Mark Sumner

Josh Hawley planned a Florida fundraiser to fatten his PAC. It's definitely not going well

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley always wanted national attention, and he's certainly been in the spotlight over the last two weeks. However, being the poster boy for supporting a deadly insurgency in which violent white nationalists attempted to overthrow the government of the United States is probably not what he was looking for. Probably. Because in a far-too-large segment of the Republican Party, cheering on extremists out to kill members of Congress is a good thing.

Rather than resign, as pundits, billboards, and newspapers across Missouri (and the nation) have been demanding, Hawley has been trying to take advantage of this moment in the way that's typical of a Republican caught doing something utterly vile. He's fundraising. In addition to sending out email solicitations on the same day his white nationalist pals stormed the Capitol, Hawley lined up a winter getaway to Florida. There ,Republican snowbirds could kick back for what Hawley described as a "family friendly" bit of fascism, all for the low, low price of $5,000 for his unlimited PAC.

But it looks like Hawley is going to have to reschedule, or at least relocate. Because the announced site of this shindig has taken Senator Sedition to the shed.

The intended site of Hawley's gathering was the Orlando Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.


But when several people sent word to Loews, making it clear exactly what this gathering was about, the hotel chain had an immediate response.

"Horrified and opposed to" is exactly the attitude everyone should have about Josh Hawley.

These Republican representatives are accused of helping to plan January 6 insurrection

It's obvious that many Republicans—including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in the Senate, and dozens in the House, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy—actively inflamed Donald Trump's white supremacist mob and encouraged their deadly assault on the Capitol. However, it now seems that some Republicans in Congress may have done more than knowingly fan the flames. In the days since the rotunda was cleared of debris and the halls were cleaned of the literal human excrement smeared there by Trump's biggest fans, information has appeared that indicates some Republicans may have actively been involved in planning or carrying out the assault.

On Tuesday evening, Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill conducted a Facebook live session for her constituents during which explained her support resulting in calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. During that webcast, Sherrill made an astounding accusation. She claimed to have witnessed Republican members of Congress leading Trump supporters on, not a tour, but a "reconnaissance" of the Capitol. "We can't have a democracy," said Sherrill, "if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results."

As reported by USA Today's, Sherrill's accusation was as astounding as it was direct.

“Not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn't have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5—a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress."

Sherrill has not so far detailed what she means by this reconnaissance, or given names of Republicans who were involved. However, it's become increasingly clear in the days since the insurrection that the situation at the Capitol was much more dire than was originally reported.
The accusations of involvement by Republican members of Congress aren't just coming from Democrats, they're coming from those who were involved in the assault.

As The Washington Post reports, Ali Alexander, the right-wing activist who formed the "Stop the Steal" movement, did so with the help of three Republican members of Congress: Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar. "We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting," said Alexander. Biggs' staff has denied any contact with Alexander—but the involvement of all three Republicans is certainly worthy of investigation.

Completely disowning Alexander's claims could be difficult. He and Gosar appeared together at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Phoenix on December 19. At that same rally, Alexander played a recorded message from Biggs, who he described as a "friend." In both the live and recorded messages, Gosar and Biggs singled out January 6 for action.

Gosar would go on to promote other "Stop the Steal" events more than a dozen times, as well as pumping out tweets and emails promoting the January 6 gathering in D.C. Typical of Gosar's statements was an op-ed on the site Revolver, Gosar called simply counting the legal electoral vote a "Third World coup d'etat." According to Gosar, Biden's win involved "statistically impossible" spikes in the voting and "We will not tolerate this." Far from distancing himself from Alexander's group, Gosar claimed ownership. "As many of you know, I helped organize the very first 'Stop the Steal' rally," he wrote. "… Patriotic warriors joined together to gather evidence and tell the Left we will not accept a coup and a usurper in the White House."

All three Republicans continued to be involved in "Stop the Steal." As The New York Times reports, In the hours immediately before the assault on the Capitol, Brooks addressed the "Stop the Steal" rally in D.C. "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," said Brooks. "Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?"

Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks are far from the only Republicans connected to Alexander's group, or the only ones who both inflamed Trump supporters through lies about the election and demands to attend the January 6 event.

