Watergate versus The Big Lie

“Nowhere I feel safe.”

Since the break-in of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex hit the half-century mark, pundits have decided to do a comparison. Watergate versus The Big Lie.

If you are too young to remember or weren’t near the United States at the time, it may be difficult to understand the earlier event. The Watergate hearings were so unexpectedly shocking that people were watching them for double-digit hours every week that they aired.

After what was termed a ‘third-rate burglary” in June 1972, both the Washington Post and CBS News were perceived as having a vendetta against President Richard Nixon. He was re-elected president, carrying every state except  Massachusetts, plus the District of Columbia.

Yet, by May 1973, the Senate hearings under conservative Sam Ervin (D-NC) began. They were riveting, and almost everyone was watching. “‘Never have I enjoyed watching television more than in the last two weeks,’ one Washington Post letter writer testified, ‘with the spectacle of high human drama interwoven with the finest possible example of the democratic process at work unfolding before my eyes for hours on end, with no rehearsal, no canned laughter, very little commentary (none needed!), and, best of all, almost no commercial interruption!'”

A “fascination of the hearings was the questioning of young Nixon aides who left senators incredulous with their explanations that ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ morality had become semiofficial White House policy.” Ultimately, with Republicans recognizing that, indeed, Nixon WAS a crook, RMN resigned in August 1974.

Compare and contrast

djt was impeached a second time in January 2021, but acquitted by the Senate the next month. I thought I had heard all I needed to know back then. But the manner in which the January 6 committee laid out the details was stunning to me.

The first hearing showed how the Big Lie led to the insurrection at the Capitol. It was even more brutalizing than I’d seen before. And BTW, here are some companies that Empower the “Big Lie”.

Hearing number two made it clear that 45 KNEW that the claims of fraud and conspiracies were crap. He may have chosen to ignore White House lawyers, campaign lawyers, and his staff. AND he profited monetarily, something I noted at the time, from gullible supporters told they were helping to fight corruption. Nah, the corruption was a quarter of a BILLION dollars, much of it going to his hotels.

Regarding the third hearing, I’d like to say here, poor Mike Pence. I’d like to, but the former veep was such a sycophant. Yes, he withstood the great campaign to get him to violate the Constitution by nixing Biden’s electoral college votes. I’d heard it before, but djt’s assertion that maybe rioters were right when they chanted “Hang Mike Pence” was chilling What kind of person says that? The angry mob came within 40 feet of the vice president. djt called Pence a “wimp” and “pussy” that morning, using a tone Ivanka Trump had never heard her father use towards the veep.

I didn’t know that former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who I had despised policywise, was one of the folks floating the idea of removing djt via the 25th Amendment, but Pence rejected it.

Terrorizing

State election officials were up for hearing number four. They were pressured by djt or surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani to “find” votes for Trump and/or invalidate Biden electors. And when they refused, they were harassed.

A truck was driven through the neighborhood of Rusty Bowers (R), the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, playing a recording accusing him of being a pedophile. The wife of Brad Raffensperger (R), Georgia’s secretary of state, received “sexualized” threats by text.

Black, female poll workers Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were called out by name by djt and Giuliani in a ploy that was both violent and racist. Ms. Freeman said there is “nowhere I feel safe. The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one.”

We know djt planned to declare premature victory even before election day. Were Supreme Court justices considering joining a scheme to overturn the election? What does Ginni Thomas have to say regarding her conversations with John Eastman, the law professor who cooked up the false and illegal strategy?

Department of Justice officials described at hearing number five how djt hounded them to pursue his false election narrative. If he had replaced the agency’s leader with a more compliant, unqualified person, there would have been mass resignations at DOJ. 

Multiple Republican members of Congress requested pardons after January 6, including Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

No big deal?

For me, January 6 is far, far worse than Watergate. More than one analyst suggested that Watergate had, in the end, a positive outcome because “the system worked.” That’s a reasonable assertion.

But lots of Americans are convinced that January 6 was just a vigorous exercise of freedom of speech. Some folks can be easily conned. And/or members of Congress and other officials are feeling beholden to djt. Hell, Rusty Bowers said that he would vote for djt in 2024 if he were running.

And it’s not over. Election denier Jim Marchant is the Republican nominee for Nevada secretary of state. He’s hardly the only one who puts the integrity of future elections at stake. For instance, current members of Congress.

