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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
January 5, 2021

Donald Trump's silver lining: Will his last-ditch coup rip the Republican Party apart?

Donald Trump's silver lining: Will his last-ditch coup rip the Republican Party apart?
Assuming the republic withstands this assault, Trump may have done us a favor — by demolishing the Republican Party

JANUARY 5, 2021 12:00PM

(Salon) Despite the existential threat to American democracy Donald Trump is manifesting, there's part of me that's cheering for him to keep on doing what he's doing. I'll explain momentarily. Meantime, yes, he's committing treason by exploiting the office of the presidency to forcibly overturn the certified results of the 2020 election. If he were successful, it would signify the end of our system of government. Sure, he's much more likely to fail, but it doesn't necessarily mitigate the damage he's wreaking, especially to his own party.

Since the November election, Trump has not only been stress-testing our electoral system but also our judicial system and especially various state governments — not unlike the velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" testing the electrified fences as a means of escape. While he's been hilariously unsuccessful, he's essentially leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the next Trump (who could literally be another Trump) to follow in his tiny footsteps.

It appears as if the system has held, this time around, yet party operatives are fully aware by now which Republican officials to replace (watch your backs, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger) and which posts are most vulnerable to authoritarian extortion. Next time, it could be much easier for Trump copycats with tyrannical aspirations to seize power, thanks to the trail he's blazing for them as we speak.


The lure of Trump's emerging party, much like the Dark Side of the Force, is easier and more seductive from a political standpoint. But again, this won't attract everyone — it won't be every single Republican. It'll be a whole lot of them, though, and the group will only get larger as the online reach of pro-Trump conspiracy theorists and OAN fanfic grows exponentially larger, collecting new Trump Party members as it snowballs, while leaving turncoat anti-Trump Republicans in its wake. Once the teams are decided, the party that once occupied half of the political debate in this country will see its power greatly undermined by Trump's shenanigans. ..............(more)


January 5, 2021

Tesla Finally Almost Hit 500,000 Deliveries, Two Years Behind its Promise, for......

Tesla Finally Almost Hit 500,000 Deliveries, Two Years Behind its Promise, for a Global Market Share of… 0.7%
by Wolf Richter • Jan 2, 2021 •

But Tesla’s market capitalization is higher than the combined total of Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, GM, BMW, Honda, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler. The zoo has gone nuts.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Tesla announced today that it finally almost reached 500,000 deliveries in a calendar year, with its 499,550 vehicles delivered globally in 2020, and that it finally hit its target of producing 500,000 vehicles a year – two years behind its promises. Back in May 2016, it had promised in its quarterly report that it would produce 500,000 vehicles in 2018.

But it didn’t happen in 2018, far from it, and it didn’t happen in 2019 either. It finally happened in 2020. That promise in May 2016, like so many of Tesla’s and CEO Elon Musk’s promises, had caused its shares to surge.

Every promise Tesla and Musk issue is worth many billions of dollars in the company’s market capitalization, which then allows the company to raise many more billions of dollars by selling more shares. In 2020 alone, it raised $12.3 billion through share sales, on top of the $20 billion or so it had raised since its IPO.

Never mind that these promises either don’t happen at all, or happen finally years behind the promised date, by which time many more promises were issued that drove the shares even higher, allowing the company to raise many more billions. Musk walks on water, and the SEC is blissfully asleep. .............(more)


January 5, 2021

Trump's Republicans have dumped Lincoln - they're the Confederacy now

(Guardian UK) On Wednesday, the Republicans’ transition to the party of the Confederacy will be complete. A day after Georgia’s runoff elections, at least a dozen lawmakers in the Senate and more than half of the party’s House membership will seek to overturn the results of the 2020 election and disenfranchise the majority of US voters. A coup attempt in all but name, this is how democracy dies.

Sadly, a statement issued on Saturday by seven sitting senators and four senators-elect dispelled any doubts about the nexus between the end of the US civil war, more than 150 years ago, and Donald Trump’s desperate attempt to cling to power. Predictably, America’s racial divide again stands front and center.

After regurgitating for the umpteenth time unproven and unsubstantiated charges of electoral fraud, the senators invoked the election of 1876. Back then, the Democrats contested the outcome, conceding after the Republicans agreed to halt Reconstruction.

As framed by Ted Cruz and his posse, “the most direct precedent” for their actions “arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race”. In their telling, “elections in three states” were “alleged to have been conducted illegally”. Left unsaid is that after the end of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the toxic legacy of “separate but equal” followed. ............(more)


January 5, 2021

'It's a dark place': Trump's call a window into a President consumed

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump had been trying for weeks to get Georgia's secretary of state on the phone.

