Put A Lid On It

Well. Happy new year.

It’s going to be a whiz-banger of a week. For starters, on Jan.4, we will see the first anticipated album release of the year, as Steve Earle and the Dukes will drop “J.T.” as a digital release. This is sure to be a touching album as it features songs from Earle’s son Justin Townes Earle, who died this year of an overdose. It is released on this date to coincide with what would have been the younger Earle’s 39th birthday. Proceeds from the album’s purchase will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. There’s my first plug.

Then on Jan. 5, there’s this thing going on in Georgia. Something about affecting the entire makeup of the U.S. Senate and breaking the cruel, illogical stranglehold that the Republican “Moscow” Mitch McConnell has on any type of reasonable, progressive legislation has of even being considered for passage. I found a few bucks to send to Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. If you can too, go for it. ActBlue makes it easy. There’s my second plug. There will be a third plug below, and I will thank you for engaging with that one as well.

Then on Jan. 6, a joint session of Congress will be held to certify the results of the 2020 preznential eleckshun. This is often a routine affair, although we should be reminded that House Democrats, mostly from the Congressional Black Caucus, persistently challenged the election result in 2000 and again in 2016, with no assistance from a single Senator. However, I am not equivocating those efforts with the certain-to-be ridiculous challenges that Republicans are promising. The Supreme Court handed W that election, and all evidence says if the recount had continued, it woulda been President Gore. And I probably don’t need to tell you how 2016’s election was weird as a pine-tarred bat.

But 2020’s election was as straightforward and honest as Mary Richards. Number of electoral votes that margin Joe Biden’s victory: 74. Number of votes between the candidates: More than seven million. Percentage-wise, that’s 4.4 percent. Lawsuits tossed out on their asses: 59/60. Christopher Krebs, former director of the cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency, says “The November third election was the most secure in American history.” Even former Attorney General of the United States, rat-fink Bill Barr could not justify attempts to overturn this election result. Even he had to concede that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected [sic] a different outcome in the election.”

And yet, here we are.

Out of 435 House members, 140 are now on record as intending to challenge the 2020 election results. Unlike when Democrats previously challenged election results, there is now at least one Republican Senator, Josh Hawley, who is on the record that he will sign a challenge.

This is an obscenity. To review the Trump presidency with any objectivity is to conclude that this was an incompetent, embarrassing, horrible awful president who did not do his job and lost the election because he did not do his job. He refused to put any of the powers of the federal government to work to battle this insidious virus. He bullshat insane ideas about conquering the virus off the top of his head in official White House briefings to the public. From this era’s incipience, he maintained that he would not bring those suffering cruise-goers to shore because it would be bad for the numbers. He said this in public and in front of a television camera. Preznit Carnage One-Term Loser could not even protect himself nor his own family from contracting this, nor dozens to hundreds of his own loyal supporters. He didn’t do his job. He does not deserve another term. We fired him. He needs to be sent out with a box full of his stuff.

What confounds me most daily is how easy it would have been for him to legitimately retain his office for another term. He wouldn’t have even had to enact any public policy, nor would he had to have been the effective deal-maker he claimed to be. Nothing fancy or complicated. No, Preznit Carnage One-Term Loser could have retained his office for another term just by leaning on any scintilla of decency he might have possessed. He could have worn a mask. He could have not mocked mask-wearers and not turned it into a political issue. He could have not held Covid-19 briefings with a packed dais of non-mask wearers. He could have not held a Convention at the White House where attendees were sitting in each others’ laps. He could have not held dozens of political rallies where people were standing in one anothers’ pockets.

This moron could have retained his office not by any machinations of the federal government nor sound and just public policy. He could have stayed just by being a decent person. He couldn’t. Because he isn’t. And the simple fact is that to be a Republican today, you have to think otherwise of him, and that’s insane. These Congress-critters are going to make Jan. 6 an unnecessarily tragic day in these Untied States of America. I will be wearing black that day. We should all.

My third plug: One of my best friends in the known universe is in the hospital with Covid-19. Please keep Clifford Bailey in your thoughts and prayers, if you think and/or pray or that kind of thing. Thank you, and mazel tov.

What About Stacey Abrams’ Concession Speech?