On December 30, Alexander tweeted what would happen if Congress voted to approve the count of the Electoral College vote. "If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building. 1776 is always an option." The use of "1776" appeared in a number of statements from hard-line Trump representatives right up to the insurrection. Both Q-supporting Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert directly called the insurrection an "1776 moment."

On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared some of her Republican colleagues would not only open the doors to rioters, but direct them straight to her. "I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die," she said. "I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive." According to Ocasio-Cortez, she can't go into specifics because of security concerns. But it's clear there were very good reasons to be concerned. And it's clear that multiple Republicans in both the House and Senate did more than enough to justify removing them from the halls of Congress. In fact, several of them may well deserve a new office—in very small room surrounded by bars.

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 · 9:27:10 AM Eastern Standard Time · Mark Sumner

Los Angeles telling ambulance drivers 'not to transport' patients likely to die as pandemic worsens

With an even more contagious strain of COVID-19 spreading rapidly, the U.K. has announced a third round of lockdowns that involve some of the strictest measures taken so far. The national lockdown and stay-at-home order has tight restrictions on who is allowed to leave home to work, and what other activities can take place outside the home. All schools are to remain closed or online, except for schools set up to handle the children of critical workers.

The new, rapidly spreading strain added just under 59,000 new cases in the U.K. on Monday, which is more than double where that nation was a month ago. However, it's still only a fraction of the new cases still appearing each day in the United States where the new restrictions include … nothing at all. With Donald Trump focused 100% on holding onto power by spreading lies about election fraud, there have been no new federal guidelines, no public announcements from the coronavirus task force, and no sign that anything is being done to address the obvious shortcomings of the vaccine distribution system. Meanwhile, American schools are attempting to reopen following the surge, on surge, on surge holidays, and finding they have a problem—so many teachers are sick classes can't be held.

And in Los Angeles, ambulance drivers are being forced to engage in triage, leaving those with little chance to die at home.

As The Atlantic reports, for many school districts the question of reopening schools in person is no longer a question. Because there is no one available to staff the classrooms. The shortage isn't happening because unions are adding rules designed to enhance teacher safety, or because teachers are staging any kind of protest against working during the pandemic. It's happening because there are simply too many teachers who are either sick, or are in quarantine. And school districts are finding that COVID-19 spreads more quickly than they are able to find replacements.

But the decisions that school districts are making seem almost simple next to the burden now being placed on ambulance drivers in Los Angeles. With hospitals there so full that patients are being treated in the gift shops, the bar for being admitted to the ICU and to ordinary patient rooms has been raised higher and higher. Many patients who would have been admitted a month ago, are being sent home—even if that means they will soon be back in worse condition—because there is neither space nor resources to treat them. Ambulances have also been under a crunch, as the number of units available is simply not enough to meet the sudden spike in demand. Patients are either waiting hours for a ride, or waiting hours at the hospital when they arrive.

Now those hospitals are taking it one step further. As CNN reports, the EMTs and paramedics in the area's ambulances are being asked to practice triage on patients even before they arrive at the hospital. They're being told "not to transport" patients with little chance of survival. That's not just COVID-19 patients, but those involved in accidents or suffering heart attacks. An injury or illness that might have been treated before Christmas is now fatal, because the hospitals have few options. Similar steps were taken in New York last April, when the initial surge of cases overran facilities there.

The Los Angeles Times reported that hospital crews have also been ordered to "cut back on the use of oxygen." Even though oxygen can be generated by concentrating it from the air, the demand has been so high that supplies are critically short. Ambulances and emergency rooms are now providing oxygen only to those whose saturation level has fallen below 90%.

As the COVID-19 Tracking Project reports, Los Angeles isn't the only place in immediate trouble. With hospitalizations up across the nation, it's the South that's seeing both the largest surge of new cases and the biggest growth in hospitalization. States like Texas have surpassed the worst numbers of the summer surge in that region. So has Arizona.

At the moment, it's difficult to see just how many cases are really coming in. That's because lapses in reporting over the holidays and a general decrease in testing have resulted in rates of positive tests above 20% in at least a dozen states.

Among those states is Tennessee, where Republican Gov. Bill Lee has announced his very own, very special means of dealing with the pandemic. Rather than planning vaccination events or upping the amount of testing to drop the number below a currently abysmal 25% positive, Lee is instead putting the state in charge of … prayers. He will regularly be dispatching new topics for citizens so they can help in "praying for the needs we face in 2021 surrounding COVID-19."

