Saturday, December 12, 2020



When the Hurley-Burley’s done…?


Having served as journalist at The Washington Post for over two decades, John Harris is a veteran political journalist and co-founder of Politico, the political news and opinion organization available on various newsfeeds. Harris and Jim Vanderhei founded Politico in 2007 and Harris served as editor-in-chief until 2019.  Excerpts of his recent article below demonstrate a less emotional and hopefully more accurate prediction of what is to come – even if too slowly for many of us. 


“Donald Trump lost the presidency, but his opponents so far have not achieved the victory they want most: A fatal puncturing of the Trump movement, a repudiation so complete that it severs his astonishing grip on supporters and leaves him with no choice but to slink offstage and into the blurry past.

“For now, Trump dominates conversations about both present and future. His outlandish claims that he won the election except for comprehensive fraud have helped raise more than $200 million since Election Day. Many of his partisans share his dream of recapturing the presidency in 2024. For those who despise him, to paraphrase a famous Democratic speech, it seems clear the work goes on, the cause endures, the fear still lives, and the nightmare shall never die.

“Except it will die — most likely with more speed and force than looks possible today.

“There are three primary reasons to be deeply skeptical that Trump’s moment of dominating his party and public consciousness will continue long after Jan. 20.

“Most important are the abundant precedents suggesting Trump does not have another important act in national politics. The perception that Trump will remain relevant hinges on the possibility that he is a unique historical figure. Trump, however, is singular in one sense only: No politician of his stripe has ever achieved the presidency. In multiple other ways, he is a familiar American type, anticipated by such diverse figures as Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, and Ross Perot.

“Like Trump, they all possessed flamboyant, self-dramatizing personas. They tapped into genuine popular grievance toward elites, and had ascendant moments in which they caused the system to quake and intimidated conventional politicians of both parties. In every case, their movements decayed rapidly. Cults of personality in American politics are quite common. But they never live long, and Trump has offered no reason to suppose he will be an exception.

“That’s the second reason Trump is not well-positioned to retain his hold on public attention: He has largely abandoned any pretense that he thinks about anything other than his personal resentments, or that he is trying to harness his movement to big ideas that will improve the lives of citizens. When he vaulted into presidential politics five years ago, Trump’s still-potent gifts — for channeling anger, for mockery, for conspiracy theory — were once channeled to an agenda that fellow Republicans were largely neglecting, over trade, immigration, globalization, and perceptions of national decline.

“These days, no one can follow Trump’s Twitter feed and believe that he cares more about the public’s problems than his own, and that is not a recipe for sustaining political power.

“Here is the third reason to be bearish on Trump’s future: Politics never stands still, but Trump largely does. As he leaves the White House, Trump should be haunted by a stark reality — if he had any capacity for self-calibration, he wouldn’t be leaving the White House at all. He’s got one set of political tools. When things are going well, his instinct is to double down on those. When things are going poorly, his instinct is to double down on those. In political terms, the pandemic demanded modulation of Trump’s blame-casting brand of politics — but also would have lavishly rewarded him if he had done so.

“Trump didn’t change because he didn’t perceive the need and couldn’t conceive of how to do so. That’s a combination of flawed judgment and impoverished imagination that hardly supports optimism about his ability to retain power in the new circumstances that await him once gone from the White House.

“Time moves on. Ambitious Republicans who wish to regain control of the party and become president themselves do not have to confront and defeat Trump, as his 2016 rivals tried and failed to do. They merely have to transcend him, using issues to create leadership personas that will soon enough make the 74-year-old Trump look irrelevant, an artifact of an era that has passed. What about his 88-million Twitter followers, and the possibility that in his ex-presidency he will start his own news network? It is true that Trump will not lack for avenues to get his message out. But what will that message be, beyond repeating claims of a stolen election that his own attorney general has said are not true. Conspiracy theories, of course, can have power, even when the evidence is nil — that’s just proof of how deep and wide the conspiracy must go. But this isn’t a promising basis to return Trump to the White House or make him kingmaker."

There’s so much more to savor reading by Mr. Harris’ article “Relax, A Trump Comeback In 2024 Is Not Going To Happen.”  I hope you do and entertain a reason to hope that his longer view of our nation’s political history will once again repeat.    