“If I become president someday, if I decide to do it, I will be looking at [the Jan. 6 rioters] very, very seriously for pardons — very, very seriously,” djt said. “Should I decide to do it, we’re going to be one people and one nation.”

Not about partisan revenge

The Boston Globe says There is no question: Merrick Garland must put Trump on trial. “If the former president and his allies can get by with nary a scratch after plotting an overthrow of the US government, then what message will that send? Prosecuting Trump is not about partisan revenge; it’s one of several necessary steps that the federal government ought to take in order to meaningfully reform the presidency and defend American democracy.

“Now that the United States has gone through one failed attempt at overthrowing the government — instigated by none other than a man who was president at the time — it is more crucial than ever to show future occupants of the White House that breaking the law in the Oval Office will not stand.

“But there is also another reason for the Department of Justice to hold anyone who participated in trying to overthrow the government, including Trump, accountable: Not only would it deter a future president from breaking the law in such a brazen way, it would also discourage their cronies and sycophants from playing along. Government officials at any level must be shown that they can be held personally liable for abusing their power.”

Blowhards such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who’s another Big Liar, suggest that he’ll investigate Hunter Biden next year if the GOP takes back the Senate and if Garland acts against djt. Here’s my working theory: Johnson will investigate Hunter Biden REGARDLESS of whether Garland acts, so it’s a non-issue.

The SCOTUS abortion ballet

“enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not”

abortionIt’s not that I’m happy that the Texas state legislature passed legislation severely restricting abortion. It’s that I’m unsurprised. I’ve come to expect dreadful things from the Texas legislature – see its recent restrictive voting bill.

These bills were signed by its terrible, awful, not very good governor, Greg Abbott, who’s always in fierce contention with Florida’s Ron DeSantis as my least favorite state chief executive.

The latest bad law in Texas bans abortion as early as six weeks. For women with regular menstruation cycles, they have only two weeks after missing a period to determine pregnancy. This is before most people even know they are pregnant.

Vigilantes

Worse, the state law allows anyone to sue a person or organization that provides abortion care or even helps someone obtain an abortion. As Truthout notes: “The drafters of SB 8 established a novel scheme to prevent lawsuits against state officials by privatizing enforcement and deputizing private persons to sue people who provide abortions.

“The bill gives any non-governmental person the right to sue abortion providers and those who ‘aid and abet’ them, financially or otherwise… Defendants must pay plaintiffs who win their lawsuits a $10,000 bounty plus attorneys’ fees. In other words, Texas is bribing its residents to sue people who help women get abortions.”

This variation on vigilante justice is not only constitutionally dubious but potentially dangerous to the potential defendants. The targets “could include anyone — doctors, nurses, friends, spouses, parents, domestic violence counselors, clergy members or Uber drivers.” Given the rage people have over vaccine requirements and mask mandates, this is scary stuff. As VoteVets noted: “In a state with fewer restrictions on guns than on reproductive health care, that kind of vigilante justice is pretty terrifying.”

Supreme Court punts

So I’m furious with the SCOTUS abortion ballet. In a one-paragraph, unsigned order, the court acknowledged that the providers had “raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law.” But that was not enough to stop the law from going into effect. The court explained it’s because of the way the law operates.

Specifically, the court observed, it wasn’t clear whether the state officials – a judge and court clerk – and the anti-abortion activist whom the abortion providers had named as defendants “can or will seek to enforce the Texas law” against the providers in a way that would allow the court to get involved in the dispute at this stage.”

That’s legal mumbo jumbo for BS. As Chief Justice John Roberts notes, SCOTUS has allowed the state to allow the implementation of a law that could be unconstitutional. “The Court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

As Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in dissent, the Texas “Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not…The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligation to not only protect the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”

Onerous

In a state that leads the country and much of the developed world in the rate of maternal mortality, women in Texas will now have to travel to another state to secure an abortion or resort to life-threatening back-alley coat-hanger abortions. There is no exception for rape or incest.

Biden said the Court’s [in]action in Woman’s Whole Health “unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.” He added, “Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women.”

Future

Does this mean that Roe v. Wade has been overturned? Not necessarily. This was a wuss non-action by SCOTUS. The Court will address Roe in a  Mississippi case soon. The Court’s actions in Texas DOES make me nervous about Roe’s future.

It’d be nice if Congress would pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, but I’m not encouraged. 

