BIDEN INAUGURATION

At last the big day, the day the Trump-haters have longed for since the 2016 election, has arrived. Trump is out, and Biden is in. The anti-Trump coalition – the Dems (and a few GOPers), the “elites,” the media, the tech moguls, Big Pharma, the DC establishment, the Hollywood liberals, the swamp dwellers, et al – can all exhale. Things are back to normal. The world has returned to spinning on its axis. All is well once again. Order has been restored. Right? Uh, not so fast as I will explain below.

First, a brief commentary on the inauguration, itself. Once again, America has demonstrated that despite our differences we have effected a peaceful, orderly transfer of power. I agree with those who say that Trump should have attended. Even though Biden said he didn’t want him there, and his presence would likely have overshadowed the proceedings, it is customary for a former president to attend. Every one has done so since the Civil War. Despite the biased manner in which he has been treated for the past four years and the obvious antipathy between Biden and Trump, it would have been the right thing to do.

That said, I thought Biden’s acceptance speech was okay, not great, not inspiring, but okay. Fox anchor Chris Wallace gushed that it was the best inauguration speech he has ever seen. He is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t agree. I think he was a little carried away by the moment. He and I are about the same age. I’m sure he remembers JFK’s inauguration speech. Now, that was inspiring. Biden’s, by comparison, was desultory, almost boring.

The central theme of Biden’s speech was a desire to unite the country, “bring America together.” Biden vowed to be the president of all the people, not just the ones who voted for him. If only! Biden didn’t explain how he will accomplish it. In summary, he offered platitudes, not policy. Talk is cheap; it’s actions that count. In the interest of fairness, I will reserve judgment until I can assess his actions. However, as I have outlined below, I don’t think he is off to a good start.

The inflammatory rhetoric on the left has been accelerating in the last few weeks. It is clear that the far left wing of the Dem Party has no interest in uniting the country. The “cancel culture” is in full swing. Revenge and vindictiveness are in the air. For example:

  1. The House Dems pushed through a rush impeachment of Trump in one day. One day! The constitution contemplates that impeachment should be a deliberate, carefully thought-out process with witnesses, debate, and counsel for the accused. It should not be done on the spur of the moment. It should not be marred by emotion. This impeachment violated all of the above guidelines. Moreover, President Trump’s term in office was virtually over anyway, and many constitutional legal scholars have opined that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to impeach a private citizen. The House’s action was ludicrous on its face. The purpose of impeachment is to remove someone from office. How can you do that when the person is no longer in office?
  2. Biden has issued a slew of provocative Executive Orders. Of course, it is his right, but some of them, such as inviting migrants to enter the country, halting construction of the southern border wall in the midst of a pandemic, no less, ending the “travel ban,” rejoining the Paris accords and WHO, broadening protections against “discrimination in the workplace,” and closing the Keystone X L Pipeline, will be deleterious to the country and make no sense except to enhance divisions among the populace.
  3. Leftist radicals, such as the “squad” and certain news commentators, have been advocating extreme programs such as banning “unacceptable and “inflammatory” comments (from conservatives) from social media, blacklisting Trump supporters in the job market, banning books with a conservative viewpoint, voiding college degrees of certain senators, and sending Trump voters’ children to “re-education” camps. I kid you not.
  4. Many of them, including Biden, believe and have stated that the country is infested with “white supremacists,” and “domestic terrorists” that must be “rooted out” and “defeated.” That, my friends, is code for Trump supporters, all 75 million of them, indeed, anyone who doesn’t share their political opinions. No dissenting opinions will be allowed. How are comments like that supposed to unite us all? I don’t know any white supremacists nor, to my knowledge have I ever met one. Have you? I doubt it. There are very few in the US.
  5. In previous blogs I have discussed the Dems’ radical programs, such as the Green New Deal, statehood for Puerto Rico and DC, a huge tax increase, ending the filibuster in the Senate, and packing the Supreme Court. These “hot-button issues, which the Dems have vowed to pursue, will be very damaging to the country and certainly will not unify it.

CONCLUSION

If Biden is serious about unifying the country, he will have to start by reining in the radicals in his Party. I fear he doesn’t have the “stomach” to do it, but, I am willing to “wait and see.” As I said, actions speak louder than words.