Saturday, December 5, 2020




The Republican Senate in November of 2017 approved the $1.5 Trillion Tax Relief Bill skewed to assist the wealthy and major corporations but not without an offer to repay some major part of the cost of debt.


That payment would involve a deal: the reassignment of public lands as well as Native American lands as leasable to private oil, gas, and energy companies just before the end of Trump’s first term in office. 


Those lands, the “Coastal Plain” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge represent nearly 8 percent of the 19 million acres of publicly owned land that is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  In addition, the Trump Tax Relief Bill also provided subsidies for oil and gas industries, cuts in federal investments for clean energy development, and the lessening of plans to control climate change.  But there’s more: Trump’s administration has added to the $8 Billion gas and oil companies already receive in tax benefits as well as reducing royalty rates to be paid to the U.S government for use of lands, etc. 


The “coastal plain” is nearly 1.5 million acres, but it is also the environmental and biological heart of the ANWR, supplying life to the migrations of thousands of caribou, providing safe denning for hundreds of polar bears, protecting endangered avian species, and maintaining large salmon resources.  And the home of indigenous peoples who depend on those resources for their culture and survival.  


Trump started the process for selling oil rights in the coastal plains just after his election loss on November 17th.  The procedure included a 30 day window for oil companies to confidentially tell the government which pieces of land they would like to include in a possible lease.  


Like a car, it’s a lease that ends with an option to buy and own.  Or, the companies can turn it back over to the Native Americans after they've “developed it (aka mutilated) beyond recognition.  But, if profitable, the companies can purchase it and carry on.


Although distasteful, this is not really very new.  Land reform deals where Roman patricians gained financially over plebes through swindles of acreage and the emperor over those same patricians reach back to 500 BC, but oil companies have been salivating over this opportunity in the coastal plain of ANWR for decades.


Patterns of seismic blasting the '84 and '85.

Between 1984 and 1985, more than 20 oil companies found means and method to survey the lands under the coastal plains, leaving scars and pockmarks that lasted many years.  Findings were unclear, but in 1986, Chevron and BP got the opportunity to spend $40 million and drill down 3 miles to find the answer, an answer no one is allowed to know. The well was called KIC-1.  


We’ll never know if there was oil or not – unless BP or Chevron (now Standard Oil) give away their position when bidding on a lease. Through the work of their hordes of lawyers and subsequent court filings, the two companies were able to muzzle the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources from releasing any of the two companies’ data.   


As for Alaska?  A Republican state without income or sales taxes and dependent upon its 50% of all revenue from mandated lease sales, despite its effects upon its indigenous people?  They can easily look the other way as the political process continues.


If you were wondering what another four years of Trump might look like, this is just one small sample of what he would do and is doing to burn it down before leaving an office in shambles for the next President.  President Biden may find his hands somewhat tied if Trump and his gang can get the leases finalized before he is forced to leave office on the 20th of January, but Biden does control the permitting process afterward and the future costs enough to make even BP or Chevron take pause.    

Let's hope he does.


Resources: Center for American Progress and NRDC




Saturday, November 28, 2020





“Hope is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul – 

And sings the tune without the words – 

And never stops – at all - “


Thank you, Emily Dickenson, who in hurried verse warns next of the many threats to that small bird, “that sings the tune.”    I thought to write some screed today of the latest long-lasting attempts by Trump to wreak some more devastation upon the environment before January 20th.  Alas, last Friday’s move to roll back the regulations protecting migratory birds, legal consequences which have stood in place since 1918, was too hard to swallow much less explain.  Add to that the black record of what has been done to our climate and natural landscape in the last four years, well, let’s lock up those straight razors, friend.  


“And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – 

And sore must be the storm – 

That could abash the little Bird 

That kept so many warm – 


So, then, on to a diatribe about all the vultures flying into the state of Georgia to manage the scads of money being sent through the Republic National Committee and the Republican wanna-be Senators in their prostrate performances for cash on FOX News outlets.  Calling Karl Rove, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, etc., being paid a king or queen’s ransom for consulting from purse money sent to the cult of Donald.  That’s a clear staircase to cynicism and beyond.  No thanks.


I’ve heard it in the chillest land – 

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me."


That brings us to Georgia and the runoff for Senate.  Two seats and quite possibly an opportunity to take the possession of the Senate by the Democratic Party.  


