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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

@FromaHarrop

Women Accusing Cuomo Won't Come Out On Top

Three women have accused New York's Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. The complaints center largely around unsolicited shows of affection.

He very well may have said the inappropriate things being reported, but none of the women were physically harmed by what was at most unwanted flirtation. You have to ask: What will these displays of fragility do to the women's careers? Little that's good, unless they plan to seek tenure in a department of gender studies.

"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me," said Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, "and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared." A grown woman getting "scared" by a come-on? From a New Yorker, no less?

Wanting the world to know of her torment, Bennett made herself available to the media, done up in cat-eye makeup. Basically, that involves a vixenish wing of eyeliner swooshing to the outer corner.

Is your writer implying that Bennett somehow "asked for it"? She is not, because "it" never happened. It's possible that Cuomo was propositioning her — and if he was, he shouldn't have. But Bennett emerged from the ordeal untouched.

Next up is Lindsey Boylan, another of the governor's aides. She accused him of kissing her on the lips as she was about to leave his office. "I was in shock," she wrote, "but I kept walking." At least she didn't call 911.

Boylan also took great exception to Cuomo's alleged invitation to play strip poker while they were flying on a plane full of government officials. She might consider that he was joshing.

Cuomo's office is denying most of this, and his former aide Ashley Cotton came to his defense. "He can be funny, he can make lousy jokes," she said. "But I have never known him to cross the line."

Up to now, Boylan was an obscure candidate for Manhattan borough president. Obscure no more, but does she think this offended-dignity act is going to get her elected? Bad things happen in Manhattan, things far worse than stolen kisses.

Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss, not an instrument of male domination in a patriarchal society. Or, in language sociologists might understand, it's "a cultural construct." Manhattan is home to a zillion cultures, each with its views and customs on kissing.

Which brings us to accuser No. 3. Anna Ruch complained that at a New York City wedding reception in 2019, Cuomo put his hands on her face, said, "Can I kiss you?" and proceeded to kiss her on the cheek.

"I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ruch said.

Small wonder. Imagine an Italian kissing people at a wedding party.

The tabloids at least are having fun. "Quit It, Andy," said the New York Daily News front page, noting that the lefty Working Families Party is demanding Cuomo resign and end his "reign of fear."

On the right, Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin says Cuomo is guilty of "bullying, abuse and harassment." Also, he may run against Cuomo in 2022.

The New York Post had "Handsy Andy" with a picture of the governor holding Ruch's face. Under that was "Look of fear as Cuomo 'gave unwanted kiss': Third accuser."

Needless to say, The New York Times is treating these stories with utmost solemnity. Its readers' comments, meanwhile, overflow with eye-rolling. Many regard Cuomo as the savvy politician needed to lead the state out of its economic crisis. Some people care about those things.

Let's end with another of Cuomo's "inappropriate gestures," as recounted by Boylan: "He gave roses to female staffers on Valentine's Day and arranged to have one delivered to me, the only one on my floor."

And she thinks she can run Manhattan?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Trump Finally Made Me Smile

Donald Trump was never forever. The former president is 74, obese and the subject of serious criminal investigations. Resurfacing after disgracefully inciting a rampage on the Capitol, he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference. The delivery was tired and the grievances now boring.

The big difference is he's no longer in power. Thanks to Trump, Democrats now hold the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress. That the authoritarian clown show no longer threatens America makes it considerably more entertaining.

The speech was predictably heavy on attacks against the man who beat him. "Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history," Trump said. Biden, whose approval rating is 56 percent, as opposed to Trump's 34 percent, is ignoring him.

The question is whether there are enough sane people left in the Republican Party to fix it. Could the party, to borrow a phrase, build back better? That would be hard with the smart conservatives — Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, Lisa Murkowski, Adam Kinzinger — now marooned on RINO Island.

Tom Nichols, a prominent never-Trumper, thinks it's over for the GOP. The party, he writes, is now "controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man."