89 more people = no lost NY House seat

27 to 26

census2020-storyimageWhen I heard that New York State was to lose a Congressional seat after the next reapportionment, it didn’t particularly upset me. The projections from months ago had suggested the possibility of the state losing one or even two seats.

UNTIL I heard that if the state had counted 89 more people, and the other numbers had stayed the same, the number in New York would have stood pat. Minnesota would have lost a House seat.

THEN it hurt. I mean almost physically pained me. I took it personally. I’d spent months trying to plug the Census. Then I WORKED the Census as an enumerator for six or seven weeks. I was SO invested.

Put in your favorite sports cliche here. US football last play of the game, down 4 points, and the running play stops three inches shy of the goal line. Two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in baseball, down one, runner on base, and the blast from the batter is caught at the fence. The basketball three-pointer to win hits the rim and bounces away.

I Heart NY

New York was the 32nd fastest-growing state in the nation. The US gained 7.4% overall. With 20,201,249 residents, NY’s count was 4.2% higher than in 2010. But the New York delegation will fall from 27 to 26 members of the House of Representatives.

BTW, the US saw the lowest overall population growth since the Great Depression. “Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration, and the scars of the Great Recession more than a decade ago,” reports the Associated Press, “which led many young adults to delay marriage and families.”

Incidentally, these pieces may be of interest:

A Preliminary Analysis of U.S. and State-Level Results From the 2020 Census.

How the Census Bureau Unduplicated Responses in the 2020 Census.

March rambling: 151 fictional species

Upstate NY climate haven?

Zoom meetingsWhat is the only country with Catalan as an official national language? What is the only officially bilingual province in Canada? Answers below.

United Methodist conservatives detail plans for a breakaway. Their leaders have unveiled plans to form a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

North Dakota Is About to Kill the National Popular Vote Compact.

Daily Kos very comprehensive guide to the 117th Congress, members, and districts.

Upstate NY cities named among the best climate havens as the world grows hotter.

Jeff Sharlet: All That We’ve Lost (COVID).

24 Cybersecurity Statistics During the Spiraling Panic Around COVID-19.

Wait at Least Seven Weeks After COVID for Surgery.

Heather McGhee – “The Sum of Us” and The True Cost of Racism | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Judge blisters prosecutors as he releases 3 wrongfully convicted Black men after 24 years.

The African/American Table.

Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Activist And Power Broker Dies At 85.

Roger Mudd, the longtime TV newsman, dies at 93.

Five things worth knowing about the Mars Perseverance Rover.

Tyranny of Choice.

Why spacing out is good for you.

Vlogbrothers: How Much Hope is OK?

Snow Days May Never Be the Same. As I’ve noted, boo, hiss!

Before You Blow Up on  YouTube | The Cautionary Tale of Jani Lane.

How to Delete Your Old Online Accounts (and Why You Should).

Deep Nostalgia photorealism on the MyHeritage site. Creepy.

Does Alcohol Really Burn Off When Cooked?

Cherry Blossom Cam – U.S. National Park Service in DC. The predicted peak blossom time is April 2-5.

Pokémon at 25: How 151 fictional species took over the world.

 We’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe we are.

Now I Know

Attempted Mann-Slaughter and Squashing the Garden and The Blues for Some Boo-Boos and The Soviet Plan to End the Weekend and The Not-Quite-Vice-President Who Was Almost Accidentally President and The Rock-Paper-Scissors Lizards and Arresting The Chief and  Why Blue Means Stop in Hawaii and The Other Harvard Makes a Bad Sale and The Genoa Exception.

MUSIC

Mr. Biden (Bring My Vaccine) – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

String Quartet in G Major – Florence Price

William Tell Overture (ending) – The Great Kat

Karelia Suite and Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Coverville 1348: This Day in Covers: February 25, 1976, and 1349: David Gilmour and “Girl” Groups.

Aquarius – Peter Lawford.

Let’s Hang On – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The Rebecca Jade section

Home Made, Parts 10 and 11

Panda Remix.

Remind Me

Concert of Pat Metheny music, Live(ish) From SpragueLand: Episode 16, The Fields, The Sky.

Answers

Andorra; New Brunswick.

Sedition and other high crimes

“loser of the year”

fomenting violenceThe fact that the Supreme Court, as expected, rejected that absurd Texas lawsuit doesn’t fill me with the joy that it should.

Of course, the attempt to overthrow Joe Biden’s election victory was bogus. It is, presumably, again and yet again, the “end of the road” for the crusade to overturn the election. But America lost anyway.