Watching Meet the Press usually manages to piss me off. But I do it anyway. Every Sunday morning, I reel up my DVR to watch Chuck Todd and his weird Caesar haircut to continue to advocate tirelessly for false equivocation. As thus it went today, as Todd was interviewing Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee.

To be fair, Todd pressed Alexander pretty good regarding Preznit Carnage One-Term Loser’s recalcitrance to acknowledge the true result of the 2020 preznential election. Alexander’s position was that we’ll know for sure what the result was on Monday when the electors vote, and golly, I sure hope Preznit Carnage One-Term Loser “puts the country first” (he won’t), “takes pride in his considerable accomplishments” (whut?), and “congratulates the President-Elect and helps him get off to a good start” (fat chance).

It only took three minutes for Alexander to submit to a “what-about.”

Todd: All right, I don’t remember these same comments four years ago. On Hillary Clinton should get more time and all of this stuff. I mean do you see why it looks like a double standard?

Alexander: WELL WHAT ABOUT STACEY ABRAMS’ CONCESSION SPEECH? HAVE YOU FOUND IT YET?

Todd did some huminah huminah and said that he’s “not here to talk about Stacey Abrams.”

Well, let’s. Since Todd was unprepared with the facts, let’s clear the air on what Stacey Abrams did or did not do.

Abrams did not concede, and in fact has continued to question the legitimacy of the 2018 election process in Georgia. I don’t know where she might have gotten that wacky idea, considering that her opponent was Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. You know. The fella what runs the elections and voter registration.

On Nov. 18, Abrams spoke publicly, and she said: “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

“But to watch an elected official—who claims to represent the people of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote—has been truly appalling. So, to be clear, this is not a speech of concession.

“Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”

Alexander is technically correct; Abrams did not concede. But the dude is splitting hairs. She did acknowledge the official result.

We will never get as much from the current Preznit.

This

“What we’ve done is we have managed to as a country consign reason to the sidelines. We don’t think anymore; we feel, and that’s a large part of the pandemic tragedy. ‘I don’t feel like wearing a mask,’ ‘I don’t feel like listening to a doctor,’ ‘I don’t feel like listening to experts.’ Well, we don’t really care. I mean, the purpose of the Enlightenment was that your thoughts and data and fact would at least have a chance against feelings, and emotions, and passions, and appetites, and ambitions. We’ve done pretty well for a long time with that, not great. What’s basically happened, I think, broadly, is that—a 1964 historian named Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” and it’s this recurrent suspicion that there is a larger conspiracy out there of unseen forces. Because people have a fundamental human need to believe that there are these secret forces that are arrayed against them. And every moment is Armageddon. Every moment is existential. And so therefore, compromise is not possible. And what’s happened is the paranoid style, which was the John Birchers in ’64 has widened to a huge swath of the country. And the big task for all of us, and I think it’s a task of citizenship, and talking to your neighbors, and just actually trying to say, look, there is such a thing as fact.”

—Historian Jon Meacham, on Real Time with Bill Maher, Nov. 20, 2020

Who Will Be the Next American Fascist President?

The Stephanie Miller Show theme song is tuned to the current or soon-to-be-current occupant of the Oval Office and has since 2018 been “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Following the Nov. 7 declaration of Preznit-Elect Joe Biden, her tune returned to one they’d used previously, the manic “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. For me as a lifelong Democratic voter, longtime Miller listener, and current pandemic shut-in, it was heartening to observe the show changing its tune.

I think many of us are feeling that way, a bit more plucky these days, a bit more hopeful. Trump lost. Biden won. Goofus and Gallant finally got to have their knock-down drag-out, and Gallant is standing over Goofus like Ali over Sonny Liston in his clean white trunks, his arm cocked, his face meanly daring Goofus to get up. Victory feels good.

And, to some extent, we should. The Biden administration may just be able to right some things. Just as Preznit Carnage One-Term was able to unilaterally pull these Untied States out of the Paris Accords, Biden will be able to unilaterally re-enter. Same with the World Health Organization, and hopefully a slew of other foolish executive calls that have been made these four years. Biden can also—and already has been—leading brilliantly from the Bully Pulpit, masking up and holding campaign events responsibly, and he’s made sure he’s been seen in conversation with the keenest of America’s scientific brains. And I haven’t even begun to ponder what a Biden administration might be able to accomplish when more Republicans snap their denial of the Biden win, or even, dare I type it, if both runoff elections in Georgia are won by Democrats.