Here's why Republicans have to pay a price for supporting Trump's coup

On Tuesday morning, Republicans in Pennsylvania refused to seat a Democratic state senator because his Republican opponent would not concede. The vote has been counted. It's been recounted. It's been certified. It's stood up to numerous court challenges. Still, Republicans decided to leave the citizens of the 45th district without a senator rather than swear in the certified winner, simply on the basis that his Republican opponent still claims to have won.

Sound familiar? Donald Trump has demonstrated for Republicans that all traditions, regulations, and even laws are only meaningful if someone enforces them. And that when you have the power … there are no laws. On Wednesday, Republicans will execute what is, hopefully, the final move in their series of attempts to illegally hold onto power following Trump's election loss in 2020.

There seems little doubt that they will lose. But there has to be zero doubt that there will be punishment.

Imagine a bank. Now imagine a bank robber. One night, that robber tries to pick the lock on the bank and is caught, but … he's let go. The next night he throws a rock through the bank's window and is caught, but he's let go. The next day he's back with an attempt to bribe the security guard. The day after that it's a threatening note to the teller. The next day he has some hired muscle. The next day, something else. So long as the bank robber is certain that he can attempt to get at the contents of the bank day after day with no consequence, he will. And because there is no consequence to the attempts, the outcome is certain: One day, the robber will walk away with the money.

That's where we are now, not just with Donald Trump, but with the whole of the Republican Party. It's been almost exactly a year since Republicans in the Senate made it clear to Trump they would use their power to back his power, assuring him there would be no consequences for his actions in Ukraine. The perfectly predictable Susan Collins followed this event by going on national TV to announce that she believed Trump had learned his lesson. She was absolutely right.

And it wasn't only Trump. This has been a mutual learning experience, one that reinforced everything they had learned before.

After all, when William Barr was attorney general under George H. W. Bush, he showed how that position would be used to absolve White House staffers of serious crimes. When Newt Gingrich took control of the House, he showed how tradition and procedure in that chamber could be used to turn it into an engine for hate and disinformation. When Mitch McConnell laid hold of the Senate, he demonstrated how the most slender majority could simultaneously ruin the legislative branch while stacking the judiciary. Finally, Trump has built on the real legacy of Ronald Reagan—running roughshod over the law; dividing the nation for both power and profit.

In the 2020 elections, Trump used false claims of election fraud to arrange a $500 million personal windfall of funds from his supporters, while spending a trivial amount on recounts he knew wouldn't work, and court cases he knew would fail. The real action was behind the scenes. That's where Trump was making calls like the one he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and which Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman confirms have also been made to Republican officials in that state.

Fetterman also serves as a good example of what happens when officials refuse to go along with a coup in progress. On Tuesday, Republicans simply voted to remove Fetterman from his constitutional role presiding over the Senate. When Fetterman refused to accept this or surrender the podium, they simply stood someone else up beside him. The Republicans then proceeded to swear in every Republican state senator, and refused to swear in the Democratic senators until the—again, duly elected and certified winner—for the 45th district was removed from the room. Fetterman was left a bystander to events, with his attempts to uphold both tradition and the law waved away by men who realize that power trumps both.

It's possible, even likely, that on Wednesday the Republicans pushing Trump's conspiracy theories and disinformation will burn their allotted time, sit down, and then Mike Pence will reluctantly read the results of the Electoral College and declare Joe Biden the winner. It's also possible, considering Pence's spine of purest clay, that he will refuse to read the results, or play some other game suggested by the likes of Louie Gohmert, forcing the Supreme Court to make an ugly end to what should have been a simple, ceremonial event.

But one thing is certain: If there are no consequences to this attempt at daylight robbery, they will be back again. With dynamite. There has to be punishment, punishment both swift and sure, or the outcome of this fight is a foregone conclusion.

Louie Gohmert makes open call for violence as 11 more Republican senators sign on to sedition plan

At this point, Republicans might as well just open fire on Fort Sumter and be done with it. That's the only way they could show more evidence of their "patriotism" and love for the Constitution. The only question is: Who's going to be first? The whole right-of-center portion of the American political spectrum has fallen into a system where the selective pressure is all about being the most outrageous, the most extreme, the most willing to trample all the meaning of the American system into the mud while waving the symbols of that system overhead. It's not a race to the bottom, because there is no bottom. But there is a point of no return, and Republicans have gone way, way past that point.