Democratic candidate Ralph Warnock is running against Republican Kelly Loeffler. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is campaigning against Republican David Perdue.   


So, just maybe, this time Hope is not enough.  It’s time to pay the crumb.


The runoff is January 5th.  Get involved.


Willing to – 

Write Postcards, man phone banks, work phone banks directly with candidate offices, contribute directly to Ossoff or Warnock or the Georgia Senatorial Campaign Committee, or support ongoing efforts to increase the civic participation of underrepresented and underserved communities of color in Georgi and elsewhere?  


Contact Indivisible Chicago now.  


We are “in Extremity.”  THANK YOU.



Saturday, November 21, 2020




Back in 2016, a larger number of people I worked with admitted they were going to vote for Trump for two reasons: they detested the well-established power of Hillary Clinton AND they wanted to send someone to the Whitehouse who would destroy the status quo.  


They sure did.


Now in 2020, Clinton has disappeared in the rearview mirror, but Trump is about to pay all of us (even supporters) back for the electoral college loss.  Not simply refusing to concede the election in order to soak them all once again for money to “fight” the inevitable, but also to lay the framework(s) for kneecapping Biden’s Administration for the next four years after January 20th.  And, in so doing, likely loose economic havoc upon the nation if possible in order to show us just how sorely he will be missed after being fired.  Always the Imperial Sulker. 


This week, treasury Secretary Mnuchin began an unexpected battle with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about how to handle the remnants of nearly $1.8 trillion provided by the Congress for the CARES Act, passed in March of 2020, to assist the businesses, markets, and working population suffering from the effects of the Covid pandemic.  


Ignoring the current precipitous climb in Covid cases nationally as coldly as he ignores the lack of any actual plan to do anything by a Whitehouse which has not addressed or attended any Task Force meetings for two months, Mnuchin cites the economy’s “great shape” as reason enough to pull money back to the Congress that was earmarked for the Federal Reserve for use in playing lifeguard if economic conditions were to drown.  


You can read this later: (Very simply put, the money in the CARES Act was given to the Federal Reserve to provide money to all of us in need as the pandemic wreaked destruction on our economy: cutting borrowing rates, maintaining lowered interest rates, actually purchasing massive amounts of securities to stabilize residential and commercial mortgage backed borrowing, providing safety backstops for to cover losses for money market funds hit hard by the initial responses to Covid, eased overnight lending for cash and short term requests to keep price stability, assistance to small businesses, relief for municipal and state governments, and many more.)


Riding the market’s high wave of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine announcements, Mnuchin, according to the New York Times, “is taking away a source of economic support just as the new administration comes into office and as rising virus cases dog the recovery.  By asking the Fed to return the money that enables the emergency efforts, he could make it harder for the Democrats to restart then at a larger scale or on more generous terms.”


Get it?  Things are probably to get worse with the Covid before they get better; the economy is therefore going to falter; and there will now not be any money left to help counter the problem.  


One policy economist stated, “It is not just closing down the store for Biden; it’s burning down the store.” 


On the other hand, “The Fed’s lawyers have interpreted the law to mean they can keep the programs running into 2021…”.  But Mnuchin argues that the original CARES Act was written to end on December 31, 2020.  Mitch McConnell, of course, agrees.  And the money returned to the Secretary will not be recouped in loan repayments as it was originally intended.  When returned to the Congress, it will instead be added to the deficit as Congress can use it to spend as they like.  


How many more reasons do we need to become involved in a Senate run-off in Georgia in January? 


According to the CDC, we’ve incurred nearly 200,000 new cases of Covid today.  Those in need will see the end of their fiscal assistance on December 26th


Trump and his cronies, realizing they will not win in the courts, are now in the process of assuring that the next incoming administration faces as many crises as they can manufacture – no matter how many people, friend or foe, are injured or killed.  







Saturday, November 14, 2020



Ten Years After…


Apologies in advance. This post will wander all about, but in keeping with 2020 not much remains undistorted anymore.


Ten days ago seems now much like Ten Years After.  And an old rocker like myself fondly recalls Alvin Lee’s singing “I’d Love to Change the World.”  And, honestly, I believe there are at least 78.5 million Americans who would agree with that idea right now…yesterday, in fact.


