Wisconsin Embarrassed Over Senator Ron Johnson’s Election Stealing Plot

In 1787 Ben Franklin was leaving Independence Hall upon the conclusion of work at the Constitutional Convention when someone asked what had resulted from the months of work.

History records Franklin responding with “A republic, if you can keep it.”

That quip from what we all most certainly learned in our middle school years came to mind when hearing that Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson sought an avenue to undermine our electoral process and endanger our republic.

A top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson attempted to arrange a handoff of false, pro-Trump electors from the senator to Mike Pence just minutes before the then-vice president began to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

The aide, Sean Riley, told Pence’s legislative director Chris Hodgson that Johnson wanted to hand Pence lists of the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin for Pence to introduce during the counting of electoral votes that certified Joe Biden’s win. The attempt was revealed in text messages obtained by the Jan. 6 select committee during its fourth public hearing on Tuesday.

As Huffington Post strongly inferred in their reporting there is no way to not hold your nose when reading what was attempted when Donald Trump used every means possible to deny Joe Biden his duly elected office.

Trump’s team asked supporters to falsely claim that they were the electors who represented the states’ voters ― and to sign phony slates purportedly delivering Electoral College votes to Trump. The strategy sought to prevent Pence’s certification of the real Electoral College result on Jan. 6, 2021.

During its third hearing, the House committee investigating Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol that day unveiled the text messages between Riley and Hodgson and an additional message from a top Republican official.

In a Jan. 4 text, Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Mark Jefferson wrote: “Freaking trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the senate President.”

The revelation that Johnson tried to give Pence false ballots creates a clear link between the senator and the campaign to overturn the 2020 election. And it underscores the range of public and private ways that prominent Republicans supported Trump’s bid to defy voters and hold on to power while fueling the outrage that drove the assault on the Capitol.

Trump was rejecting the vote counts and also impugning the integrity of the process that our nation relies on for the peaceful transfer of power. Those actions were not only outlandish, but exceedingly un-democratic, and dangerous.

Johnson was aiding and abetting that absurd behavior by also working to subvert an election and seeking to undermine faith in the electoral process.

Throughout life many of us have political opinions, some of them strongly held. As history proves repeatedly such varying views and perspectives are what democracy requires to grow and strengthen. But what has been added in a larger dose to that mix over the past several years is out-and-out liars and demagogues in elected offices.

The platforms they are able to act from allowing for their distorted and harmful rhetoric to reach more people; some being unable to reason that everything a failed president or a headline-seeking senator says may not be true.

Johnson’s dangerous actions and continuing themes to the Republican base, which has proven to be easily deluded, have aided in creating a climate where a final and decisive outcome to the 2020 election in the minds of the GOP base is not possible. That is tremendously dangerous for our nation going forward.

To attempt at undermining a legally, and unambiguous victory for the winner of the election, is THY most damaging action of Trump’s term in office. It is the darkest skid mark of his presidency.

I understand that so much has occurred in the nation since summer 2015, but even so, try to take a step back and consider the audacity that was pointed out in the Jan. 6 hearing today. A sitting senator went out of his way to step on the rule of law, our political institutions, and the election processes of our nation.

To have the nation learn that a Wisconsin senator was involved in a plot that even James Patterson could not concoct with a straight face is more than we should have to endure. I am tired of being embarrassed repeatedly by the actions and words of Ron Johnson. I strongly suspect many of my fellow state residents concur.

The Jan. 6th House Committee is proving what happens when using the poorly informed citizenry for hyper-partisan purposes. The dagger that was placed at the heart of our republic was real and remains a continuing threat. That is why I remain so concerned about the overt messaging of continued lies and the undermining of our institutions which has become a theme among national Republicans.

The attempted subversion of our electoral system to meet Trump’s own twisted and deranged personal ends is precisely what dictators do when the voters say ENOUGH! This is what autocrats do when they feel they have nowhere to hide in the light of day or are unable to play by the rules and laws of normal society.

We do not, however, expect a Wisconsin senator to be a part of such diabolic plots. We simply must have both Wisconsin senators mindful of Franklin’s words from the 18th century.

What Might Founding Fathers Say About Trump’s Seditious Conspiracy?

Those who lived in the 1970s surely felt that Watergate was the granddaddy of all political scandals. After all, a vast array of illegal activity that led back to the White House and into the Oval Office resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Many people after following the 2-plus years of news reporting and committee hearings about Watergate understandably felt there was no way a more sinister and underhanded person could be president.

Over the past week, large segments of the nation have been watching the January 6th House Committee hearings. What we are witnessing being fleshed out with testimony and facts is nothing short of stunning. After all that we have endured over the past six years, it might seem impossible to be confronted with anything that sets one further back on their heels. Even though the framework of illegal and unconstitutional actions by Donald Trump and those around him has long been known, having a congressional committee detail the actions was still very hard to stomach.

