Of Course Trump is Running

Millions of Americans are convinced by Donald Trump that he won the November 2020 election. That he was denied the presidency as the result of massive fraud.

Presidential campaigns do not start in any definitive way. The 2024 race had “already begun” last June, or was it March, or even before the last election, back in the fall of 2020. Turn up at a Lincoln Day dinner in Portsmouth or Des Moines, and you’ll feast on a smorgasbord of “flirts with, “teases,” “kick[s] the tires” and other “unofficial start[s]” to a presidential campaign.

But every four years, there is a moment when the two political parties and the news media decide to stop daydreaming about the next one and jump right in. And sometime during this week’s pundit wish-casting about the Democratic 2024 ticket and the GOP’s threatened debate boycott, between the deconstruction of Mike Pompeo’s weight loss and the run-up to Donald Trump’s first rally of the year, on Saturday, it happened.

Ten months before the 2022 midterm elections, Washington’s head is firmly in 2024.

The proximate cause of the shift in perspective, as so often happens, is Trump.

The 45th president plainly has not suffered from his banishment from social media or — as next week’s one-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches — his loss of the bully pulpit.

Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor and an early handicappers’ favorite in the Republican primary field, delivered a State of the State address Tuesday that CNN called his “first 2024 speech,” only to be overshadowed by the former president. Trump kicked DeSantis, implicitly, in an interview with the right-wing One America News Network, belittling “gutless” politicians who refuse to say if they’ve received a Covid booster shot.

Then came Trump’s hang-up on NPR and his release of his All-Star roster of election truthers who will join him for his Saturday rally in Arizona, including the state’s leading Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, who has said she would not have certified the 2020 election results, and Mike Lindell, the pillow salesman who thinks he has “enough evidence to put everybody in prison for life, 300-and-some million people.” (He does not.)

The attention Trump gobbled up was a reminder — to DeSantis and any other potential Republican candidate — that he has not lost his gift for drawing attention. The nomination seems almost certainly his if he wants it. The Republican National Committee is preparing for 2024 by remaining hard at work on Trump’s grievances. In a reopening of Trump’s 2020 feud with the Commission on Presidential Debates, the RNC said this week it plans to amend its rules to prohibit future presidential nominees from participating in commission-sponsored debates.

Trump is the reason, primarily, that many Democrats are losing their minds over 2024, too. Biden’s public approval ratings are dismal, and Democrats fear that if Trump runs again, as is widely expected, he could win a rematch.

“All anyone can talk about is Trump — donors, policy folks, party insiders, the media,” one adviser to major Democratic Party donors told Nightly. “It’s a weird cycle, where Dems want to talk about anything but Trump, but the conversation keeps coming back to Trump. Everything that the Dems do is viewed as bad, then compared to Trump, then analyzed to see how the GOP will run against it in the midterms, then how Trump will run against what the Dems did on the heels of a GOP wave in ’22.”

Copied from POLITICO Nightly

The End of Democracy in America

I know it seems like a ridiculous idea. The world’s greatest democracy founded on July 4, 1776 coming to an end. Every nation in the world striving to have a democracy tries to emulate the United States of America.  It is happening before our eyes.  Millions of our own citizens no longer believe fair and honest elections are possible.

The US Constitution

To ensure that there are unfair elections the GOP, the Republican Party, are passing laws to deny citizens the right to vote.  But of course many Republicans believe they are doing the right thing to protect the democracy.  

States with Republican legislatures have passed waves of new laws making it harder for constituents to vote in response to the 2020 election, experts say.

Republican lawmakers in state legislatures across the country are capitalizing on Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud to pass these measures. Nineteen states have passed 33 news laws this year that make it harder to vote, according to an updated analysis released Monday by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice.

The report, which covers legislative activity through September 27, finds that:

  • Four states bundled together an array of new voting restrictions into single omnibus bills: Texas, Florida, Georgia and Iowa.
  • Four states — Arkansas, Montana, Texas and Arizona — passed multiple laws to restrict voting.
  • Many state laws hit on common themes. Seven, for instance, imposed tougher identification requirements to cast ballots. Seven states also shortened the window to apply for a mail-in ballots.

Some states are discouraging voter participation by imposing arbitrary requirements and harsh penalties on voters and poll workers who violate these rules. In Georgia, lawmakers have made it a crime to provide food and water to voters standing in line at the polls — lines that are notoriously long in Georgia, especially for communities of color. In Texas, people have been arrested and given outrageous sentences for what amount at most to innocent mistakes made during the voting process.