By the way, it is an “open secret” that Biden is not well, physically and mentally. His supporters know it; the opposition knows it; the media knows it; anyone that has been paying attention the last few years knows it. However, no one has wanted to say it publicly. It is like the children’s story “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Now that Biden has won, how long will it be until it leaks out? My guess is not long.

I fear the country is in a bad place, very bad. As a student of history, I see some scary parallels with Soviet Russia of the early 20th century and 1930’s Nazi Germany. Then, as now, the signs of autocracy are being advanced by a small, vocal, well-organized group, but they are being ignored. Our Bill of Rights is under attack, and few people seem willing and able to do anything about it. I hope we can survive until 2022.

A TALE OF TWO STATES

As everyone has seen, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been fraught with problems. The apt description that comes to mind is “FUBAR.” For those of you who are not familiar with the acronym it stands for “Fouled up beyond all recognition.” (For those of you who favor more colorful language feel free to substitute another word for “fouled.”)

From what I can discern based on various news reports the success or failure of the rollout has varied from state to state depending on the adequacy of that state’s planning, organization and leadership. Every state has had to cope with a shortfall of supply to some extent, but some have dealt with the problem better than others. One common theme is that politicians at all levels – federal, state, county and local – have been doing what they do best: blame someone else. It’s so typical and expected, but no less annoying.

Rather than trying to analyze the experiences of all 50 states, with apologies to Charles Dickens I will compare the experiences of two states – New York and Florida.

NYS’s rollout has been problematic from the start. For instance:

  1. Apparently, Governor Cuomo is unaware of or has forgotten that old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” NY has proven to be as ill prepared for the rollout as it was last summer for the pandemic, itself. As a result, it has been scrambling to catch up. NYS State Senator Phil Boyle opined that the state should have had a distribution plan in place and ready to go prior to the arrival of the vaccines. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University echoed that sentiment. “We had the the time to engage the [local] communities, engage the leaders, [and] educate them. We lost that opportunity.” I agree. It’s not as if we were taken by surprise. Everyone knew months ago that the vaccines would be ready eventually, and that when they arrived time would be of the essence.
  2. In my view, NY has been one of the many states guilty of “micromanaging.” NY officials from the governor on down have been trying to exert too much control at the state level instead of delegating the rollout to local authorities who, obviously, are more cognizant of the needs of their communities. When asked to comment on this issue Nassau County Chief Executive Laura Curran tried to be diplomatic, but her frustration came through anyway. “We communicated to them [the state]….that we were ready to be helpful. ….”I think the state is now seeing how valuable we can be on the local level.” The cruelest irony of all, as pointed out by Alex Azar, HHS Secretary, is that while many people were unable to arrange appointments thousands of doses were lying in warehouses undistributed. There were reports of some that had to be destroyed.
  3. The vendors have been unable to deliver sufficient supplies of the vaccine. There are various reasons for this. All states have had to figure out how to deal with this issue.
  4. In addition, there have been reports of shortages of necessary supplies such as needles, vials and swabs
  5. Some states have coped better than others. Florida is one of the states that has been able to adapt; NY, not so much.
  6. Cuomo has been complaining that the Feds have “shorted” NY by tens of thousands of doses. Cuomo spokesman, Jack Sterne, tried to deflect responsibility stating that “every state had trouble in the beginning due to a lack of support and planning from an incompetent federal administration.” Yes, but as I said, some states have handled it and adapted to it better than others. Like I said, every state is being forced to deal with the same issue. I say, Andy, put on your “big boy pants” and deal with it. Take responsibility. Show some initiative and some leadership. Instead of griping, find a solution.
  7. NYS failed to delineate clearly the order of priority of different groups of people. For example, the second group to receive the vaccine was “essential” workers and people over 75, but before all of them could be inoculated the next group was authorized to and began to receive the vaccine. Thus, in one fell swoop the state tripled the number of persons eligible to receive the vaccine. Millions of persons were vying for appointments at the same time, which overwhelmed an already taxed system. Also, some people in the third category have been vaccinated ahead of those in groups 1 and 2.
  8. Making appointments has been plagued by computer glitches. Predictably the system has malfunctioned and “crashed” on multiple occasions. It became routine to spend hours on line trying, in vain, to get an appointment. Often, people would continually get error messages. Try to imagine the frustration and stress of an 80 year old person trying to navigate through such a situation. Also, many people don’t have access to a computer, or are homebound. What do they do? How is a nursing home patient, who is likely immobile, supposed to get to an inoculation site? The worst situation occurred with respect to the facility at Stonybrook. Some 20,000 persons had their appointments voided. Melissa DeRosa, a senior aide to Governor Cuomo ascribed that to that old standby excuse, a computer “hack.” But, Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Pubic Health, has ascribed the malfunctioning computer system to a “lack of preparation.” I believe that is the more likely explanation.
  9. Trying to get an appointment by telephone has been no better. If one were lucky enough to get through it was common to wait on hold for long periods and then either get cut off or be told their were no appointments available.
  10. According to Newsday NYS’s rigidity as to who was eligible to be vaccinated has contributed to the problem. Governor Cuomo’s defense was that he was merely following CDC guidelines.
  11. Newsday reported that additional sites have been needed to cope with the demand, and some are scheduled to open up over the next few weeks. Fine, better late than never, but the state will be playing catch-up. It will also have to resolve the other abovementioned issues.
  12. Even these new sites have proven to be inadequate. For example, last week a new site opened at Jones Beach. There were 55,200 slots available. They were filled within two days, and the dates were months away. How many more people will die before they can get their vaccines.
  13. On the other hand, Florida appears to have been better prepared and better organized. It should be noted that FL’s population has a higher risk profile than that of NY in terms of COVID. According to the latest US Census Bureau figures available it is the third largest state in terms of population with 21.9 million and ranks second in percentage of residents in the high risk category of 65 and over (20.5%). Do you know which state is first? See answer below. It will surprise you. By comparison, NY is the fourth largest state with 19.4 million and ranks 26th in percent of elderly (16%).
  14. FL’s Governor Ron DeSantis has affirmed that the elderly and healthcare workers and patients have been and will continue to receive top priority.
  15. FL has been utilizing the local infrastructure of its individual counties. Vaccines have already been shipped to all 67 FL counties for distribution. People I know who live in FL have had a much easier getting vaccinated than New Yorkers. FL appears to be well ahead of NY in distributing the vaccine to those who need it.
  16. According to Florida Health Carlos Montoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, praised Governor DeSantis for his “planning ahead” and exhibiting “tremendous leadership in getting the vaccine out into our community quickly.” FH noted that from the very outset DeSantis ensured that those at the greatest risk were given top priority. He “prioritized frontline healthcare workers as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities.”
  17. According to Business Insider since FL is not requiring proof of residency many “snowbirds” have been flying down there to be vaccinated. Many of them stay for a while and enjoy a mini-vacation while they wait for the booster shot. DeSantis called the practice “vaccine tourism.” According to the Wall Street Journal FL health official explained this policy thusly: “If [people] are spending time in our community….they can be spreaders.” In addition, people have come from as far away as Argentina.

CONCLUSION

NY is continuing to be plagued by a resurgence in COVID cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. According to various news sources total hospitalizations have exceeded 8,800 for several days running, a total not seen since last May. At the same time, as discussed above thousands of elderly and immunocompromised persons have been unable to get vaccinated.

This is a chance for president-elect Biden to show some leadership. He made COVID the central issue of his campaign. He has said he will direct the feds to establish mass inoculation sites and mobile clinics, provide billions of dollars in additional funding, and pressure the manufacturers to step up production not only of the vaccine but also of related supplies such as vials, needles and swabs. Talk is cheap. Let’s see if he can pull it off. I, for one, will remain skeptical until and unless he does so.

Quiz answer: Maine (20.6%).

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUN AMOK

We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not as if the Dems didn’t give advance warning. The signs have been there in plain sight for those of us who were paying attention. They have been planning this for months, if not years. Now that they have gained control of all three branches of government they can act with impunity, and they know it, and they are doing so. The Dems, the social media outlets and the media have formed an unholy alliance to control the country. Anyone who does not toe the far left line, who dares to offer a dissenting opinion, who does not submit will be crushed. If they can do all this to the president think what they can do to you and me. As Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, giddily predicted months ago “everything will be on the table.” Those of you who are silent now think of the song “Bad Boys.” “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

I see parallels between the current situation and Nazi Germany of the 1930s and Soviet Russia. Make no mistake about it. This is a very scary time for us all.