On Saturday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz set out to prove just that when he arranged a whole legion of Republican senators who intend to "reject the electors" from certain states. "Certain," in this case, means those states that didn't vote for Donald Trump. But Cruz's play to regain some of that sweet Traitor Energy that's been going to Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley isn't even the slimiest play of the day.

Because after losing in court, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert is flat out calling for people to commit violence to overthrow democracy.

No matter how it was painted in the media, when Sen. Hawley spoke out last week to say he would join 140 Republican members of the House in signing a statement against counting votes from Pennsylvania, it was very obviously a publicity stunt. Not only is there no real foundation behind any of the claims that Trump has made in court concerning the elections in states that had the sense to turn away his reelection, it wouldn't really matter if there was. Because the 1887 Electoral Count Act presents only a very narrow window for challenges to the electoral vote. With all 50 states certifying their elections and sending a single slate of electors to vote before the "safe harbor" date, there are no remaining grounds under the law for Hawley, Cruz, or anyone else to challenge the states. The 1887 law makes it clear that the power of the Congress is "limited to cases in which a state had failed to settle its own disputes and to questions beyond state competence."

The law was written that way to protect one of those things that Republicans claim to care so much about: state's rights. Not surprisingly, a senator from Missouri is not given the power to invalidate all the votes in Pennsylvania when that state's governor and legislature have already certified the outcome.

None of that stopped Cruz from jumping forward on Saturday with a whole coalition of Republican senators who say they will vote to "reject the electors," even though that's no more in their power than it is to determine how elections in other states will be conducted. This new mob of Republicans willing to go there issued a statement (deliberately not linked) saying that Trump's concerns about then election never got a hearing in court. Which is wrong at least … what, 60 times now?

Again, as much as Cruz wanted to prove that he was more radical than Hawley, and win back the "love" of Trump supporters, he didn't even score the most outrageous action of the day. That's because on Friday evening, Trump-appointed District judge Jeremy Kernodle tossed Gohmert's "breathtaking and preposterous" lawsuit—in which he tried to claim that the 12th Amendment gave outgoing Vice President Mike Pence the sole and unlimited power to name anyone president that he wants on Jan. 6. That ruling, unfortunately, was on the basis of standing and leaves the case open for appeal, which Gohmert is of course already planning.

Meanwhile, a little thing like the American legal system is not about to get in Gohmert's way. As Rolling Stone reports, the Texas representative appeared on the Trump-worshiping Newsmax Saturday morning to tell people not to wait on the courts. The district court's refusal to consider the case means, accourding to Gohmert, "that you gotta go the streets and be as violent as antifa and BLM."

Of course, BLM and anti-facists don't go around instigating violence. But considering Trump supporters have been fed one false claim after another, after another, there's little doubt about the kind of violence Gohmert is demanding. Just as there's no doubt about what Trump means when he summons his Proud Bois and militias, calling them to Washington on Jan. 6 for a "wild" time.

Trump is summoning supporters for a 'wild' time on the day the electoral vote will be finalized

On Jan. 6, Mike Pence is scheduled to sit down in front of the Senate in his role as president of that body. Pence will open up the box of votes. Then Joe Biden officially wins. It's an absolutely ceremonial role, defined under the Twelfth Amendment in these terms:

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;-The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President.

Despite the lawsuit filed by … sigh … Louie Gohmert, there is absolutely nothing in this amendment to suggest that Pence has a choice about opening that box, or any agency in determining what states get counted. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 only serves to underline this fact. Meanwhile, outside the doors of the Senate, Donald Trump has declared that the Wild Rumpus must begin! And really, there is no doubt that he is king of the monsters. What's concerning is that Trump has spent weeks urging his supporters to come to Washington on that date for a protest that he insists will be "wild" and is definitely yet another swing at defeating democracy.

It's recently become clear that some people who have had COVID-19 emerge from the disease with severe psychosis. But it's hard to blame Trump's actions on the virus. He was always this way.

As Rachael Maddow notes at MSNBC, Trump hasn't made it clear exactly what he expects when he gathers together every white supremacist Proud Boy, every Hawaiian shirt wearing Boogalooer, and every other variety of neo-Nazi in one place. But Washington insiders are worried that Trump is leaning into the suggestion by disgraced former general Michael Flynn that he dust off the Insurrection Act, declare a national emergency, and order up a revote until the states he doesn't like get it right.