His angry mob supporters spark terrorism fears. When he levels threats at the Republican Attorney General in Georgia, his rabid fans take him literally. “Brad Raffensperger… and his wife have received death threats, including by text message, and caravans have circled their house.”

People just trying to do their jobs

And, per a list from the New York Times:

* Dozens of his supporters, some armed, went to the home of Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, and began shouting obscenities.

* On Twitter, his supporters have posted photographs of the home of Ann Jacobs, a Wisconsin official, and mentioned her children.

* In Phoenix, about 100 of his supporters, some armed, protested at the building where officials were counting votes.

* In Vermont, officials received a voice message threatening them with “execution by firing squad.”

* Seth Bluestein, a Philadelphia official, received anti-Semitic and violent threats after Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General and ally of IMPOTUS, publicly mentioned him.

* A Georgia poll worker went into hiding after a viral video falsely claimed he had discarded ballots.

Reality?

* Gabriel Sterling, another Georgia official, received a message wishing him a happy birthday and saying it would be his last. In a later interview with Time magazine, Sterling argued that elected politicians could defuse the threats by acknowledging that the election was fair. “Leadership is supposed to look like grown-ups in the room saying, ‘I know you’re upset, but this is the reality.'”

The reality, of course, is not the intent of the “reality” star. It appears to be to foment the violence, and he has succeeded. I agree with the official who worries, “I don’t know how this ends without violence and death.”

And I lay it at the feet of the guy who said, both in 2016 and 2020, long before the votes were counted, that if he didn’t win, the elections must have been rigged. So only one-quarter of Republicans believe Biden actually won.

High crimes

These 40 days of denial and disinformation got me to look at 18 USC Ch. 115: TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. It’s odd because it is the presumed, albeit outgoing, HEAD of the government that, one could argue is, per §2385, Advocating the overthrow of Government.

“Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Conspiracy

“Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

“Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.”

One could – and I do – make the argument that in the words of Garry B. Trudeau, He’s “guilty, guilty, guilty.” I’m generally not a fan of sedition acts, as they almost always dampen free speech. But when actions by a soon-to-be-retired high-ranking government employee threaten the very fabric of democracy, I accept it.

Wusses

So why did 126 Republican members of Congress and about a dozen and a half state attorneys general sign on to this Supreme Court travesty? Fear of what he can do with that over $200 million that he has raised, ostensibly to fight the”rigged” election.

But he’ll have plenty of leftover cash. Those Republicans not toeing the orange line might get a well-funded primary challenge in 2022. He’s taking names, he said, like a demented Saint Nicholas, seeing who’s naughty or nice, to him.

Sometimes he tells the truth. Maybe he WILL start his own media company to take on the suddenly non-compliant FOX. This will give him the visibility for those other Republicans who want to make a 2024 White House run, that it’ll be an uphill climb.

Can’t win for losing

This week, the prominent German news magazine Der Spiegel named him its “loser of the year”. This happened the same day Time magazine named President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris its “Person of the Year.”

“In an article titled ‘Der Verlierer des Jahres…’ the publication’s Washington bureau chief Roland Nelles and Berlin-based correspondent Ralf Neukirch described him as a ‘man who … was never concerned with the common good, but always with one thing — himself.’

“Nothing is normal under him. He refuses to admit defeat. Instead, he speaks of massive electoral fraud, although there is no evidence for it. The whole thing is not surprising. His presidency ends as it began. Without decency and without dignity.”

I contend, though, that IMPOTUS has won. From that NYT:

His “attempts to overturn the election result are very unlikely to succeed. For that reason, the effort can sometimes seem like a publicity stunt — an effort… to raise money and burnish his image with his supporters.

“And it may well be all of those things. But it is also a remarkable campaign against American democracy. It has grown to include most Republican-run states, most Republican members of Congress, and numerous threats of violence. The new centerpiece in the effort is [that] lawsuit.” And the cowardly Republicans who signed on are “‘inflaming the public’, causing many voters to believe — wrongly — that a presidential election was unfair.”

If you Google 1918 Germany, you’ll find several references to one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century. “Powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to…the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

“Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation.” The “lies” were perpetrated by the liberals and the Jews. “That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter.” This is not a path the US should follow.

As my friend Alan notes, “He spends every day successfully sabotaging the institutions of our government, which means he is sabotaging the health and safety of every human being in the country. He is the greatest threat to the United States in its history.”

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