The demonstration at the Capitol last week was just an excuse. Yes, it was wrong; it was dangerous; it was extreme; and people died. Everyone agrees. I have not heard one person defend it. There is no defense. But, is it grounds for impeaching a president who is leaving office in one week? Is it grounds for the runaway PC that has followed and, in all likelihood, will continue to follow? More on that later.

Keep in mind, we are talking about one incident that got out of hand. I submit that it was a far cry from all the rioting, looting and lawlessness that the Dems, BLM, ANTIFA and their sympathizers perpetrated in many cities throughout the summer and fall. As anyone who followed the news knows, people were killed; their businesses were destroyed; churches and government buildings were burned; police were attacked, injured and killed; and alternative “countries” were established in the middle of Portland and Seattle. Harris, Pelosi and other Dems openly supported these riots and even helped provide bail money to put those arrested back on the street. Why weren’t they charged with insurrection and sedition? Biden and the mainstream media stayed silent throughout. I didn’t hear all the widespread outrage we are hearing now.

That said, let’s examine the current extreme, over-the-top reactions by the PC crowd. I will cite just a few examples courtesy of Fox News. You decide if they are appropriate or extreme. You decide if they are examples of suppression of free speech guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Keep an open mind.

  1. Today, the House led by Speaker Pelosi voted to impeach President Trump for a second time. This was truly an ill-advised and time-wasting endeavor. The Constitution views impeachment as a very serious and deliberative process, not a snap judgment to be completed in one day. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has stated that there is simply not enough time for the Senate to conduct a trial before the President leaves office on January 20. Furthermore, according to renowned attorney, Alan Dershowitz and others the Constitution does not permit the impeachment of a former President, so the Senate cannot act after January 20 either. Therefore, this impeachment, like the one earlier this year, will not result in a conviction. Jesse Watters commenting on Fox News reported a poll by the McLaughlin Group that 77% of voters in the battleground states think it was a protest that got out of control, not an insurrection. They consider impeachment to be divisive and a waste of time and money. They would rather the Congress focus on COVID. In my view, Pelosi is grandstanding for the left wing of her Party. Hello, Nancy, we are in the middle of a pandemic. People are suffering; people are frightened; people are dying. Why not focus on that instead of acting like a modern-day Nero.
  2. A Newsweek reporter named Darragh Roche has advocated putting Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley on the “no fly list.” Keep in mind that this list is reserved for terrorists and other dangerous criminals. Cruz and Hawley are far from that. They elected sitting US Senators. What was their “heinous crime?” Advocating for an an audit of the 2020 election results in a few states. This was not unique. Historically, such audits and investigations have not been uncommon.
  3. Simon and Schuster, who are they publishers of Hawley’s new book, have dropped representation. On what legitimate basis? Who pressured them to do so?
  4. Senator Dick Durbin has introduced a bill to classify Trump rallies as domestic terrorism. What rallies? He will leaving the presidency in one week. To me, this is inane grandstanding. Durbin should know better.
  5. Forbes magazine has proposed blacklisting former White House staffers who might apply for a job prospectively. Why punish staffers just because you hate Trump?
  6. The major social media outlets have conspired to silence and destroy Parler, a new media outlet that had the audacity to publish conservative opinions. Unknown forces went so far as to pressure Parler’s attorneys to resign. I thought in America everyone had the right to legal representation. Even terrorists and the worst criminals do.
  7. The Bar Association is considering taking action against Rudy Giuliani because he was working on behalf of President Trump.
  8. The PGA has announced it will not sponsor any events at a Trump-owned facility.
  9. And my favorite, a PBS attorney has advocated putting children of Trump supporters in “re-education ” camps. I kid you not. (I understand his employment has since been terminated.)

CONCLUSION

Even if you hate President Trump, even if you think he has been the worst president ever, that is still not justification for the above measures. The “left” and its PC have truly run amok. These measures are un-American. They are akin to those imposed by Soviet Russia and other autocracies back in the day. And they’re just getting started. What’s next? Denying Trump supporters a mortgage, a car loan, admission to a college, the right to fly? The possibilities are endless. The country is heading down a slippery slope. It will not stop with President Trump. Who knows where it will end.