 Large majorities of Republicans continue to believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and elected Republicans around the country are acting on this conspiracy theory — attempting to lock Democrats out of power by seizing partisan control of America’s electoral systems. Democrats observe all this and gird for battle, with many wondering if the 2024 elections will be held on the level.

I can see only two possibilities. 1) A military civil war that will result in the loss of lives.  Those with the guns winning and resulting into a police state. 2) The splitting of the nation into multiple countries.  The liberal west coast as one nation.  The Midwest and the South another country and the Northeast a third country.

Historians will note that no government lasts forever.

Are All Electric (EV) Cars ready for prime time?

Late last summer, Chevy Bolt owners received a notice from GM: They were not to park their cars within 50 feet of other vehicles. They shouldn’t charge their cars overnight. Fully charged vehicles, GM said, should not be kept in garages.

In a residential garage the fire of a Tesla blew the metal garage doors off and spread from one Tesla to another, causing more than $1 million in damage.  The explosion of an electric car battery can release a massive amount of energy — and the resulting fire can burn for hours, stretching longer and registering hotter than a fire in a car with an internal-combustion engine.

The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt has an EPA-estimated range of 259 miles on a single charge. It takes about 1 hour to charge a Chevy Bolt from empty to 80 percent using a DC fast charger.

 Consumer Reports says driving range goes down in cold weather are the impact on battery chemistry when parked and the drain in order to maintain battery temperature and supply cabin heat. Cold temperatures can reduce an unplugged EV’s range by about 20 percent, according to testing by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, and recharging takes longer than in warm weather. 

Toyota has doubled down on hybrid technology as the affordable alternative for low emissions vehicles for the motoring masses – and says while electric cars will be a part of our motoring future, they won’t suit everyone

I know I am not ready to make the swtich. Not prime time ready.

What the average citizen can do about the demise of US democracy

This is a compilation of words written in The Atlantic by George Packer and Zachary B. Wolf on CNN.

Most Republican voters believe that the last election was stolen and that the next one likely will be too. Some have come to embrace the insurrection as a sacred cause.

There is no easy way to stop a major party that’s intent on destroying democracy. The demonic energy with which Trump repeats his lies, and Steve Bannon harangues his audience, and Republican politicians around the country try to seize every lever of election machinery—this relentless drive for power by American authoritarians is the major threat that America confronts. The Constitution doesn’t have an answer. No help will come from Republican leaders; if Mitt Romney and Susan Collins are all that stand between the republic and its foes, we’re doomed.

Barbara Walter is a professor at the University of California San Diego and has a new book out, “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them.”

She’s among those who have warned the country’s democracy is in a dangerous place.

When asked what everyday Americans could do to protect democracy, she replied with a thoughtful and lengthy email, which boils down to a few key points.

Vote. Even in presidential elections, there are millions of Americans not taking part in the democratic process. The share of nonvoters is even larger in midterm elections, and larger still at the local level.

“If they voted it would perhaps change the makeup of Congress and break the minority’s hold on power in many places,” Walter said.

Protest. Walter pointed to research from Harvard University and argued that nonviolent protest is an effective tool for change.

“It would be very, very hard for politicians to refuse to reform our democracy if even 3 percent of Americans continued to protest in the street until changes were made,” Walter said. “Americans did that during the civil rights era, when citizens demanded equal rights and freedoms for African Americans, and the government responded, satisfying a desire for equity and justice.”

Connect. It’s this last thought that caught my attention. Walter shared an excerpt from her book in which she argues Americans need to reclaim and mediate public discourse so we can “get off the path of self-segregating, predatory factionalism and restore hope in the long-term health of our country.” She offered examples of local groups across the country trying to get people talking to each other.

“Americans have begun to realize how fragile our democracy is and take action to preserve it,” Walter said. “It is at the local level—in churches, voluntary associations, and grassroots groups—that we can once again come together and relearn the power of citizenship and community.”

Get engaged

There are plenty of activist groups looking to bring more Americans into the political process. RepresentUs is a group that vows to fight corruption at the federal level and enact laws at the local level.

It is pushing for the national voting standard that Democrats are trying to figure out how to pass through the Senate.

“Keep informed with multiple credible news sources, and participate in the conversations happening in your community,” RepresentUS CEO Joshua Graham Lynn told me in an email.

