Congressman Matt Gaetz Under Investigation

There seems to always be a handful of Washington politicians who I refer to as “peacocks.”  This is because while they strut and show their flashy feathers–they do little else.  Their primary motivation is to bring attention to themselves.  They never meet a TV camera or reporter they don’t like.

Matt Gaetz, who represents a big chuck of the Florida panhandle, is probably Washington’s number one peacock these days  He is loud and bombastic and on Fox News frequently.

However, he has lost some of the sheen from his feathers in the last couple of days as a number of news sources have revealed that he is under investigation by the Justice Department as to whether he had sexual relations with a 17-yer-old girl and paid for her to travel with him.

Gaetz is a Republican and one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters.  He has strongly supported Trump’s contention that last year’s election was stolen from him.

Rep. Liz Chaney of Wyoming is one of the Republican leaders in the House.  She voted in favor of impeaching Trump.  Seeing a chance to make headlines, Gaetz went to Wyoming to hold a rally against Chaney.  I saw some of this event where Gaetz told the crowd that while he had been in Wyoming only an hour, he knew more about the state than Chaney did.

It is of particular interest that this investigation began while Bill Barr, Trump’s Attorney General, was at Justice.

The Gaetz investigation is linked to an investigation of Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida.  Gaetz and Greenburg are friends.  Greenburg was indicted last June on several charges, one being sex trafficking. He resigned his office the next day.

Gaetz has denied the allegations and claims they are tied to a scheme to extort $25 million from his family.  He says that the extortion effort is led by Pensacola attorney David McGee, an associate of Beggs & Lane.  Gaetz implies that McGee is a former DOJ employee.

Beggs & Lane released a statement saying the Gaetz allegation is both “false and defamatory.”  It has also been pointed out that McGee worked for DOJ 25 years ago.

Apparently Gaetz is about to find out how few friends he actually has in Washington   In fact, according to Business Insider, a former Trump White House aide told them, “Good riddance.  It sounds like he let whatever BS power he thought he had go to his head and he thought himself above the law.”

Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News in an effort to defend himself.  Carlson called it, “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”

But wait.  It gets even more weird as Gaetz is dropping hints to associates that he has been talking to major cable news channels about leaving congress and going with them.  He says he has had discussions with Newsmax, OAN, Fox Business, Real America’s Voice and others.

But Fox News released a statement to the Daily Beast stating, “No one with any level of authority has had conversation with Matt Gaetz for any of our platforms and we have no interest in hiring him.”

It sounds like this is one peacock who may get his comeuppance and that not many folks in Washington will weep..

 

From Dixiecrat Until Today. The Evolution Of The Republican Party

The ONLY political office I have ever been elected to was a seat on the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee.  My name was on the ballot and I got the most votes.  (Out of the very few cast back then in the Republican primary.)  I lived in Birmingham.

But THAT Republican party was nothing like it is today.  The people I met were honestly interested in good government and putting forth candidates of integrity, conviction and who were trustworthy..  They were not the wackos we see too much of today.  No Ted Cruz, no Ron Johnson, no Marjorie Taylor Greene.  They were not trying to divide people and make fear and hate the main message of their campaigns for office.

So what happened?  Or did anything really?

In 1948, something called the States’ Rights Democratic Party came into being.  It was most commonly known as the Dixiecrat party.  Its followers were Democrats from the deep South who were upset that President Harry Truman ordered integration of the military in 1948 and was seen as friendly to civil rights issues of Black Americans.

This did not sit well with southerners who were staunch segregationists.  So the Dixiecrats were born.  Their presidential candidate was Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who became a Republican in 1964.  As Blacks got the right to vote and became politically involved, they flocked to the Democratic party.

“White flight” was not just about southern white’s response to school integration, it was also about the growth of the Republican party throughout Dixie.

Peggy Wallace Kennedy has written a fascinating and courageous book, The Broken Road, about her famous father, George C. Wallace. She makes it clear that she saw little difference in the political stances of her father in the 1960s and those of Donald Trump in 2016.