What happens when the old man leaves the scene? Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and other would-be Trumps might want his voters, but they don't have his skills. They lack the Vegas-comic patter and tough New Yorker persona and silly antics. In sum, they're not entertaining.

Same goes for the Trump children, hard as they might try on impersonation. (However, if Ivanka were to knock out the gutless Marco Rubio in a Florida primary, that would be OK.)

It's true that despite Trump's loss in November, Republicans took back several seats in the House. That, of course, was before Trump's cop-beating mob threatened to hang Mike Pence. (The former vice president, understandably, sent his regrets to the CPAC organizers.) And it happened after a campaign in which COVID-concerned Democrats failed to go door to door while Republicans did.

When the congressional midterms take place in 2022, things will be a lot different. COVID should be over. There could well be two years of nontraumatic governance and an economy fat with new jobs. At the same time, the voter bloc that still calls itself Republican is shrinking. And it's not good news that only 37 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Republican Party, whereas 48 percent have a positive view of Democrats, according to Gallup.

Should we worry that there may not be a Republican Party able to counter Democratic excesses? Another anti-Trump conservative, Jennifer Rubin, says no. She notes that many parts of the country are already basically one-party locales — say, Democratic New York City or Republican Mississippi. But their crowded primaries provide voters with a diversity of views.

Meanwhile, with Biden at the top, the Democratic Party has built up moderate appeal. The party's lefties are finding, much to their dismay, that their every wish is not Biden's command. By the way, Congress now has the highest job approval in almost 12 years, and it's run by Democrats.

When Republicans complained that Biden didn't spend much time negotiating with them on his COVID relief bill, the question was: Negotiate with whom? With the Republicans who wouldn't admit he really won the election? They happened to represent a majority of the House Republican caucus.

The happy news is that Trump doesn't even get me mad anymore. So what if he still insists he won the election? Crazy people on street corners claim to be president. Trump finally made me smile, because he no longer matters.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Keep Hope Up As Pandemic Ebbs — But Don’t Let Guard Down

Are we at the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? Let's call it the middle.

The COVID-19 numbers are going decisively lower, both infections and deaths. Millions, meanwhile, are getting the vaccine and becoming mostly immune to the disease.

Still, the seven-day average of American deaths from this virus continues in the thousands. And it would be much higher if more of us let our guard down by ignoring calls to wear masks, socially distance, and sanitize hands.

We each make our own policy for how far to go. There are the absolutists, who take no chances. They see no friends and never enter a restaurant, much less step on a plane.

Then there are moderates, like yours truly, who always wear a mask in public but do gather with their "pod" of careful friends. We eat in establishments that take precautions.

Finally, there are those who don't care at all and do nothing protective. They risk their own life and the lives of others.

As we move into a somewhat less scary phase of this disease, we moderates probably have the most to think about. That's because we were always open to weighing more options.

Consideration No. 1: mask-wearing. Of course we'll continue wearing masks. But two masks with one of tight-fitting cloth, as Dr. Anthony Fauci advises? On public transportation, OK. But as the risk of infection heads down, perhaps we can lighten up and wear just a lightweight mask while on a walk.

Infectious-disease experts now believe that outdoor activities rarely cause the disease to spread unless people are in close conversation. They say that with a few exceptions, we can safely jog or bike without a mask.

That said, hospitals are still rationing medical-grade N95 masks even as their stockpiles grow, according to the Associated Press. Why? They remain traumatized by the terrifying mask shortage of a year ago and don't want to be caught short-handed again. They also fear a future surge in cases. (More on that later.)

We moderates continue to frown on the mask-less multitudes who crowd at super-spreader events. A recent example would be the bar parties following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl win. Health officials in Florida warn of a possible coronavirus spike as a result. For people like me, the difference now is we take all that reckless behavior less personally.

Consideration No. 2: traveling. Early in the pandemic, I flew across the country on a JetBlue flight with few passengers and distanced seating. I would not go on a crowded jet. Now that I've had my first shot, I worry less about flying. When I get the second one, I'll hop right on.