But is it too soon to walk on sunshine?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Trump will be successful in his sometimes hilarious attempts to sway the election results. I cannot anymore look at Rudolf Giuliani without A) seeing him in my mind’s eye flopped out on the bed in the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm fumbling around in his pants, or, as the kids call it these days, “tucking in his shirt,” or B) hearing the Benny Hill song in my head. 25 lawsuits; they’ve lost 25 lawsuits, and some of the arguments they came armed with wouldn’t convince a toddler’s mama to make with an extra cookie. No, Joe Biden will assume the office in January 2021, and I think this current inconvenience will resolve like a Picardy third within a week.

But like the Joker says to Eckhardt, man, think about the future.

Preznit Carnage de Bologna has been pretty ham-handed in his adventures. But he’s presented a buttload of raw material for the next fascist Preznit. And that person—and I’m not saying it will be Nikki Haley or nothin’, but yeah, I think it will be Nikki Haley—now has lots of time to war-game Trump’s most outrageous strategies, if one can call them that. How to gaslight without screaming like a harpy. How to call the media the “enemy of the people” without using those exact words, or to brand information that reflects badly on you as “fake news” without actually saying “fake news” because Ivanka has trademarked that phrase in Chinese already so you can’t have it.

Mitch McConnell was already in the process of breaking the U.S. government. And he thought he was clever and all, doing it with a tire iron jammed in the gears. Then along came Trump with a blowtorch. And his ingenuity for destruction, his fine ability for creating the carnage he warned of in his inaugural, which even George W. Bush reportedly said was “weird shit,” is but grist for the next, and more successful, fascist Preznit of These Untied States.

The band Consolidated had it half-correct when they sang of “Friendly Fascism.” I’ma enjoy Biden’s Inauguration like a peach pie.

But I’m still worried.

A Good Day

I am enjoying my favorite salad, an olive salad with juniper dressing, and I am listening to this weird bootleg-sounding CD I picked up some time ago of Duke Ellington circa 1971. I don’t expect the best sound quality when enjoying music of this era, but this bad recording is missing the charm of earlier Ellington bad recordings and just sounds like some wisenheimer snuck in with a tape recorder they borrowed from the high school AV closet, so I turned the volume down a little, but it is a nice break nonetheless as sometimes the MSNBC, after I’ve consumed it in large quantities, scratches my brain bumps in bad ways. And today has been a large MSNBC day here at the Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology, my friends.

As you may know, Rachel Maddow is in COVID lockdown presently but was able to provide some of her cogent color from her bunker, and she enunciated a thing I’ve been thinking all day, how before today, Impeached Preznit Carnage One-Termer’s threats to not concede, to sue, to stamp his widdle feet and cry, to not concede, to not recognize the legitimate results, how that threat prior to today felt like a dark and cold approaching storm. However, she said, today, these efforts seem merely “laughable,” and yes, that is the word she used. And, she’s right.

I had expected a Biden victory to emasculate Trump. I hadn’t expected it to have happened so quickly. Earlier today, Twitter covered up four of his tweets consecutively, due to them being full of bullshit. He snuck away to go golfing, and America went and called the race in his absence. By the way, whose job was it to try to convince him that going golfing on today of all days is the most horrible of ideas, and does that person still have a tongue in their head? How about the person who had to deliver the news while this dipshit was on the links?

And I know I’ve been somewhat of a Pollyanna regarding Biden—funny, Joe Scarborough used the same word this morning by way of self-description—but the micro-era I’m driven to in my thoughts is when we were all wringing our hands about the running mate. There were reports Susan Rice was in the mix, and Karen Bass, and Val Demings, but whether you remember the short-list names, you certainly remember the waiting. We’ll announce on Aug. 1. That became next week in August, and on Aug. 11, it became we’ll tell ya real soon, so there was even more waiting that day, which is when he announced. But to me, the waiting, the seemingly stretched process by which he decided, I think it offers assurance. The VEEP pick is the nominee’s first preznentshul decision. Joe Biden did it right. And I think he did it right ever since. And today, these Untied States of America are enjoying the fruits in a one-term Trump.