President-elect Joe Biden has been proclaiming he wants to unite the country. Sounds good, but actions speak louder than words. Joe, this is your chance to reach out to the other half who did not vote for you. How about showing some leadership by telling the Dems to “stand down.” You won. Rather than being vindictive, how about being gracious in victory. How about thinking of the country for a change.

This is a very dangerous time for America. We are divided as never before, with the possible exception of the 1960’s. Division weakens us. Our enemies are always looking to exploit a weakness. You can be sure they are paying very close attention. Are our leaders?

A TIME FOR HEALING

ENOUGH, ALREADY! Enough with the hateful, vindictive language! Enough with the squabbling! Enough with the violence! Enough, enough, enough!

Now is not the time to exacerbate the divisions among us. Now is the time for healing. Now is the time for our leaders on both sides of the aisle to step up and demonstrate their leadership. Now is the time for our leaders to validate the reasons why we elected them in the first place. We did not elect them to make things worse. We elected them to make things better.

This has been and is a very tough time for America. People have lost their jobs. People have lost their small businesses into which they have poured their life’s blood. And on top of all that we are in the midst of the worse pandemic in over 100 years, if not ever. People are dying. People have stood by helplessly while their parents, friends and neighbors have died at the hands of an arbitrary, capricious and merciless virus, and they have been unable, in many cases, even to say good-by or even to give them a proper, respectful funeral.

People are scared, very scared. They want their elected leaders to make things better, not worse.

Now is not the time for the Dems, who control the entire government, to flex their muscles. Now is not the time for vindictiveness. Now is not the time to pile on. Now is not the time to ban people from social media because they express opinions we don’t like or agree with. Now is not the time to waste our time, energy, and money on trying to impeach a president who will be leaving office in ten days. How ridiculous is that? It would take much more than ten days for the process to play out. As I said above, we have much bigger problems to address.

CONCLUSION

Now is the time to forgive, to forget, and to heal. Many of us will remember that after President Nixon’s resignation in August 1974 his successor, President Ford, granted him a full and complete pardon. Nixon’s many enemies howled. They wanted blood. But, President Ford knew it was more important to heal and move on. He didn’t get a lot right during his presidency, but he was spot on right about that. History shows that we did heal, and we did move on.

I ask Joe Biden and the other Dem leaders to forget about revenge, forget about “getting even,” put aside your personal animosity to President Trump and his supporters, forget about placating your radical friends and supporters. Show some leadership. Do the right thing. The people will be grateful. History will vindicate you.

Be fair. Be kind. Be magnanimous. Put aside petty differences. Focus on what is important.

Now is a time for healing.

TOMMY LASORDA

Tommy Lasorda often said he “bled Dodger Blue,” and few followers of baseball would dispute that. During his 71-year association with the team he came to symbolize the Dodgers more than anyone else with the possible exception of longtime announcer Vin Scully. Moreover, he loved the fans passionately, and they loved him right back.

Thomas Charles Lasorda was born on September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pa. one of six boys. His scrappy, bombastic, pugnacious personality was an outgrowth of his upbringing. Money was tight, there were many mouths to feed, and it was not easy to hold one’s own among five brothers. Young Tom was a “go-getter.” He was always working to make a few extra bucks. For instance, during summers among the many jobs he had were as a bellhop and laying track for the railroad.

Baseball was his ticket out, so to speak. He was a good enough pitcher to attract the attention of the Philadelphia Phillies who signed him directly out of high school in 1945 as an undrafted free agent. After serving two years in the military he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 1948 minor league draft.

Lasorda, a lefthanded pitcher, possessed limited talent as a player. He languished for 14 years in the minor leagues and often played Winter Ball for teams in the Caribbean. He appeared briefly in the major leagues with the Dodgers and KC Royals, and never won a game, going 0-4. During his only start for the Dodgers in 1954 he tied a dubious major league record by throwing three wild pitches in the first inning after which he was removed. For good measure, he was spiked by one of the players who was scoring after one of those wild pitches. After that debacle he was sent to the minors, never to return as a player. Lasorda always said, with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, that the Dodgers had to make a tough choice between keeping him or another young wild lefty by the name of Koufax, and it took one of the best pitchers ever to displace him.