Consideration No. 3: guilt. As frontline workers, the elderly and other vulnerable people get their protective vaccinations, less stigma is attached to easing up a bit on the restrictions.

However, unsettling thoughts remain. New coronavirus variants are reportedly more infectious and not as easily tamed by some of the vaccines. Variants are reportedly reinfecting people who survived the early version of the disease. And, undoubtedly, more variants are coming at us.

To reach herd immunity, 60 to 90 percent of the population must be vaccinated or protected by prior infection, according to medical experts. If the 15 percent of Americans who say they'll never get the vaccine follow through on that vow, that goal could be hard to reach.

The hope in this country is that the pandemic will end around summer. As the scourge shows more definite signs of weakening, we who tried to do the right things may be able to relax — if just a little. This will be a strange time.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

GOP Crazies Aren’t The Democrats’ Problem

Let's start with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) but keep it short. The Georgia Republican's honking-mad commentary speaks of dementia, not anything approaching political discourse. She's getting gobs of attention, but then, so do car accidents.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had it exactly right when he said that "loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party."

And so, why are so many Democrats and friends on left-leaning Twitter so bent on going ape over her every crackpot eruption? Because she's entertainment, and entertainment is what American politics has become. "Saturday Night Live" hit the painfully funny nail on the head when it identified Donald Trump as a "former social media influencer."

After Greene expressed regret for her bizarre comments, including the assertion that the 9/11 attacks never happened, fellow Republicans responded by giving her a standing ovation. That's how low their bar for acceptable governance has fallen.

Greene's marker for success seems measured in publicity. And her hero Trump ran the master class in getting people to talk about him.

In the jaws of the COVID-19 health crisis, he tweeted insults at scientists and endangered the public by countering expert health advice — but, boy, did he get media attention. The so-called mainstream media were complicit. They expanded their audience by obsessing over the freak show. That fed Trump still more audience.

"Whatabout?" Trump supporters will ask. What about Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who, like Greene, aired some anti-Semitic sentiments? There was a difference. The Minnesota congresswoman tied her ignorant remarks to a real place called Israel and not lasers from outer space. Omar, at the least, was tethered to some kind of reality.

I find her whining more bothersome. As a Somali refugee plucked from a camp in Kenya — given a university education in North Dakota and a seat in Congress — Omar might have been expected to temper her disappointments that America wasn't as cushy as her family was led to believe. Guess the room service wasn't up to her standards.

But while Omar is a burden to the Democratic Party, she's also hardly a hero there. In 2020, her hyper-liberal Minneapolis district was highly motivated to vote Trump out of office, but it gave her only 64 percent of the vote. Joe Biden got 80 percent.

As for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she is a smart woman but exerts more energy building her celebrity than helping the Democratic Party maintain power. And if she would talk less about her personal triumphs and travails, that would be OK with me.

Have you noticed how unentertaining President Joe Biden is? He's quietly pushing through an economic stimulus. He's getting COVID vaccines out to the public while urging the public to minimize new infections. And he's telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that Trump is no longer in a position to serve him.

He's doing all this without incendiary commentary about his political adversaries. When bipartisanship happens, he expresses gratitude.

The @JoeBiden feed has been issuing only one or two tweets a day, probably not written by him. The subjects center on such concerns as the pandemic, foreign relations and the economic crisis, important matters that — sorry to tax anyone's brain — are also complex.

When a reporter asked his press secretary, Jen Psaki, if the White House had a comment on Greene's latest howl on social media, she curtly responded: "We don't. And I'm not going to speak further about her in this briefing room."

Biden has a presidency to run. From a purely political perspective, the more Republican crazies make the world wonder about them, the better it is for Democrats. But let's be frank: None of this is good for the country.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

How Consumers Pushed Corporate America To Defend Democracy

The board of Goya Foods has just forbidden its CEO, Robert Unanue, from talking to the media without first obtaining board permission. Do you know how extraordinary that is? Well, these are extraordinary times.