That there was any question is a wonder. A re-elected Trump would have been a re-elected impeached president. He would have been a re-elected president with 120,000 COVID deaths on his head, with 550 needlessly orphaned children on his head, a re-elected president who did not bother to press the issue of the murder of American resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a re-elected president who used the military to clear peaceful protesters from the premiere protest park in Washington, D.C. just so he could hold up a Bibble and take a picture, a re-elected president who dared to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Fucking Limbaugh.

Biden is already getting to work. Axios reports that he will soon announce a COVID Task Force. There is already talk about his Cabinet. The projected president-elect and vice-president will speak tonight and claim victory. And Americans are dancing in the streets.

It was, indeed, a good day.

Perfection

Joe Biden did this weird thing today where he made a brief speech and said exactly what was needed to be said. Here is a link to the transcript of his speech today. And here is what I consider to be the nut graf:

We the people will not be silenced. We the people will not be bullied. We the people will not surrender. My friends, I’m confident we’ll emerge victorious. But this will not be my victory alone or our victory alone. It’ll be a victory for the American people, for our democracy, for America. And there will be no blue states and red states when we win, just the United States of America.

He spoke 796 words today. 796 words. And with the words he chose, he offered comfort, and sanity, and leadership. His speech was not about minute-to-minute politics. It was not about winning or losing. It was about comforting a reasonably jagged-feeling America. It was a fireside chat. And it helped.

This is why Joe Biden is the perfect candidate for our times. It’s why he’s the best choice to be president right now. Since his nomination, I have been unable to shake the feeling that the Democratic Party accidentally somehow stumbled into perfection like a guy in a tux who trips in the mud. Without an apocalyptic challenge in front and, let’s face it, all around us, he’d just be Joe Biden, older Joe Biden, who doesn’t cope as easily for his stutter anymore, who seems to yell more than he needs to, who says “look” and “folks” a lot.

But what we’ve been lacking has been a president who rises to the occasion. Impeached Preznit Carnage Weird-Lean Pear-Shaped Hickey is a president who has been offered the greatest opportunity to do that thing a president does when challenged, to grab the bullhorn on top of the smoldering pile of rubble, to yell at the German man to tear down the wall, to say the thing about asking not what your country can do for you, to break out and sing “Amazing Grace.” No president has been more challenged to rise to the occasion, and, weirdly, Impeached Preznit has willfully crossed his arms, pouted, and refused to do so every stinking time.

Joe Biden isn’t even the president yet, and he rises to the occasion every time he’s seen in public.

We’ve had a hard campaigns before. We’ve faced hard times before. So once the selection is finalized and behind us, it’ll be time for us to do what we’ve always done as Americans, to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to one another, to hear each other again, and respect and care for one another, to unite, to heal, to come together as a nation.

This is a study in contrasts to how the current occupant of the Oval approaches it:

This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity — for the good of this nation, this is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.

This is a country in sore need of a chief executive capable of rising to the occasion, capable of registering empathy, capable of embarking on a sensible path forward, capable of leading with integrity and by solid example. Joe Biden does nothing but prove himself to be this.

Somehow, the Democratic Party chose the best person for the job, I think nearly by accident. Joe Biden is no mere second banana any longer. He’s not just good.

He’s perfect.

We’ll know more later today. But keep honking your horns, America. We’ve got this.

I ain’t gonna work for Trump’s farm no more

I want some music or some list or some fucking squirrel-ghost to land on my shoulder and to tell me that everything is going to be all right. I want Jack Black to appear on my side and yell in my ear that LOOK WE ALL DID THE RIGHT THING AND VOTED BIDEN just like we did in our Rocky Horror homage. I know my Dad voted Biden. I know my Mom voted Biden. I know I voted Biden. I know if you’re reading this you may have voted Biden too.

But I’m still listening to Starcrawler at the top of Arrow de Wilde’s lungs. And I still keep burying my forehead into my palms.

Why does the future seem so bleak? Why as I type this do I feel like I’m tossing pizza crust? Why is it so difficult to feel okay about this vote? It not only feels defeating despite all the numbers indicating that Biden and Harris are kicking this idiot’s ass.

They have worked so hard to make good policy seem awful.

They have demonized Obamacare. They have put false fangs on Social Security and Medicare. They call them “entitlements” even though you have already bought them with your money.