The nation is learning about the insidious and seemingly ever-sprawling plot to commit a seditious conspiracy against the United States. A duly elected president was to be tossed aside like a burger wrapper and Trump was to be installed as an illegal one. James Patterson could not plot a more devastating drama.

But what struck me to my core was learning Trump was so desperate to retain power and authority that he stated Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be murdered by the bloodthirsty mob at our nation’s Capitol. The reason Trump felt that way, of course, was that Pence refused to go along with sedition.

There is no doubt when it comes to political chicanery and illegal activities Nixon was a mere piker compared to the outlandish and outrageous actions plotted and undertaken by Trump. It seems almost unfair to place Nixon and Trump into the same editorial cartoons, such as those now being published as we near the 50th anniversary of the famed break-in.

From the night of the November 2020 election, Trump knew that his hold on power was ebbing away, and when the final count from several states, including Wisconsin, was reported no question remained he had lost his bid for reelection.

But rather than accept the election returns from the balloting by his fellow citizens he instead chose to become the first president in the history of our country to dishonor the peaceful transfer of power.

I want to stay on that point for a minute. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would say if they could be made aware of these events and able to be interviewed?

What might President George Washington, a former general who relinquished his military command, and stepped away from an office he was twice elected to so a civilian could take the reins of power have to say? What might James Madison, who history calls the Father of the Constitution, have to say about the blatant power grab and attempted usurpation of what we know as Madisonian democracy?

Ben Franklin, a journalist and newspaper owner, would surely have another line of inquiry.

On the day of a Jan. 6th committee hearing, with much of the nation following events, Fox News spent 45 minutes detailing a surgical procedure for Ozzy Osborne. The dismantling of the very fabric of our democracy was being detailed by members of congress and a major news outlet felt there was no need to inform their viewers as to the dangers faced by the nation.

Franklin, doubtless with a pithy tone, would demand to know why a news operation would willingly deflect from a story that cuts to the essence of our democracy?

Much of our nation is discussing the damning headlines about the plots and attacks on the very foundation of our constitutional government. It is easy to get inundated with the latest breaking news about this story. As such, I would hope that at some point we can, as a nation, reflect on the ideals the Founders sought for the nation. It is glaringly clear why our constitutional guardrails can no longer just be taken for granted.

Supreme Court Hands Donald Trump Decisive Defeat

The January 6th Committee won today at the Supreme Court. But more importantly, the American people scored a solid victory at the Court, a win democracy truly required.

The Supreme Court soundly rejected Donald Trump’s request to block the release of some of his White House records to the congressional investigators seeking insight into the deadly and violent insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.

The order turned aside Trump’s request to block the record’s release while the case continues through the courts regarding his assertion of executive privilege. It means there is no legal obstacle to the release of the materials from the National Archives, and Trump’s lawyers have argued that would make the case moot.

There is one part to this story that I would have much enjoyed better understanding. The Court’s order did not provide insight into the reasoning that put Trump in his place. Only Justice Clarence Thomas made note of his dissent, but he did not offer any elaboration into this thought process. Nothing untoward should be taken from these outcomes as this was an emergency request that the Court processed.

But this does leave me with perhaps an esoteric question tonight. Is Justice Thomas the ultimate Federalist or what? With his siding with the idea that the Executive, even out of office(!), has the power to block Congressional oversight is simply more than I would argue, the Founders had in mind.

This issue, in my mind, was never and should have never become partisan. I firmly believe that the question for the Court was a critical one as it framed a (small d) democratic process question of great merit.

Weeks ago I had read Judge Patricia A. Millet; writing for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on this case and pulled it up again tonight. I offer what she said in light of Thomas’ action.

She wrote, “. . . .Under our Constitution, we have one president at a time.”

How then would a former president have the power of such a privilege as Trump asserted? Plainly put, there is no such power or right.

The Court ruled today correctly for the direct issue at hand, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, for the larger issue at hand, too.

And so it goes.

Republican Hubris Over Supreme Court Opening

The Republican partisan strike on the Supreme Court, and in so doing, the weaponizing of the judiciary, is most troubling. The words from Senate Majority Leader McConnell in 2016 that “people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme court justice” were discarded fast when raw power was unleashed. For those who are true conservatives the irony of Republican actions and their stated principles are obvious.

What is most concerning for those who care about the process of governing and the needs of the nation can be found in the data. That damn historical data!

Over the past 28 years–or to put that into the lingo of politicos–seven presidential election cycles–Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once. Yet those white men have appointed six of the nine justices.