As CNN reported back on Dec. 20, even Trump's own staff is worried that he's taking Flynn's nonsensical suggestion too seriously. And as the last of the equally ridiculous lawsuits and challenges in state and federal courts fizzle out, getting Pence to simply not count the votes seems like the only move left in the Subverting Democracy Handbook. After all, nothing says peaceful transition like an outgoing executive encouraging armed insurrectionists to mass around the capitol for a "wild" time.

The "March for Trump" website (deliberately not linked) is calling for a cross-country bus trip that touches such sacred spots as the Alamo and Trump's wall. They'll also be driving across Georgia. But even though they have their bus route planned out and press conferences scheduled along the way, the main event in Washington, D.C. remains to be described. The best the site can give is "details coming soon." That may be in part because the group behind the protest still doesn't have an approved permit. The group "Women for America First" had originally scheduled their members to interfere with Biden's inauguration before amending their request based on Trump's out-of-the-blue tweet about the wild protest on Jan. 6.

It's unclear just how many people will show up for Trump's latest gig. An attempt to gather the faithful on Nov. 14 brought only about 10,000 people to town—making Kayleigh McEnany an even bigger liar than Sean Spicer. It's quite possible that the only thing wild about this event is how wildly McEnany has to lie to make it seem as if there are still people who care enough to come when Trump calls. On the other hand, if Pence is only looking for an excuse, a single busload of Trump supporters will probably serve as well as thousands.

With no information about what Trump has planned for Jan. 6, it's hard to see where on the scale of "Hamberders for all!" to "Burn it down! Burn it all down!" this event can be expected to fall. All that can be said for sure is that Trump intends this event to threaten the completion of the election process, and that it's not too late for those attending to work on their costumes


Trump considering Sidney Powell as very special counsel to investigate 'election fraud'

Back on November 23, Donald Trump disowned lawyer Sidney Powell after she went into a prolonged rant about how machines built by Dominion Voting Systems were designed to help ensure that long dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez never lost an election. Powell accused Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger of being involved in a kickback scheme that sold out the vote for cash, and claimed that voting machines were sending information to a server in Germany.

Powell has followed up this session with claims that "dead people voted in massive numbers," and sought special protection for what she claimed was information from a secret military official code-named "Spyder" (who turned out to be a 40-something IT guy from Dallas who was definitely did not have the intelligence clearing Powell claimed). All of this has resulting in rulings like the one from Michigan, where the state noted that Powell was engaging in "fantastical conspiracy theories" from the "fact-free outer reaches of the Internet." A federal judge ruled that Powell's lawsuit was an "amalgamation of theories, conjecture, and speculation."

Naturally, Trump likes what he sees. And wants to make Powell a special counsel to make nonsense claims about the election from now until infinity.

To be clear, Donald Trump does not have the authority to appoint special counsels. That responsibility lies with the attorney general. William Barr has already created one such position when he made John Durham a special counsel for looking into the Russia investigation at the end of November. With Barr departing, it may fall to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to rubber stamp Trump's requests for sowing land mines all over Capitol Hill. Trump wants special counsels not just to look into the election he lost by over 7 million votes, but also to continue following conspiracy theories centered on Hunter Biden.

Should Rosen prove unexpectedly reluctant to give Trump everything he wants, Trump is said to be looking at whether he can just appoint a special counsel himself. No, that's not in the law, but since Republicans have made it explicitly clear that Trump can do anything he wants, and the majority of House Republicans just signed onto an attempt to overthrow the government … sure. Why not?

Now The New York Times is reporting that Trump met with Powell in the White House on Friday, to discuss whether she's the right person to continue generating lies, damn lies, and really huge f__king lies about the election ad infinitum. Sure, Powell's lawsuits have been laughed out, kicked out, or tossed out of every court at every level. But having either facts or the law on her side wouldn't really matter for Special Counsel Sidney Powell. She could just take her "kraken," change a few words in the header, and hand it over as a "report of findings." That way Republicans in Congress, and commentators on Fox News, could report election fraud lies as "proven" for the rest of ever.

The meeting to discuss naming Powell to this position supposedly became "raucous" as other members of the White House staff "opposed the idea." Which may be the most unbelievable part of the story. Anyone still at this White House should know by now that the only thing on Trump's mind is how to make things worse. Sidney Powell is perfect for that job.