Of course, Trump refuses to accept the obvious outcome, just as his niece Mary Trump warned in her recent book and as Bill Maher has been finger-wagging for nearly four years. And, well, here we are.


But always the transactional narcissist and would-be dictator, Trump will not exit until he can feather his ample nest with more and more cash.  And his quietly frightened cohorts in the Trump/Republican Party will not be any obstacle, nor will those who still occupy shady if credentialed positions in the GOP’s transition to whatever it stands for now.  (Remember this last election cycle; the Party avoided identifying any platform whatsoever.) 


Newt Gingrich, for example.


I just received my call to action from Newt in my email.  I always enjoyed reading the descent of the Republican Party into chaos and fawning for an Uberfuhrer, so I never did hit that “unsubscribe” part of their blasts.  


Digression: When we taught together in high school, our language arts team often approached vocabulary as a student’s means to “play” with language while learning its power to generate a voice, a persona, a sense of emotion, and often an appreciation for persuasion – sometimes serious and sometimes ludicrous.  


I’m afraid poor Newt would not have fared so well in any of our classes. I’ll provide the plea for cash for Don at the end of this post, but you’ll notice there is no ethos, pathos, or logos in the emotional request.  Nothing playful or even interesting.  Anger, loathing,  and fear-mongering, in fact, is all that runs through it: 


“Friends:  The Election is unlike anything we have ever witnessed.  The systemic corruption is breathtaking. The mainstream media, the Left-wing academics, and the entrenched Democrats will all ask us to roll over right now.  There is voter fraud in this Election that MUST be reported and uncovered.” 


While it is true that the Election was unlike anything we have ever witnessed in the sheer numbers of people inspired to come to the polls – especially to rid ourselves of the current mistake – no one has found any systemic corruption, and judges are reprimanding the false claims of lawyers approaching the bench to find any for Trump.  Pennsylvania’s prestigious law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur has withdrawn representing a suit to claim miscounts in that state.  Another firm in Arizona has done likewise.  There’s so much here. Okay, maybe a positive for ludicrous….  In his closing sentence, Newt suggests an illogical and perhaps alternative reverse of cause and effect: “reported and uncovered.”  Normally that phrase would be other way around, but this is 2020 and this is Newt.


Or is it?


I think maybe, just maybe, Newt plagiarized this from Stephen Miller.  Don’t you?




It’s time for us to get MAD.

This Election is unlike any we have ever witnessed. The systemic corruption is breathtaking. The mainstream media, the Left-wing academics, and the entrenched Democrats will all ask us to roll over right now. There is voter fraud in this Election that MUST be reported and uncovered.

President Trump isn’t backing down - nor should he - but he needs YOUR help to keep going. He’s calling on a select group of his STRONGEST supporters, like YOU, to step up and bolster our critical Election Defense Fund.

This is the moment that will decide everything - will you join President Trump and FIGHT for America’s future? 

He’s even agreed to increase your impact by 1000% if you ACT NOW.

 Thank you,

Newt Gingrich

 And now, “I’m Going Home.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

Short Thoughts on the Vote 11-6-2020

 From John Pierpont (1785 – 1866)


We all re-invent and undergo major self-renewals in our lives.  Teaching poetry to young and active minds in my youth, I often asked students to seek the compressed multiple lessons in a single piece of poetry, no matter how compact. Our discussions unfolded not only the elements of poetic thought but our own positions as well. And each year brought a new and vibrant re-interpretation from the points of view of those who would live so much beyond my own lifetime. We all become strangers in our own land, but we also hold on collectively to what is good and noble.  


This single poem by John Pierpont, a graduate of Yale, Unitarian minister, abolitionist, and would-be chaplain in the raging Civil War of the United States is certainly worth another careful look in these turbulent times:





A weapon that comes down as still

As snowflakes fall upon the sod;

But executes a freeman’s will,

As lightning does the will of God.



I wish you well and health as this terribly important lesson in Democracy runs its course.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020




Let’s face it.  After the last four years and the exclamatory ending called Covid-19, we can’t imagine anything getting worse than what we have endured.  Right?




Blame it on the Founding Fathers, if you will, but if you’ve been wondering why 79 days exist between election day and the swearing in of the new Commander-in-Chief, it’s more than just organizing a vote in December by the Electoral College in case of an inappropriate and harmful choice by the country’s populace.  That vestigial process didn’t work well last time, but what if there were NO OUTCOME.  In other words, what if a tie in the popular vote too close to call and an actual tie in the Electoral College: 269 to 269 votes?  


