Please Note: I know I said I'd be publishing cartoons all week, but this news popped up and I had to write about it. Cartoons will return tomorrow (I think).
Entering our fourth week of the State-by-State response to the Covid-19 outbreak, stunning news, even in this era of Trump fabulosity, emerged from Wisconsin. Knowing that any large gatherings of people is dangerous during the pandemic, the Republican-controlled legislature in Wisconsin approved a measure to conduct, rather than postpone their primary (and state Supreme Court) election on Tuesday, April 7th. Despite Democratic Governor Tony Evers attempt at postponing the voting until June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that in-person voting would be held and mail-in (absentee) ballots had to be postmarked by the 7th as well. When the Governor attempted to extend absentee voting until April 13th The United States Supreme Court:
split 5-4, with the five Republican-appointed justices siding with the national and state party to overturn a lower court ruling that expanded absentee voting. (ABC News, Wisconsin)
This is all in keeping with a national strategy by Republicans to suppress voting turn-out and it has been going on throughout the McConnell era, pre-dating Trump’s election. Nonetheless, the President himself recently commented on the strategy. Last week, as the “Democrats . . . pushed to mandate that states make plans to expand early voting and mail-in balloting for the fall election, in the event that the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person voting unsafe” the Republicans and the President demanded that such provisions be left out of the $2 Trillion-plus aid package (it is not “stimulus, as they would like you to believe --- it is relief). Trump and the Republicans cut this out of the new bill because --- and he stated --- it would have led to “levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” That’s right, voter turnout favors the Democrats so, rather than having a robust democracy, the Republicans are looking to hamstring any efforts at expanding voting rights (Voter “ID” laws, demands for “proof” of citizenship, etc.) As reported by local Milwaukee television station WTMJ-4:
If you're looking to vote in Wisconsin's spring primary, Milwaukee has five voting centers for Tuesday's election. Typically, there are 180 polling sites. There will also be five drop-off locations if you have already requested your absentee ballot.
That’s right, an urban area like Milwaukee, cannot open 180 polling places (often manned by senior citizens!) during a Pandemic because of Public Safety concerns. We know, of course, that urban areas tend to vote Democratic so the result is pre-ordained in favor of the Republicans, a maliciously callous move, even by their degraded standards. But perfectly in keeping with their Commander-in-Chief.
And while we’re on that subject, it’s interesting, isn’t it, how Trump seems to be mimicking some old Rolling Stones songs. Remember in the mid-Sixties, when the Stones sang, “ I Can’t Get No Satisfaction?” And remember how, by the late ‘60’s/early ‘70’s that morphed into “You Can’t Always Get What You Want?” Well, isn’t that similar to “I, alone, can fix it” becoming “I take no responsibility?” Remember, this is the man who said, on February 26th:
“And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
And then, on March 30th claimed:
“If we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000, that’s a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000 — so we have between 100- and 200,000 — we altogether have done a very good job,”
In what universe is between 100 and 200 thousand deaths a good job? And how, in one month, did he dance away from “close to zero” to 100,000 deaths being a good job?
If Trump didn’t have state-News on Fox, where dim-bulbs like Hannity did a similar about face (essentially telling the awestruck, gullible viewers: “Remember what I said about all this being a ‘Democrat hoax’ trying to get the President? Well, this is now a serious problem that our Great Leader has taken charge of. Don’t think about it. Forget what he said and I said a month ago, here’s your new reality.) he should have been removed from office already. His incompetence and arrogance are stunning. But now it is also lethal. His nightly “briefings,” in lieu of rallies, featuring crackpot theories (hydroxychloroquine --- promoted by Rudy Guiliani---and unproven to work against the virus) as well as his airing of petty grievances also show the President’s true colors. While he continues to defend his “perfect” phone call with Ukraine he almost immediately pivots to say that if Governors are not “nice” to him, he will withhold much needed emergency medical resources. We’ve heard him. It’s his Covid-pro-quo right out in the open --- just as he asked, “for a favor, though.”
The Crisis we are experiencing demands Leadership --- like the kind exhibited by Captain Brett Crozier on the USS Theodore Roosevelt as his sailors were becoming victims of the virus (which he has tested positive for now, too). But this petty Administration can only fire and dismiss people who tell the truth. In the Reality Show World of Donald J. Trump, where he is more consumed by “ratings” and “reviews,” and believes each day should pit him against an “enemy” (the “Fake News,” the Democrats --- particularly Pelosi & Schumer --- the “Elites,” etc.) that he can vanquish, we, the American people, are suffering from his short-sighted and ignorant malignant narcissism. Lives are on the Line! We are facing an existential crisis and this man falls short every single day. Yet, with Fox News and his mindless followers chanting together, we are watching this patchwork response to a National crisis.
Roger Ailes never wanted to see a conservative/right-wing President have to "suffer" the (deserved) Fate of Richard Nixon --- and that’s what spawned Fox News. Ailes, who was Nixon’s Television Production Political Consultant (after a stint working for Mike Douglas in 1967), believed that television --- particularly the televised Watergate Hearings --- did Nixon in. What he saw, in 1996 when Rupert Murdoch was starting Fox News, was an opportunity to ensure that no Republican/conservative/right-wing President would ever have to fall prey to that kind of public flogging --- because they would have their own propaganda machine to fight back. We know about Ailes’s penchant for hiring leggy blondes (and his #MeToo demise) as well as his hiring of poorly educated but opinionated hacks like Sean Hannity --- and we can see what it has wrought. We now have what H.L. Mencken (Maybe apocryphally but generally attributed to a column written on July 26, 1920 in Baltimore) said:
As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
And that does seem to be where we are. Stay home. Stay safe.