Aghast at the thought he lost a state Republicans have held for decades, and desperate to reverse the result, the President insisted to his advisers he could persuade the state's top election official to validate his false claims of voter fraud -- if only he could speak with him directly.

So, for more than a month, operators at the White House tried reaching Brad Raffensperger. Eighteen attempted calls came into his Atlanta office from the White House switchboard in the weeks after the November 3 election.


Ghost town

Despite Trump's efforts to stay in power, the West Wing is becoming more like a ghost town. Several senior staffers have departed in recent days and more are expected to do so soon as officials line up their next jobs. The few senior staff who are left have sought to distance themselves from Trump's efforts out of fear of possible legal exposure.

Some senior aides, including Hope Hicks, are spending less time at the White House than previously. And Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, was headed to Saudi Arabia early this week for a ceremony marking the end of the Gulf crisis involving Qatar rather than remaining in Washington.

"No one wants to be around anymore," one official said. "It's a dark place." ...........(more)


January 4, 2021

Trump's Georgia shakedown call is the same scheme that led to his impeachment -- only worse

Trump's Georgia shakedown call is the same scheme that led to his impeachment — only worse
Sorry, Susan Collins, Trump learned nothing from impeachment: He's doing it again, except it's even more dangerous

JANUARY 4, 2021 6:00PM

(Salon) One of the most soul-taxing aspects of the Donald Trump era is how much it's like living in a political version of "Groundhog Day." We endure variations of the same handful of scandals over and over again until we're numb and unable to tell what happened one day from the next. The result is a weird time dilation, where the past year feels like a dozen as if everything is happening both quickly and slowly all at once.

So it's probably no surprise that few pundits seem to have noticed how Trump's call to Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that he steal Georgia's election by falsifying votes is a direct sequel to the scheme that got Trump impeached. And like most sequels, this one attempted to be bigger and bolder — but only ended up being sloppier and more confusing.

Impeachment was a year ago, which is many eons in Trump Standard Time, so a quick recap of what Trump did to get impeached: He called the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and demanded that Zelensky abuse his powers to help Trump cheat in the American election. Trump wanted Zelensky to announce an "investigation" into Joe Biden, hoping to bolster a disproved conspiracy theory about Biden, and threatened to withdraw military aid to Ukraine if Zelensky didn't give in to his demands.


That Trump is resorting to the same trick — using threats to pressure government officials to abuse their power and/or commit crimes for him — should be no surprise. Trump portrays himself as a master negotiator, but in reality, extortion is the only strategy he has. Just last month, Trump was using the same extortion tactic against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, threatening to tank the coronavirus relief bill if McConnell didn't find some way to steal the election for Trump. In October, Trump was pulling the same trick on his FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatening to fire Wray unless Wray manufactured evidence for an anti-Biden conspiracy theory. This pattern goes all the way back to Trump's first days in office, when he extorted then-FBI director James Comey, demanding Comey disappear an investigation into the Trump campaign's collusion with a Russian conspiracy. ............(more)


January 4, 2021

Donald Trump's influence will evaporate once he leaves office. Here's why

Donald Trump's influence will evaporate once he leaves office. Here's why
Julius Krein

Those who believe in the invincibility of Trump’s personality cult hold a view of American democracy that is at once too cynical and too naïve
Tue 29 Dec 2020 06.00 EST

(Guardian UK) Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election has fueled intense speculation about his post-presidency: will he start a new conservative cable network? Will he act as a kingmaker in the Republican party? Will he run for president again in 2024?

Underlying all of these rumors is the assumption that Trump will continue to hold sway over a significant voter base. But this is by no means assured. It seems just as likely that, over time, Trump’s trajectory will land him closer to associates like Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani – hosting a middling podcast and hawking branded merchandise while trying to fend off prosecution.

The media echo chamber which now insists that Trump will be a titanic political force for years to come sounds increasingly similar to the one that, five years ago, claimed he was no more than a flash-in-the-pan celebrity candidate. The glaring underestimation of Trump in the past and probable overestimation of his prospects today actually stem from the same error: the belief that Trump’s political appeal rests mainly on his personality cult, not on any association with a certain set of policy arguments.


First, after one term in office, it is clear that the Republican establishment changed Trump more than he changed the party. Although his administration’s policy record is a mixed bag, the shift in rhetoric over four years was unmistakable. Attacks on hedge fund managers and pharma executives became rarer and rarer, replaced with praise for tax cuts, cheering on the Dow, bashing “socialism” and lauding supreme court appointments. To be sure, arguments can be made for all of these things, at least among conservatives, but they are arguments that Ted Cruz or even Jeb Bush could make, albeit less theatrically. Of late, Trump’s combativeness has focused almost exclusively on allegations of election fraud and cringe-inducing self-pity; most people are already tuning it out.