I know, not probable, but, still, possible.  And after this year, well, why not?


And, believe it or not, the Founding Fathers and a later Amendment or two make that convoluted selection process of a new President and Vice President somewhat clear and slow-moving.  And the process indicates just how dreadfully important each down ballot for Senator or Representative in each state will be.  “Vote like your life depends on it?”  


While the polling may indicate a substantial lead for the Biden/Harris campaign right now, Biden campaign handlers warn that the election may be closer than anyone thinks; after all, they’ve seen a snake bite before.  And Tom Edsall in the New York Times indicates that data shows in some key states Republicans are registering to vote in numbers far greater than Democrats


Most of this nightmare emerges from an unsettling possibility reiterated by Elaine Kamarck in a review of the unlikely process for the Brookings Institute.  Here’s what happens:


“The Constitution is pretty clear on how this plays out. If there is no winner in the Electoral College, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 3 states that the decision goes to the House of Representatives while the Senate picks the vice president. But the voting in the House is different from the Senate. In the vote for vice president, each Senator has one vote. But in the House each state has only one vote for president—regardless of its size—and a presidential candidate needs 26 states to win.”  Illinois has, for instance 18 Representatives in the U. S. Congress – 13 Democratic and 5 Republican (at this time).  


“If the presidential race should end up in the House the outcome would depend on which party controls the state’s delegation. As it stands Republicans are in the majority, with control of 26 state delegations.  Democrats control 23 state delegations and one state, Pennsylvania, has a tied delegation: 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans. But the Congress is sworn in before the Electoral College votes are read out in the Senate. In the case of a tie it will be the next Congress not the current Congress that votes on the presidency, and a handful of 2020 congressional elections could decide the presidential election.”


The next Congress?  The battle that is taking place before us these last weeks and the next very few days.  But is it really likely?  Only in our recent lifetime has America had two elections where the winner of the popular vote did not become the President because of the Electoral College. And the danger in holding to an antique and obsolete notion of distrust for the people’s vote makes possible that this undermining of democratic processes could repeat again.  


Need something to watch carefully Tuesday evening?  Kamarck gives us several:


Pennsylvania: “Start with Pennsylvania, a state that is already getting outsized attention—it was very close in 2016 and looks to be close again. Since its congressional delegation is tied now, if Democrats hold their seats and win only one congressional seat they will control the delegation. According to the Cook Political Report the most likely seat to flip is Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, located in the south central portion of Pennsylvania. The Republican incumbent Scott Perry is running against State Auditor General Eugene de Pasquale, a Democrat. The district has a PVI score of +6 Republican, meaning that in recent elections it tends to vote for Republicans. But recent polling suggests a neck and neck race.”


Florida: “Next is Florida where the Republicans have a one-seat advantage over the Democrats. If one seat switches from Republican to Democrat, control of the Florida delegation moves to Democrats. Democrats have to hold all the seats they have and pick up one seat. Their best chance is Florida’s 15thCongressional District, northeast of Tampa. It’s an open seat currently occupied by Ross Spano, who was defeated in the Republican primary. In the general election race Democrat Alan Cohn, a former ABC News anchor, is running against Republican Scott Franklin, a Navy veteran and city commissioner. Like Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, Florida’s 15th tends to be Republican. But Cohn is running slightly behind Franklin and within the margin of error.”


A clear landslide on either side dampens any arguments moving the outcome toward this kind of scenario, although Trump will always be the wild card in the aftermath of dog whistle/electoral/judicial reviews of his outraged complaints.  And if Trump says it could go on for a very long time?  Well, he may be the last to have read the United States Constitution, but it’s a possibility: “What if the tied Electoral College race results in a tied race in the House of Representatives? The House keeps voting until someone gets 26 votes. If the House can’t elect a president by Inauguration Day, the person elected vice president by the Senate becomes the acting president until the House manages to select a president.”


And the House must continue its voting until it finally the deadlock finally breaks…until the deadlock finally breaks. 

So, grab your popcorn and handkerchief…or something decidedly stronger, and settle in for a long, long evening on Tuesday.


Wishing us all the best.