during the Obama-Biden administration, what is called the “Commercial Crew” program effectively outsourcing this task to private industry. SpaceX is the first to successfully demonstrate this capability. This flight was named “Demo-2.” The first regularly contracted flight of the Crew Dragon is set to take four astronauts, three Americans and one Japanese, to the space station later this year.
As they left the capsule Behnken and Hurley thanks the SpaceX team. The SpaceX communicator said, “Thanks for riding SpaceX.” For America’s space program, a new day has begun.