Blistering ruling from Trump-appointed judge dismisses president's Wisconsin case 'with prejudice'

At this point is it news that Donald Trump has lost yet another case in court? Eh, probably not. But somehow the taste of Donald Trump, big loser, just never gets old. And in this case, that losing sauce is extra spicy—because the epic smackdown came from a Trump-appointed conservative judge.

District Court Judge Brett Ludwig dismissed Trump's case in Wisconsin "with prejudice," meaning that it is pretty much dead, dead, and also dead. But Judge Ludwig didn't stop there. His ruling makes it clear that he's … "aghast" seems like the proper term. In addition to calling this "an extraordinary case" (emphasis his), where Trump hopes "to secure federal court help in undoing his defeat," Ludwig makes it extremely clear that such help is not coming.

From the ruling:

"This is an extraordinary case. Plaintiff Donald J. Trump is the current president of the United States, having narrowly won the state of Wisconsin's electoral votes four years ago, with a margin of just over 22,700 votes. In this lawsuit he seeks to set aside the results of the November 3, 2020 popular vote in Wisconsin, an election in which the recently certified results show he was defeated by a similarly narrow margin of just over 20,600 votes. Hoping to secure federal court help in undoing his defeat, plaintiff asserts that the defendants, a group of some 20 Wisconsin officials, violated his rights under the "Electors Clause" in Article II, Section I of the Constitution."

Trump's claim is that the state elections commission made rules about … state elections, which is the exact reason that the state legislature created the commission and authorized it to make such rules. However, Trump asserts that because the commission did issue such rules, it means the whole election "failed," and the state's electors should be left up to the GOP-dominated state legislature.

In response, Ludwig showed that a single use of the word "extraordinary" was insufficient to measure the level of gall that Trump was asserting.

"This is an extraordinary case. A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in sitting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred. This court has allowed plaintiff to make his case and he has lost on the merits.
In his reply, plaintiff asks that 'the rule of law be followed.' It has been."

It's not your standing, loser. It's your case.

Sore-loser Trump reportedly won't attend Biden's inauguration or invite Biden family to White House

Donald Trump has now said that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes him out, but don't take that as a sign that Trump will ever—ever, ever—issue anything that can be perceived as a confession. Trump just wants to deny the nation the singular pleasure of seeing him exit the people's house via a physical expulsion.

It's been clear for some time that Trump's next role is the same one he had cast for himself in 2016: rightful king in exile. Well before he shocked himself by squeaking out a win in the previous cycle, Trump laid on the groundwork to claim that the election was "rigged" and that he collected all the "real votes" from real Americans. That way, Trump could do one unbroken cycle of rallies with lots of "lock her, him, and also her" up chants. Four years later, Trump is blowing the dust off that plan.

Trump may exit the White House, but he's going to do it in the most snotty, petty, and ugly way imaginable.

Sources at NBC News are reporting that we should not expect to see Trump's pouting face at Joe Biden's inaugural. Which is a shame, not just because watching Trump scowl his way through the ceremony would be a source of national entertainment, but because it would be an absolute breech in a long line of peaceful transitions. However, Trump would not be the first; Andrew Johnson was the last of three who refused to attend the inauguration of the successors. Racist. Authoritarian. Impeached. Sounds like an appropriate role model.

In addition to not showing up to signal the unbroken chain of government authority, Trump also intends to refuse Biden the basic courtesies involved in handing over power. That means Trump does not intend to offer Biden and his family the traditional visit and tour of the White House. On the one hand, that's fine. Biden knows where to find it. However, it's emblematic of how Trump will do the absolute minimum that might be interpreted as accepting the outcome of the election. Trump also never intends to call Biden to concede.

There's little doubt that the 2021 inaugural will be a constrained affair, limited as it will be by the pandemic that Trump has not even attempted to control. (Though if a few million doses of vaccine do get to frontline healthcare workers, inviting as many of them as can attend to be Biden's guests, and celebrating them on the day of the inauguration, might be nice.)

But Trump is likely to do everything he can to rain on that day. Not only will he not attend—he may choose that day to announce the beginning of his 2024 campaign. That announcement would be not just a thumb in the eye of tradition and a big middle finger to even a moment of national unity, it would be an absolute signal to Mitch McConnell and Republicans in both the House and Senate that any sign of normal governance over the next four years would be unacceptable.