Meanwhile, as Trump has drifted away from the more substantive themes of 2016, others have embraced them. Up-and-coming politicians like Senator Josh Hawley and pundits like Tucker Carlson have articulated more coherent right-populist arguments than Trump ever has. Senator Marco Rubio is leading an ambitious attempt to rethink Republican economic policy, while figures like Representative Matt Gaetz have emerged as passionate critics of foreign interventionism. It made little sense for these and other prominent Republicans to criticize the 45th president while he was in office. Should Trump enter the 2024 race, however, he will find the populist “lane” of the Republican primaries far more crowded. The Democratic party has also changed. Joe Biden campaigned on a “Made in America” industrial policy program, something Trump never really countered in the 2020 campaign. ..........(more)


January 4, 2021

Trump's latest crime "shocks" the media: His niece, Mary Trump, is not surprised

Trump's latest crime "shocks" the media: His niece, Mary Trump, is not surprised
Mary Trump on her uncle's desperate attempt to escape being a "loser": It's a "uniquely terrifying situation"

JANUARY 4, 2021 11:00AM

(Salon) When it comes to Donald Trump, too many people in the mainstream media and elsewhere have tried to impose complexity onto simplicity. For many such observers there must always be some other explanation for Trump and his movement's anti-democratic behavior and overall evil. Therefore, we must ride the hamster wheel of shock and surprise at each new example of Trump's ignominious behavior.

Why does this happen? It comes from applying old frameworks for understanding politics and presidents onto a man and a movement that have shattered them. Moreover, to admit basic if unpleasant truths about Trump and his movement would be to force an act of critical self-reflection on a mainstream media ecosystem that has largely failed in its responsibilities to hold the powerful accountable during the Age of Trump.

We learned on Sunday that Donald Trump has apparently committed yet another "shocking" crime against democracy and the American people. According to audio recordings acquired by CNN and reported by the Washington Post, Trump spent an hour on the phone with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, urging Raffensperger "to 'find' votes to overturn the election results," and attacking him "for refusing to falsely say that (Trump) won the election in Georgia."

CNN reports:

"The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you've recalculated," Trump said in one part of the call. Raffensperger responded, "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong."

In another part, Trump said, "So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."

"You should want to have an accurate election. And you're a Republican," Trump said at one point. ...

The call represents the latest extraordinary effort by Trump to change the results of the race he lost following weeks of legal and political efforts by the President, his legal team and Republican allies to overturn the free and fair election.


America needs to undergo a real reckoning with itself about the Age of Trump and how this disaster came to be. What would a reckoning and healing look like to you?

We cannot have a reckoning if the government refuses to hold people accountable. The idea that there may not be a truth and reconciliation committee or a crimes commission is unspeakable. How is that possible? There is no one in the United States government for whom that is more necessary than for Donald. It would be good if there was accountability at the federal level. We may have to settle for accountability at the state level. ............(more)


January 3, 2021

Quelle surprise! .... Repugs mad that Raffensperger recorded the call

Republicans are lining up not to denounce President Donald Trump's demand that the Georgia secretary of state commit a crime and invent nearly 12,000 votes be "found" for him. Instead, they're denouncing that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for recording the call.

While Raffensperger hasn't explained his motivations, his lawyer was on the call with him, and that lawyer may have been behind the demand to record the call to protect the Secretary and his office.


Former Rep. Kelli Ward (R-AZ), who is now the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, lashed out at Raffensperger, saying that when the president calls her, she's just honored to talk to him. ..............(more)


January 3, 2021

Michigan winters, as generations have known them, may be coming to an end

Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press

Karl Schwartz wishes he was simply chasing glory on the snowmobile racing track. Instead, in recent years, he has been forced to chase increasingly elusive cold weather.

Schwartz, of Freeland, is president of the Midwest International Racing Association, a snowmobile racing circuit operating primarily in Michigan for more than 40 years. Their weekend races draw about 100 teams, hundreds of racers and crew members, and thousands more fans, usually as part of a local community's winter festival.

But each year, as Michigan's climate changes, it's getting harder to do.

"We race on ice, not snow," he said. "We don't need snow — we need cold temperatures."


Michigan's cold, snowy winters, and a way of life built around them, are being disrupted by climate change. And for winter festivals reliant on cold, snow and ice — and communities reliant on the economic boost at a slow time that those festivals bring — it's causing some scrambling to adapt, and even to survive.

The Great Lakes region has seen a larger increase in annual average temperatures than the rest of the continental U.S. And "winters are getting warmer more quickly than the summers are," said Richard Rood, a professor in climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan. ..............(more)


January 3, 2021

Lol. The Fox News homepage. Not a peep about 45's call.....

.... The lead story is about Nancy Pelosi facing a razor-thin margin in her battle to remain Speaker.

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