Listen to her “Daddy’s politics were more than just bombastic style.  The establishment and other politicians viewed him as a demagogue.  Nobody will buy what he is selling, they declared.  Just take a look at him.  Take him out of those Alabama backwoods’ and he’ll be finished.  That was a mistake.  And forty-four years later, disaffected voters responded similarly to
Trump.  They rebelled against the same intellectualism and paternalism that Daddy railed against..”

Daddy’s strategy of articulating and  mobilizing the grievances of the dispossessed would become one of the core strategies of the Thump campaign forty-four years later.  It was the politics of rage and fear.  It was resentment for no particular reason.  It was a tent revival in the dead of summer, slapping mosquitoes and singing “Amazing Grace” while the preacher was fooling around out back.”.

Strom Thurmond got 78 percent of the vote in the Alabama 1948 general election.  Republican Thomas Dewey only 19 percent.  In 2020 Donald Trump got 62 percent of the vote compared to Biden’s 37 percent.

So the case can certainly be made that the DNA of Alabama voters has not changed much since at least 1948 and the Republican party has morphed into the old Dixiecrat party.  Given that the majority of Alabamians are descendants of Scots-Irish, this is understandable.  In general, Scots-Irish who came to this country were fierce, violent and independent people.  They set their own rules and dared anyone to try and change them.

Their pride overruled common sense and permitted them to cast votes that were hurtful to their own well-being.

Look at Strom Thurmond in 1948.  Or better yet, look at Barry Goldwater in 1964.  Goldwater was a U.S. Senator from Arizona known for his “straight talk” and fiery rhetoric.  Just the kind of candidate that the Scots-Irish loved.  A candidate without a snow ball’s chance in Hell, but boy he could stir a Southern heart.  Just like Donald Trump could do.

Even though Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in the general election by the largest margin in history, he got 69 percent of the Alabama vote.  (Second only to Mississippi.)  Goldwater only won six states.  His Arizona home and Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.  Alabama also elected five Republicans to the national House of Representatives in 1964..

While the Dixiecrat party was then ancient history, Goldwater showed us that the Republican Party was fertile ground for right wing believers.  In fact, Goldwater’s conservatism, initially rejected as radical, infused the Republican’ Party.

If you don’t think so, then look at what just happened in Georgia where the Republican led legislature has passed new law about how elections should be conduced.. A law that makes it illegal to give someone waiting in line to vote a bottle of water.  No doubt Strom Thurmond would be elated.  And most of us have now seen the photo with the governor surrounded by six white male legislators as he signed the bill.

And just outside the governor’s closed door a Black female legislator was arrested and taken to jail for knocking on the door.

You got to give Trump credit for one thing.  He figured out that the Dixiecrat/Republicans were a festering wound.  All they needed was someone to come along and pull the scab off.  He obliged.

Ultimately national Republicans will have to realize that water fountains in downtown Atlanta and Birmingham are no longer labeled, “For whites only” and support policy that appeals to a much broader spectrum of  Americans than they do now.  If not, then they are only marking time until the day they end up where the Dixiecrats did.  On the outside looking in.

As to Alabama, the Dixiecrat/Republicans will probably be around for a long time, too often listening to the radical voices that tell them a long-ago world still exists and sending people to Washington who may have a vote–but no influence.

 

 

Follow Up To Attorney’s Bogus Claims About Election

We last reported on Sydney Powell, the attorney who is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion and the fact that her defense is that her claims were so outrageous that no sane person should have believed them.

This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard of.  And I’m not alone as the news has stunned media and other folks around the country.  Like me, they are in disbelief.

For more insight into this caper, here is one news report that goes into more detail.

And while this attorney has now admitted that she was lying through her teeth, what about the news reports on Fox that took her for her word in their 24/7 attempt to glorify Donald Trump?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to recant because Fox lawyers used the same defense for Tucker Carlson a year ago when he was sued for defamation.  In essence, they maintained that no one should take what Carlson says as the truth.

