FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2021
On Fox, Cheney gets it right: No one seems to think that Donald J, Trump will be "convicted" in his Senate impeachment "trial."
That said, there's still a source of hope for those of us here in Our Town. Last night, Rachel Maddow interview Fani Willis.
We haven't watched the interview yet. Last night, our cable provider pulled one of its all-too-frequent overnight turn-offs shortly after midnight Eastern, just as we sat to watch the rebroadcast of Maddow's program.
This morning, through the miracle of On Demand, we watched a bit of Maddow's lead-in to the interview. Our youthful analysts screamed in pain when they spotted the program's chyron:
ONE PROSECUTION RESTS. [ANOTHER JUST GETTING STARTED...]
That's what the chyron said.
Yesterday, in the Senate trial, the House managers ended their presentation with little hope of attaining conviction. Still and all, there was reason for hope! Down in Atlanta, Willis has started a criminal probe of Commander Trump's telephone call!
At this site, we're favorably disposed toward Willis, the new Fulton County D.A. We base that preliminary assessment on this recent news report, in which we learned that Willis has decided to move the trial of several Atlanta police officers out of her office.
She based her decision on the corruption of her predecessor, Paul Howard, the D.A. who had found a way to charge two officers in the shooting death of the late Rayshard Brooks—not just the one who actually shot Brooks as he fled from a Wendy's parking lot after assaulting the officers.
Here in Our Town, we weren't told much about Howard's corruption at the time of that incident. We didn't spend a lot of time wondering why Howard had charged both officers—why he charged the officer who didn't shoot Brooks (didn't shoot his gun at all!) along with the one who did.
We weren't aske to wonder about the possible corruption involved in that particular act. It doesn't work that way in Our Town when we get a snootful and start to posture about matters involving race.
We took it as a good sign when Willis announced that she was moving the prosecution out of her office. Beyond that, we were glad to see her discussing Howard's corruption. (She had run against him on that basis, in the winning campaign last year which made her the current D.A.)
Needless to say, Willis was on the Maddow Show for a different reason. She's now probing Donald J. Trump's phone call to Brad Raffensperger, the phone call in which the embattled commander-in-chief tried to persuade Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to change the outcome of the Georgia presidential contest.
Did Trump commit a crime that day? Everything is possible, though most things are highly unlikely. At any rate, that's the question Willis is now probing—and through skillful editing of information, the leading tribunes in Our Town are helping us feel sure, oh so sure, that Trump surely did.
Our tribunes have been selling us this popular product over the past four years. The commander is always about to be jailed, according to these skilled salespersons. We're always prepared to believe them.
In all honesty, we just aren't super bright here in Our Town. Also, we're strongly attracted to prosecution and punishment as the way to solve tribal disputes.
Our war-inclined species has always displayed such instincts. According to leading anthropologists, we're still primitive and prehistoric in these hard-wired ways.
Oddly enough, it was Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) who offered a different prescription at the start of the week. Cheney appeared on Fox News Sunday, where she spoke with the very non-Trumpy Chris Wallace.
Cheney appeared on Fox News Sunday. In Monday morning's editions, the New York Times reported what she said:
FANDOS (2/8/21): “The notion that the election had been stolen or that the election was rigged was a lie, and people need to understand that,” Ms. Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We need to make sure that we as Republicans are the party of truth, and that we are being honest about what really did happen in 2020 so we actually have a chance to win in 2022 and win the White House back in 2024.”
Ms. Cheney said on Sunday that she would not resign [from her House seat] and suggested that Republicans in her home state continued to be fed misinformation about what had taken place. It came a few days after she privately rebuffed a request by the House Republican leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, to apologize to her conference for how she handled herself around the impeachment vote, according to two people familiar with the exchange, which was first reported on Sunday by Axios.
“People in the party are mistaken,” she said on Fox News of the Jan. 6 attack, which, together with nearby protests, killed five people, including a Capitol Police officer. Referring to the Black Lives Matter movement, she added: “They believe that B.L.M. and antifa were behind what happened here at the Capitol. That’s just simply not the case, it’s not true, and we’re going to have a lot of work we have to do.”
Cheney had voted in favor of impeachment—but good lord! In these remarks, she identified misinformation and false belief as a principle problem to be addressed.
Our side rarely thinks that way. We aim to punish, full stop.
A large modern nation can't hope to function under our current arrangements—under a cultural system in which misinformation and disinformation constitute very big business and generate very big profits.
The Trump presidency has made a surprising point abundantly clear—you can get large numbers of people to believe almost any damn-fool thing you want. That fact was proven by President Trump, but also—perhaps to a lesser extent—by the corporate multimillionaires who toy with our own small brains each evening on "cable news."
Last night, Maddow was dreaming again of Locking Him Up. Over the years, it has become surprisingly clear: Only when she's dreaming such dreams can this grinning corporate foundling ever be fully happy.
In Our Town, we long to punish The Others. It rarely occurs to us that we need to find ways to persuade.
How clueless can we be when we actually try to persuade? Consider what happened at the start of yesterday's Senate trial.
Rep. DiGette (D-Colorado) spent an hour telling us what the rioters thought on January 6, or at least what they say they thought. They thought they'd been told to invade the Capitol by President Donald J. Trump!
In adopting this stance, DiGette was reporting the impressions of the dumbest known humans on Earth. To be perfectly honest, she was sharing statements from people who are just astoundingly dumb. (We almost never say "stupid.")
It wasn't until the day's second hour that the House managers began to share assessments which came from high-profile Republican officials who had served under Donald J. Trump. Only after an hour of nonsense were we allowed to hear such remarks as these, courtesy of Rep. Lieu (D-California):
LIEU (2/11/21): Former members of the Trump administration, longstanding Republicans, also made clear that President Trump incited this insurrection and it went against our democracy.
The president’s former Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared that, “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump.” Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also spoke on this as well. And I’d like to play an audio clip of what he said.
KELLY (audiotape): What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.
As he continued, Lieu reported devastating assessments of Trump's responsibility for the riot—devastating assessments from the lips of John Bolton, H.R. McMaster and Mick Mulvaney, among others.
These were ranking members of Trump's inner circle. They were people who had worked closely with Trump, had observed his behavior close up.
They'd offered devastating assessments—but their assessments were presented in yesterday's second hour. During the day's first hour, senators and citizens were asked to listen as DiGette droned on, reporting the stated assessments of the planet's dumbest known humans—of people who thought they could tell Capitol police that they should be allowed to enter the Capitol because they'd been sent by their president!
The analysts groaned and covered their ears as DiGette droned on. In fairness to DiGette, the House managers had presumably chosen this cockeyed order of business as a group.
In fairness, it's highly unlikely that Republican senators were ever going to vote for conviction. But DiGette's presentation gave them the perfect way to dismiss the whole prosecution as the work of a ship of fools.
Who cares what the world's dumbest people claim they thought they'd been told? The analysts pictured Republican senators sighing and rolling their eyes, feeling fully justified in their refusal to listen.
We've always claimed, here in Our Town, that we are the very good, very bright people. Viewers are told a different story on Fox, and we often supply the ammunition.
In fact, we're humans here, just like everyone else—and at times of tribal division, our species has always been strongly inclined to find ways to march off to war. We cast about for ways to punish The Others. We rarely search for ways to persuade deplorable people like Them.
We have to combat the misinformation, Cheney seems to have said. You'll see Rachel embrace that approach when the cow jumps over the moon, then builds a rocket ship to being it safely home.
We humans are wired to march off to war—to prosecute and to punish, to lock The Others up. We hope Fani Willis will show good judgment.
More on Atlanta to come.