Lasorda spent some 20 years working his way through the Dodgers minor league system. He started at the bottom and eventually worked his way up to AAA. He did everything. He was a scout, coach, manager, sold tickets and even cooked team meals. He accompanied several players as they rose through the Dodgers minor league system all the way to the majors. Among the many players were infielders Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Roy Cey who were to play together for the Dodgers for a record 11 1/2 consecutive years. By the time he got to the Dodgers, he knew the players and their abilities and they knew and respected him and his abilities. Some 75 of the players he managed in the minors made it to the majors (not all with the Dodgers).

Probably, his best achievement as a scout was recommending Mike Piazza, even if it was by accident. In high school Piazza was an infielder of pedestrian ability and achievement. Lasorda was a close friend of the Piazza family which lived in the Norristown area. He convinced the Dodgers to draft him as a special favor to him. They were reluctant. They did not want another infielder, but they needed a catcher. So, Lasorda told them “sure he can catch,” even though he had never played the position. The Dodgers drafted him in a late round. We all know how Piazza turned out.

He made his mark as a manager for the Dodgers from 1976 – 1996. During that span he won 1,599 games against 1,439 losses. He won two World Series (1981 and 1988), four pennants, eight division titles, and his teams were almost always in contention. I will always remember those two WS. The Dodgers were big underdogs in both, yet they prevailed in large part due to Tommy’s leadership. In 1981 they had to come from behind in both the playoffs against Montreal and the WS against the Yankees. They lost the first two WS games, then won four straight. The other noteworthy thing about that Series is that my seven year-old son, Matt, who was a Yankees fan, abruptly switched allegiance to the Dodgers during the Series. I still like to remind him of that.

The 1988 win featured a dramatic victory against the Mets who had a much better record and had dominated the Dodgers during the regular season. Then, the Dodgers upset Oakland in the WS aided by an otherworldly performance by pitcher Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic homerun. Gibson was injured and could barely walk, yet he homered off one of the best relief pitchers at the time. (I will never forget Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck’s iconic call “I don’t believe what I just saw!).

He was voted Manager of the Year twice. In addition, he led the US Olympic baseball team to a Gold Medal in 2000. From time to time, some critics questioned his strategic moves, but there was no denying his proficiency as a motivator, handler of players, and his popularity with the fans. He was a superb ambassador of the Dodgers and of MLB, in general.

When he was hired, ascending from the job as third base coach for the Dodgers, he was replacing a very successful manager, Walter Alston, who had held that post since 1954 winning four World Series and numerous pennants. A reporter asked him if he felt any pressure replacing such an iconic manager. He said, “no, I’m worried about the pressure on the guy who is going to replace me some day.” Everybody laughed at the obvious joke, but 21 years later it came true.

CONCLUSION

Tributes for Lasorda from contemporaries have been pouring in. For example:

  1. Longtime LA Times columnist, Jim Murray: “Some managers are worth five games a year to their franchise. … Tommy Lasorda is worth …. a few hundred thousand in attendance.”
  2. The LA Times opined that he had “achieved near mythical status among loyal Dodger fans.”
  3. Hall of Fame Dodgers announcer Vin Scully recalled his “boundless enthusiasm, his determination, his self-belief and his competitive spirit.”
  4. Commissioner Rob Manfred called him “one of the finest managers our game has ever known.

I actually met Lasorda a few times at Spring Training. I found him to be gracious and entertaining. Once, he signed a baseball for my grandson, Mason. The fans would always respond to him with love and enthusiasm as he did to them. There really was mutual love and admiration between them.

Lasorda passed away from a heart attack on January 7, 2021 at the age of 93. He was fond of saying that when he died he would be “going to the big Dodger in the sky.” Hopefully, he is there now, watching over his favorite team.

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE

Today, Wednesday, January 6, 2021 has been a day that Americans will not soon forget. Since the founding of the Republic over 240 years ago the primary characteristic that has distinguished us from all other countries has been that we are a nation of laws. We have this remarkable document called the Constitution, which reigns supreme. Whenever there has been disagreement among different factions we generally settle them with debate, not violence. We may disagree, but we generally treat the opposition with respect. If we don’t approve of a government representative or his policies we vote him or her out. We are not a “banana republic.” We are not Soviet Russia. We are better than that.