Don’t worry.  I don’t believe a damn thing he says.  And you have to ask, why in the world is this guy allowed to work for a :”news” network?  I’ll tell you why.  Because Fox is not a news channel.:

They are only about entertainment and seeing what they can do to rile sane folks up.  Fox is to news what professional wrestling is to the Olympics.  Nothing.

And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Stranger

Sidney Powell (female) is one of the attorneys who made headlines last November claiming that Donald Trump lost the election because of fraud.  She had some extremely harsh things to say about Dominion Voting Systems, a company very involved in the national vote count.

The company didn’t like it and filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell.

So Powell’s own attorneys have now put forth her defense.

Hold onto your hat because here is where it gets bizarre–even for Washington.

The lawyers are saying that Powell’s claims were so outlandish and untrue that anyone with half a brain should not have believed them and therefore Dominion could not be harmed.

In other words, if you holler “fire” in the movie and no one sees flames or smells smoke they should ignore you and stay in their seats.  And since they did this, you did nothing wrong.

So if you are going to tell a lie, make it a whooper, not a white lie.

However, while Powell is now claiming that her claims of fraud were untrue and without merit, Trump continues to push the narrative that his election was stolen.

I could write on the head of a pin what I know about being an attorney.  But I do know that somewhere in there is supposedly a call to be ethical.  And when someone like Sydney Powell knowingly lies to the public seems they have crossed an ethical line and should be disbarred.

Is it no wonder that so many of us just shake our head at the Washington circus and bemoan the fact that integrity and honor and truthfulness are ignored by so many who want us to refer to them as “leaders?”

Senator Rand Paul’s Hot Air

Rand Paul is Kentucky’s junior senator, having been elected in 2010.  He seems to take delight in being a contrarian.  Most recently one of his favorite targets has been Dr. Anthony Fauci who has risen to prominence during the virus pandemic.

This past week he challenged Fauci once again about wearing masks and told Fox News that Fauci was lying.  He also said Fauci is :unconcerned about “liberty” and is “wearing two masks for theater.”

Fauci countered on CBS that Paul is “dead wrong” about the need for masks.  Fauci added that, “he was saying if you’ve been infected, or you’ve been vaccinated, don’t wear a mask–which is completely against all public health tenets”.

Fauci is director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and has served in various public heath capacities for more than 50 years.  He has been an advisor to every president since Ronald Reagan.  President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the country.

Paul is an ophthalmologist with no experience with viruses or pandemics.  He ran for president in 2016 but abandoned his campaign after finishing fifth in the Iowa caucuses.

And when you look closely at his political career, you find things that raise concerns,

He has been known to flip flop on issues.  For instance, in his first senate campaign in 2010 he pledged in the primary to not take money from lobbyists.  However, he reversed course in the general election and claimed that his pledge only applied to the primary.  He raised eyebrows when he made contradicting statements about the Civil Rights  Act of  1964.

And in 2013 it was discovered that he had plagiarized the work of others a number of times in his speeches and writings.  In fact, the Washington Times stopped using his weekly columns because of this.

But here is my question for Senator Paul.  If you feel that wearing a mask is somehow anti-American, why don’t you go after seatbelts?

We are all supposed to wear seatbelts.  Buckling my seatbelt is a reflex for me.  I wear it all the time.  However, I have never had a wreck and my seatbelt has never saved me from bodily harm.  So all those thousands of times  I have worn it have been for naught.  But be that as it may, I will continue to buckle up.  Just as I will continue to wear a mask.

As for Senator Paul, I will pay no attention to his hot air.  When you portray someone else’s words as your own, the journalist in me immediately writes you off.

Covid & Politics

The New York Times has a very interesting article looking at the attitude of Democrats and Republicans to Covid-19.  After thorough review of polling data, they conclude that while Democrats tend to overplay the severity of the virus, Republicans’ tend to underplay it.