Still, there's something Trump should remember … every act gets old eventually. And he's old already.

The world's 1.5 billion cattle are a huge problem. This could be part of the solution

While Republicans, including Donald Trump, have falsely claimed that the Green New Deal would require eliminating raising cattle for meat, the truth is there is no such requirement in the proposed legislation, or in Joe Biden's proposed environmental policy. Still, there's no doubt that the over 1 billion domestic cows on planet Earth are a genuine monster when it comes to resources. Raising all that meat-on-the-hoof requires enormous tracts of land as well as tremendous amounts of water. In the United States alone, the grain that goes to cattle each year could potentially feed the entire population of the country more than three times over.

Then there's the methane. It may seem embarrassing, disgusting, or simply ridiculous, but as ruminant animals whose multiple stomachs use bacteria to help break down tough plant material, cows … fart. A lot. A single cow can put out over 200 pounds of methane in a year and as a whole, domestic cattle account for more than a third of all methane emissions from human activity. And yes, this counts as human activity, even when it's being propelled out the backside of cows. The simplest way to reduce this assault on the environment is to reduce the number of cows. However, there are ways to preserve the burger supply while still reducing greenhouse gases. And a new one involves feeding those cows something they're unlikely to run into in the average field: seaweed.

As The Washington Post reports, research published in 2016 showed that feeding cattle the a common red macroalgae with the scientific name Asparagopsis taxiformis could significantly reduce greenhouse gas production. Very significantly.

While it may seem impractical to either graze cattle in coastal bays or send train-loads of red seaweed across the country to cattle feedlots, the good news here is that the seaweed doesn't have to completely replace grass or grain to have the beneficial effect. In tests performed at Australia's national science agency CSIRO, feeding cows a diet that included just 0.2% red seaweed reduced methane production by 98%. Since the average cow eats about 55 pounds of food per day on a dry basis, this means their intake of the red macroalgae would be only about a tenth of a pound, making the amount of the red seaweed required seem remarkably possible.

It does this while actually helping cattle to use their other food more efficiently because it helps to optimize the process by which bacteria ferment grain and grass. So the cattle gain weight faster while producing less gas.

And there's a secondary benefit: Raising the seaweed itself might also be good for both the air and the water. CSIRO has worked out methods where, done properly, growing red seaweed can itself help to sequester additional carbon and help reduce ocean acidification.

All of this makes red seaweed a big improvement over other proposed supplements, which reduce methane by only 20-40% while requiring that the supplement be a much higher percentage of the cattle's diet. Or, in the case of Pennsylvania State research, requires feeding cattle a chemical supplement.

Previous research has also demonstrated success in growing related red algae in brackish ponds in areas as far north as Sweden. This opens the possibility that the necessary amounts of the supplemental plant might be not require shipment from coastal areas into cattle-raising regions of the interior—which would itself be a source of greenhouse gases. Instead, the relatively small amounts of the seaweed required might be raised in pools or ponds close to the necessary locations.

Asparagopsis taxiformis will definitely not solve the way that cattle take up almost a quarter of all ice-free land. It won't address the trillions of gallons of water they consume each year. It won't do much to make the grain that now goes to cattle available to hungry human beings. But if the data from field research holds up, it might reduce the greenhouse gas output from cattle by a genuinely significant amount while opening up a new industry that itself could help to sequester additional carbon. And that's something.

This is early research. The benefits might be much less dramatic on a large scale and, just as we've seen with recent vaccine trials, expansion of this research on a large scale means taking careful steps to make sure that this application is safe for the areas of sea where the red macroalgae is grown, the cattle that eat that macroalgae, and the humans who eat the cattle (or consume their dairy products).

What is in the actual Green New Deal is a drive toward agriculture that's genuinely sustainable and compatible with maintaining a low-carbon footprint. That call for sustainability is repeated in Joe Biden's policies. Exactly what shape a sustainable system ultimately takes is something that will be worked out by farmers, by regulators, by researchers—and perhaps most of all, by consumers. That red macroalgae from the sea might turn out to be a part of the solution for cattle raised on Midwest farms might seem like a reach, but it could also turn out to be part of how understanding the planet as a whole helps us deal with one of the many moving parts of the overall picture.