That is what made today’s events so disturbing. The sight on tv of hundreds of thousands of protestors gathering at the Capitol and some of them even breaching the Capitol, itself, was something I had never seen before and never thought I ever would. The crowd was mostly peaceful, but, some got violent, and tragically, one demonstrator was killed. The threat of additional violence was omnipresent. The situation was beyond embarrassing.

The House and Senate had been in session fulfilling their constitutional duty to certify the electors from the November election as required by Article 2 of the Constitution. They were in the midst of debating the merits of a challenge to the validity of the electors in some of the states. These challenges had been brought by a group of senators and representatives who were alleging election irregularities and fraud. They were forced to recess and shelter in place for their own protection, “subject to the recall of the Chair.” Additionally, Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Grassley, the VP, Speaker and President pro tempore, respectively, were sequestered in an undisclosed location. The Capitol, itself, was put on “lockdown.” As I write this Congress is back in session, and as Mitch McConnell said it will fulfill its duty and certify the chosen electors.

The genesis of the protests was that approximately 40% of voters are convinced that the 2020 presidential election was not free and fair. In their minds there is ample evidence that the election was “stolen” from Mr. Trump. Several examples of “irregularities,” if not outright fraud, have come to light since the election, which I have detailed in previous blogs. Many of these have been supported by affidavits, videotape, and eyewitness accounts. Trump and his supporters have been pursuing these in various venues, but have been thwarted at every turn. The Supreme Court has declined to even hear the case, not on the merits, but on the basis of lack of standing. To most people who are not constitutional lawyers, this distinction without a difference has only served to fuel the anger, frustration and the sense that they are being denied justice and fairness. Remember, our system of government only works if the people believe the elections are free and fair.

These people needed to vent their anger and frustration. In addition, they wanted to show their support for President Trump. I believe that Trump went a little overboard with respect to this protest. He encouraged his supporters to march on DC to demonstrate. Fair enough. That’s what Americans do. But, he went too far. He issued several tweets that served to inflame the situation. Moreover, he attacked several prominent GOP supporters who had always been in his corner, such as Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell. Thus, in a few short weeks he has destroyed much of the legacy he has built up in four years. At the moment, he looks like a spoiled, petulant child who is “acting out” because he did not get his way.

By vowing to “never concede” and continuing to insist that he really won the election he is doing what he criticized Hillary Clinton for doing after the 2016 election. He has taken this as far as he can. At this point, it is apparent he is not going to prevail in the courts or anywhere else. Further action will only lead to false hope. Now, he should concede graciously. He should thank his supporters for their loyalty and advise them to “stand down.”

The “fat lady” has sung. In another context the late Yogi Berra once intoned sagely that “it ain’t over ’till it’s over.” Well, sorry to say, it’s over.

CONCLUSION

All that said, let’s not forget about the 40%. Our government leaders have to deal with their feelings. They cannot just say, “the election’s over; forget it and move on; stop complaining; shut up and go sit in the corner.” People feel they are being victimized by a do-nothing Congress that once elected does not follow through on campaign promises, a corrupt, biased media that does not print the truth, and by autocratic tech oligarchs that censor social media postings arbitrarily. They are frightened by the pandemic and frustrated by their leaders’ response to it. Many of them have lost their jobs and their businesses and are at the end of their rope. Those same feelings of anger and frustration and sense that they are being ignored will not just go away. They will fester, and at some point they may explode again. I am reminded of the scene from the movie, Network, in which the lead character says he is “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” That feeling has to be dealt within some equitable and reasonable way. People need closure for what is bothering them. They need to feel that their leaders care about them and will protect them.

I remember that after the JFK assassination when a goodly portion of the people were convinced of a conspiracy the government sanctioned an independent investigation headed by Earl Warren, a much respected former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Warren Commission’s report helped tamp down the feelings of conspiracy (although not entirely). Something like that might help. Another suggestion would be a sincere attempt at meaningful election reform, so that at least people would have confidence in future elections.

There may be other good ideas out there. I will leave it to people smarter than me to deal with it. The one thing our leaders cannot do, however, is nothing. Unfortunately, though, doing nothing is something at which the government is very good.