That is troubling and dismaying but even more so when considering the additional component of the placement of a justice on the high court being done with a senate that has a minority of Democrats which account for about 15 million more Americans than the GOP majority.

That GOP majority will cast the votes for the conservative nominee against a vastly changing nation demographically, socially and culturally. Placing a dreadfully conservative jurist on the bench without regard for a living Constitution is a slap on the face of democracy. The nation is far removed from the baby factory that has been nominated as a jurist.

No other court nominee has been considered by the Senate this close to an election. It is folly and pure hubris for Republicans to think their actions now conforms to the needs of the nation, or in any way squares with what true conservatism espouses.

But then again today’s Republican Party is not about principles, it is all about power.

Trump And Total Authority, More Like Total Diarrhea Of The Mouth

During the past several decades the most absurd comment made by any president–even when out of office–came from Richard Nixon.  Speaking to David Frost in the famed interviews Nixon stated, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Over the past days, however, Nixon’s undemocratic statement has been replaced by a new anti-Madisonian democracy  outrage.   Trump stood before God and national reporters while stating this jaw-dropping line.

“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

Not so fast, Orange Mussolini!  I am 57, but my memory of civics from my youth still informs me that our power-sharing arrangement is found in the Constitution’s 10th  amendment where it makes clear that any power not specifically given to the federal government resides with the states.  Any move by Trump to step into his self-delusional role as even more of an autocratic figure, one he pines for on a regular basis, will be met with the fastest legal roadblocks that any judge has ever fashioned.

Over the past week I have been listening to law professors on NPR, and reading Op-Ed pieces on this subject.  Almost to a person, there is an agreement that the coronavirus pandemic, though without mercy, does not meet the criteria of a war.  Therefore the National Emergencies Act under which, the autocrat to be, declared an emergency does not grant unrestrained powers.

I had to smile (and yes, snicker) when even John Yoo, the infamous creator of the legal justification for the use of torture during the George W Bush administration voiced opposition to Trump’s statement.  He even stated the “federal system reserves the leading role over public health to state governors” and only “they will decide when the draconian policies will end.”

As for my husband and me, we can assure Trump he does not have total authority over anything in our lives.  We will abide by the guidance from experts, and will not mix again in society until it is safe.  His re-election and the national economy are not anywhere near the top of considerations when it comes to our health and well-being.

After researchers have found the antidote to COVID-19 I would hope they can next find one for the second most vexing problem in this nation.  That would be the verbal diarrhea Trump spews daily, as of late in front of the national press.

But then again the voters are going to toss his large butt out of the White House come November.  Trump dithered and failed to act with this pandemic, and as a result, voters are going to make his election loss of such a magnitude that it will rival impeachment when reporters sum up his life in their lead paragraphs.

And so it goes.

Wisconsin Economy Impaired Due To Trump’s Over-Reach In Executive Office

Not for the first time to I raise concerns about Donald Trump taking actions that are both unconstitutional and that also impair the well-being of our economy.

Today there are many news reports about the impact on Wisconsin’s economy from the actions Trump has taken to further construct his needless and racist wall on our southern border.  If one were to talk to the average state voter it would not be hard to find a solid majority who would disagree with Trump pulling money, that was not allocated by Congress, to do nothing more than play to his partisan whims.

Oshkosh Corp.’s military vehicle production, work that has sustained thousands of Wisconsin jobs in recent years, is poised to take a hit from a Defense Department plan to divert $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to build 177 miles of Trump’s Mexico border wall.

A first look at the proposal shows that $101 million will be moved from the production of Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs) that the Army has relied on to carry munitions and other critical supplies.

All who follow the news know there is not now, nor has there ever been, any rational reason to construct a wall.  Such a boondoggle is not worthy of one cent of taxpayer money.  By taking this action, which is aimed at the racist and xenophobic mouth-breathers in the Republican Party, underscores his total disregard for the law.

Once again we are witnessing his acting as if the Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.  He acts like this nation could be a dictatorship if only he stomps his feet and demands to have all power ceded in his direction.  It is imperative, for institutional reasons, that there be a massive and sustained pushback on this matter until it is reversed.

What has been most distressing to your blogger is that Trump thinks he can hold the country hostage for an expensive project because he cannot get congressional approval.  Recall he could not get the wall funding for this racist move while both houses of Congress were controlled by the Republican Party.  A party, it needs to be underscored, which has repeatedly proven its dismissive feelings about brown-skinned people.  If he could not get his funding when they had both chambers of Congress what, pray tell, does he think the chances are we will allow this to be done now?