It is somewhat bizarre to me that a health crisis is being viewed through political lenses.  And you have to wonder if cancer, heart attacks, high blood pressure, etc. is viewed the same way.  My guess is that it isn’t.

But then, Donald Trump never told his supporters that cancer was a hoax, that it would disappear when warm weather arrived and promoted “cures” that the medical community disapproved of.

Since the vast majority of Alabama voters wanted Trump to remain as president and since Trump supporters are less likely to get vaccinated, does this mean Alabama will have a much harder time of reaching “herd immunity” than blue states?

Here is the article:

“Americans on the right half of the political spectrum have tended to underplay the risk of Covid-19. They have been less willing to wear masks or avoid indoor gatherings and have been more hesitant to get vaccinated.

These attitudes are part of a larger pattern in which American conservatives are often skeptical of public-health warnings from scientists — on climate change, air pollution, gun violence, school lunches and more. In the case of Covid, Republican politicians and media figures have encouraged risky behavior by making false statements about the virus.

To many liberals, Covid has become another example of the modern Republican Party’s hostility to facts and evidence. And that charge certainly has some truth to it. Yet the particular story with Covid is also more complicated — because conservatives aren’t the only ones misinterpreting scientific evidence in systematic ways. Americans on the left half of the political spectrum are doing it, too.

That’s a central finding from a survey of 35,000 Americans by Gallup and Franklin Templeton. It finds that both liberals and conservatives suffer from misperceptions about the pandemic — in opposite directions. “Republicans consistently underestimate risks, while Democrats consistently overestimate them,” Jonathan Rothwell, Gallup’s principal economist, and Sonal Desai, a Franklin Templeton executive, write.

More than one-third of Republican voters, for example, said that people without Covid symptoms could not spread the virus. Similar shares said that Covid was killing fewer people than either the seasonal flu or vehicle crashes. All of those beliefs are wrong, and badly so. Asymptomatic spread is a major source of transmission, and Covid has killed about 15 times more Americans than either the flu or vehicle crashes do in a typical year.

Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to exaggerate the severity of Covid. When asked how often Covid patients had to be hospitalized, a very large share of Democratic voters said that at least 20 percent did. The actual hospitalization rate is about 1 percent.

Democrats are also more likely to exaggerate Covid’s toll on young people and to believe that children account for a meaningful share of deaths. In reality, Americans under 18 account for only 0.04 percent of Covid deaths.

Republicans’ underestimation of Covid risks helps explain their resistance to wearing a mask — even though doing so could save their own life or that of a family member. And Democrats’ overestimation of risks explains why so many have accepted school closures — despite the damage being done to children, in lost learning, lost social connections and, in the case of poorer children, missed meals.

The states with the highest share of closed schools are all blue states: California, Oregon, Maryland, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada, Massachusetts and New Jersey. “I think in many ways it’s based on the fact that these voters are misinformed about the risks to young people and they’re misinformed about the risks generally,” Rothwell said.

The reasons for these ideological biases aren’t completely clear, but they are not shocking. Conservatives tend to be more hostile to behavior restrictions and to scientific research. And liberals sometimes overreact to social problems. (A classic example was the overpopulation scare of the 1960s and ’70s, when people on the left wrongly predicted that the world would run out of food.)

Covid, of course, represents a real crisis, one that has already killed more than a half-million Americans and continues to kill more than 1,000 per day. As in the case of many crises, underreaction has been the bigger problem with Covid — but it has not been the only problem.

Perhaps the best news from the Gallup survey was that some people were willing to revisit their beliefs when given new information. Republicans took the pandemic more seriously after being told that the number of new cases was rising, and Democrats were more favorable to in-person schooling after hearing that the American Academy of Pediatrics supports it.
“That’s very encouraging,” Rothwell told me. “It’s discouraging that people didn’t already know it.”