I see this meme sometimes that says something about “two wings of the same bird.” Before you post this meme you might google it. This is a specific reference to Cuba and Puerto Rico and does not from its origin refer to our politics on the mainland. But it’s stupid regardless. As Steve Benen documents in his fine book The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics America is made up of one party who still cares about public policy and one who does not.

Guess which is which.

They are not the same. There is one party in the United States that stands for decency and good things, and wholesome American values. That party is the Democratic party, and it is now led by the presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

I so adore her. I mean, I like Joe, but I crush on Kamala so hard. Right?

The other party is the Republicans. And they subvert democracy. They withhold U.S. Justice appointments for ten months and then act like it’s normal. They tear nursing babies from their mamas tits and expect you to think it’s okay. They support a preznit who actively spreads COVID wherever he goes and doesn’t care.

I could write so much more but I’m getting tired.

But let me offer some perspective as a man who has lived so far to be 52 years old, which means that Richard Nixon was made preznit just four years after I was born. In my early years Nixon was the most corrupt preznit we’ve ever seen, then came Reagan, then came GHW Bush, then came his son.

Why do Republicans keep presenting us with more and more trash? And why does it get worse and worse and more horrifying? Until now they just said HERE’S THE WORST PERSON IN AMERICA. LET’S MAKE HIM THE PREZNIT OF THE UNTIED STATES.

Both parties are not the same. And if you vote for Howie Hawkins or Daffy Duck or some shit, you are voting for Donald Trump.

Thank you for bearing with my nonsense but please please vote Biden/Harris.

That’s The Trouble With Never

Like them big trucks trying to run the Biden bus off the road, California V. Texas is roaring down on us. Oral arguments start Nov. 10 in the Supreme Court’s hearing of whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be annihilated. From where I sit, the Republicans’ (read: federal government’s) support for this is pretty short-sighted.

Republicans have already painted themselves into a corner. They decided long ago (as documented in Robert Draper’s fine book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives) that they could not afford to allow any legislative nor legacy success for President Obama, on the grounds that it would cost the Republican Party politically on a leviathan scale. The covert strategy on the Affordable Care Act, of course, was to throw glass shards into the thing when they could, so states would drag their feet on expanding Medicare, nnd Marco Rubio would nix high-risk corridor payments, and the federal government would cut back on reminding folks about open enrollment periods. Overtly, the mantra became “repeal and replace.”

The problem being that there are things Obamacare does that people like, one of the most striking of these being the provision that prevents insurance companies from screwing people with “pre-existing conditions” with their pants on. And so you have an impeached preznit who insists that they have already done away with Obamacare, but that, somehow, this protection would remain sacrosanct.

As observed previously by this wonk and others (a fellow Smirking Chimp contributor Miles Mogulescu does an A+ job of laying this out, here), there is quite literally no other way to maintain this promise (besides completely socializing medicine in the United States). The promise to repeal Obamacare but to continue protecting people with “pre-existing conditions” is the elbow-in-your-ear of public policy. It just can’t be done.

However, I do see a possible legislative way forward. It’s stupid. But hear me out.

So what if Congress went ahead and repealed the Affordable Care Act, then introduced a new bill called the “Schmaffordable Shmare Mact.” And instead of exchanges, this thing would have markets. And instead of subsidies, it would have oh, I dunno, call it “assistance for care.” Instead of a mandate, there would be a requirement. And so on. They could say, oh, no, this isn’t Obamacare. This is the Republican plan. It’s much, much better. They could keep their promise. They could save face. And Americans could keep their current coverages. Even Democrats could go for it because the results would be laudable.

Now, as I often remind people, I am not a lawyer. But as I understand it, California v. Texas entertains two clear paths whereby the Supreme Court could completely overturn the Affordable Care Act. That would render anything resembling it as completely vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Therefore, any future legislative efforts toward health care reform could be nothing resembling a mandate, a penalty, establishing state-wide exchanges, regulating shit insurance plans, etcetera.

That leaves only one reform option on the table, Action Jackson. And it rhymes with “Medicare For All.”

You know, Republicans, if you paint yourself far enough into that corner, there’s a little stool and a dunce cap waiting for you. Sit down and wear the hat. You’ve earned it.