There are plenty of reports on the kinds of civil servants, poll workers and volunteers who make democracy run being targeted and quitting.

“If you see your local election officials, school boards, poll workers and other guardians of democracy under attack, show up to support them. That can be anything from sending a quick email of support to going to community meetings,” Lynn said.

I’ll add here that you can call your local election office and see if there are positions that need filling. We know from Steve Bannon that Trump supporters are looking to get into as many election-related positions as possible.

“In this period of heightened anxiety, it can be tempting to tune out the world. But we truly need all hands on deck to make sure our democracy doesn’t crumble,” said Lynn.

Don’t generalize. Accept facts.

Being respectful and honest is not, and should not be, partisan.

One of the more interesting developments this week was former Vice President Dick Cheney — once vilified by Democrats as Darth Vader — appearing on Capitol Hill to show support for the January 6 investigation, which his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney is helping to conduct.

In the Wall Street Journal, the Republican spinmeister Karl Rove wrote that Democrats and Republicans have responsibilities to truth and civility.

Stop generalizing about Republicans. Democrats, he said, need to resist the “petty habit of aggravating partisan fault lines by indiscriminately condemning all who came to Washington that day.”

Accept facts. Proving the point that Democrats need to separate Republicans of goodwill from those who stormed the Capitol, he admitted his own party has more work to do.

I was shocked to see these words come from Rove:

“I’ve been a Republican my entire life, and believe in what the Republican Party, at its best, has represented for decades. There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.”

The alternatives are a civil war or dissolution of the republic.  Those are not choices no American of conscience wants.

Goodbye to 2021

The good, the bad and the ugly

First the good

The U.S. $1.9 trillion COVID-19-relief package that helped families—and states and cities—weather the financial hardship caused by the pandemic

A relatively smooth rollout of the major COVID-19 vaccines that offered protection to more than 200 million people and provided at least a brief return to normalcy

A U.S. $1 trillion infrastructure law that won Republican party support and made substantial progress on an issue that had vexed presidents of both parties

The bad

The resurgence, first in summer and then in late fall, of the coronavirus pandemic

Failure to win Senate backing of his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better economic plan all thanks to one man, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III

Retention of the filibuster in the United States Senate

Vladimir Putin massing Russian troops on its Ukraine border

The pointless meeting of countries called COP26, United Nations Climate Change Conference, that accomplished nothing

The ugly

Invasion of the U.S. Capital

The U.S. chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that ceded the country to the Taliban, cost the lives of U.S. troops, and left many Afghan allies to fend for themselves

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that inflation for the past 12 months has risen by 6.8 percent

The supply chain that ensures we can buy the things we want and need has been disrupted by the pandemic. There are too many cargo ships waiting to be unloaded and there is a shortage of manpower to make things and to drive the trucks that deliver goods around the country. In Houston, the public transportation system is offering new bus drivers bonuses of $4,000. For mechanics, it’s $8,000.

2022 does not appear to be any better than 2021 with the threats of war, a pandemic that is more ominous, and a democracy that is being threatened by its own people.  

5 Places You’ll Most Likely Catch COVID, According to Dr. Gupta of CNN

1. Houses of Worship

The Supreme Court blocked state COVID-19 restrictions against houses of worship but use caution if you plan to attend: They are hotspots for the virus. 

2. Hotels

“Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” says the CDC, calling “a house or cabin with people from your household (e.g., vacation rentals)” more risky and “Hotels or multi-unit guest lodgings (e.g., bed and breakfasts)” “even more risky.”

3. Bars

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said: “We need to really take seriously the issue of wearing masks all the time and not congregating in bars,” calling them “certainly an important mechanism of this spread.”

4. Cafés

“In cities worldwide, coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to restaurants, cafes and gyms. Now, a new model using mobile-phone data to map people’s movements suggests that these venues could account for most COVID-19 infections in US cities,” reports Nature. “The team then used the model to simulate different scenarios, such as reopening some venues while keeping others closed. They found that opening restaurants at full capacity led to the largest increase in infections, followed by gyms, cafes and hotels and motels.”

5. Restaurants

One way you can catch COVID is to be indoors with strangers (or anyone you’re not sheltering with) who have their masks off. Naturally, you must take your mask off to eat. That’s why restaurants are so problematic. “When you have restaurants indoors in a situation where you have a high degree of infection in the community, you’re not wearing masks, that’s a problem,” Dr. Fauci has said. He prefers takeout or delivery.