Trump in the past did not add this funding measure to his budget bills.   Instead, he just dictated what he wanted with no debate and expects Congress and taxpayers to roll over.  The bottom line is that Trump must not be allowed to lie his way to a wall built with money not appropriated by Congress.  

It all comes down to not allowing Trump to further damage the nation.  We all have seen small children act out in department stores and we know what must be done.  The offending party has to be removed so as not to do further harm.  In regard to Trump, we must vote the little brat out of the White House and remove it from the national stage as we know he can not act in accordance with social norms.  Or legal ones!

Until then we need to raise hell about undermining the intent of Congress and the over-reach of the Executive Branch.

Three Years From Inauguration To Impeachment Trial

Three years ago today (1-20-20) Donald Trump took the oath of office and then proceeded to give an inaugural address that was the most caustic and bizarre from any of the ones given by his predecessors.  Starting in less than 24 hours of this post being written his impeachment trial begins in the United States Senate.

For all the constitutional strains that our nation has confronted, along with the attempted destruction of our institutional norms, we can say with some confidence that the checks and balances of our federal system is working.  The removal of Trump from office by the means afforded to congress through the Founders will not take place.   But the harsh unrelenting attention from the press and the voters does create tension for Trump and those who do his bidding by letting them know we are not going to ease off the gas pedal of oversight.  

Part of the reason so much chaos and confusion has been created by Trump is to make the sky hazy and less clear for the light of oversight to do its job.  Keeping his base under the illusion that what he says is accurate, and all that is presented as facts and reason by everyone else is nothing but ‘fake news’ is an awful way to operate from the White House.  The demographics of his base, however, show as to why this strategy has actually worked.

But for the rest of us, there are those pesky facts.  The actual statements that Trump has made either on a stage, press release, tweet, or when speaking off-the-cuff in front of a reporter.  The statements are on tape, in print, and not able to be refuted.

Trump has used lies and false statements more than any other person who has sat in the White House.  In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.

In other words, in a single year, the president said more than total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019.

As of Jan. 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims. Only 366 days to go — at least in this term.

The president added to his total on Sunday evening with more than 20 Trumpian claims — many old favorites — during a triumphant speech at the annual conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He incorrectly described trade agreements — suggesting Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and an agreement with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was “a $40 billion deal” — and also falsely asserted that “tough” farmers and ranchers were crying as he signed a repeal of Obama-era regulations. A video of the event shows no one crying.

As with so much that happens on a daily basis from Trump’s White House there is always a way to reach back into history to find a lesson.

I am reading a book about George Washington’s efforts to ready his army to fight the British in New York in 1776.  Over and over he stresses he wants men of character and wishes for virtue to be leading them as they conduct themselves in a large city–far different than the places most of the men hail from.  He knows the temptations they face, and in many cases, the lack of training they have for the mission to be faced.  But he wishes to see them have their internal character lead them onwards. 

How far different a man Washington was compared to Trump, an ego-driven shallow man, who now faces a trial in the United States Senate for abusing his office.  How far adrift we are from the men whose names are on the streets in my  Madison isthmus neighborhood, the signers of the Constitution.  Being a life-long history buff, at times talking about the Founding Fathers by their first names, and deeply wedded to a process in governing that demands for transparency and fairness, means what has happened over the past three years due to Trump is deeply troubling.

Walking my neighborhood each day with reminders of the people who gave so much to create a nation, and a way of making government operate is no small thing.  It may seem old-fashioned to convey such thoughts as we prepare for an impeachment trial.  Or it may be that we are at this place in our nation as we have forsaken virtue in those we elect to lead us.

And so it goes.

Trump Hopes To Nix Tax Returns Going Public

It was a good day for lawyers working for Donald Trump as they will be busy due to the attempt they are making at keeping Donald Trump’s tax returns from being made public.  Many have stated, with this blogger doing so since 2015, that some interesting answers will be discovered to some national issues when they become available.

What every other presidential nominee has done for decades when releasing tax returns was the very thing Trump refused to do.  Today Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to stop a prosecutor’s investigation of his personal finances, a bold assertion of presidential power that seeks a landmark decision from the nation’s highest court.

The Roberts Court does not want to become embroiled in what would be a historical moment that would test the court’s independence.  Or bungle into the Constitution’s separation-of-powers design.  Trump may not have read his civics books over the years, and care not a wit about his lasting image for the history books.  But each justice on the high court has studied at length constitutional law, and Roberts cares about the legacy of his stewardship of the court, and how it will be viewed by history.

If the court needs to interject itself it will be with the most narrow of rulings. Roberts does not wish to go down this road and look like a partisan institution.

For the republic’s well-being, when dealing with a president’s personal conduct and illegal behavior, we must not allow presidential immunity from criminal investigations to be placed above law and order.