A month after the deadly attack on the Capitol, Unanue has continued to spread the false claim that prompted it — that former President Donald Trump was denied a second term because of voter fraud. He told Fox Business that Joe Biden's election was "unverified" and that there was a "war coming." That was the last straw for the Goya board.

Business decisions obviously play a part in companies' decision to risk losing some customers in defense of the democracy. They are exposing themselves to the type of political controversy they habitually avoid.

No executive has tied himself more tightly, by the ankles and wrists, to Trumpian conspiracy theories than Mike Lindell, founder and head of MyPillow. And that has made his brand toxic to many consumers. Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, H-E-B and Wayfair are among the retail giants to drop the MyPillow line. For many shoppers traumatized by the insurrection, just seeing that brand on the way to the shower curtains reawakens their disgust.

Twitter cut off Lindell as well, not only his personal account but also the MyPillow account. Dominion Voting Systems has already sued Trump ally Rudy Giuliani for knowingly spreading lies that its machines produced fraudulent results and is now threatening to go after Lindell for defamation, big time. Legal scholars say Dominion's case is strong and MyPillow could have its clock cleaned.

On the finance side, Shopify has taken down Trump's online stores. Stripe, PayPal and Square have stopped helping Trump World process payments. Deutsche Bank, Trump's one remaining major banker, says it's now through with him.

The PGA, meanwhile, has refused to hold its championship tournament at Trump's New Jersey golf club. When golf drops Trump, you know he's being dropped — and that the fear of losing customers as a result is less than fear of being associated with him.

The timeline at Goya offers a case in point. Last July, when Unanue campaigned with Trump, many Latinos and some anti-Trump groups called for a boycott of the Hispanic-owned food company's products. Trump supporters responded with a "buy-cott," urging their ranks to buy Goya products.

Who won? Sales driven by COVID-fueled demand for canned goods were hot early on. After July, though, Goya sales growth withered. And the board has discussed replacing Unanue, an anonymous source told CNN.

Unanue is not being "censored," as some news reports put it. Nor is Lindell a victim of cancel culture, as he insists. Both are free to mouth off, just as their customers are free to bypass a product they associate with appalling behavior.

To be clear on the issues involved, I never cared whether Unanue or Lindell liked or voted for Trump. But their tying the prestige of their companies to the Trump campaign made buying their products feel like a kind of Trump endorsement.

Let's end with the case of Mark Hastings, CEO of BarProducts.com. Hastings foolishly posted pictures of himself in front of the Capitol during the riots — and wearing a Trump hat, no less. An instant social media campaign was launched to boycott his products.

As a bar manager at the Graduate Hotel in Seattle wrote on Facebook, "This is a person I've given money to and in some way, I feel a little responsible for funding him to be there."

Americans are putting their consumer dollars on the side of democracy. Most of corporate America seems to have noticed.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Auto Industry Accelerates Toward A Clean Energy Future

General Motors has just delivered an electric shock to the automotive world. America's biggest automaker says that it wants its entire vehicle lineup to be electric by 2035. That's a mere 14 years from now.

This shouldn't be a shock. Electric cars are coming at us fast.

But recall that less than two years ago, then-President Donald Trump tried to slow this necessary transition. He demanded that carmakers reject California's tighter carbon-emissions standards — rules that would have helped Detroit move more quickly toward the clean energy vehicles the world was demanding.

GM sided with Trump, while Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW were happy to work with California. Trump then retaliated against America's No. 2 carmaker, accusing Ford of wanting to build "a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn't work as well." None of those charges are true, in case you're wondering.

Cynics say that GM CEO Mary Barra was playing up to Trump then and is now playing up to President Joe Biden, who is going big on clean energy. In any case, the move to an all-electric fleet is a business decision.

Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands say they will ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2030. China announced that most vehicles sold there by 2035 must be electric. (GM sells more cars in China, through joint ventures, than in the United States.)

For an idea of how Wall Street views the electric vehicle future, consider that investors put a value on Tesla — an electric car and clean energy company founded in 2003 — ten times that of GM.

Oh, and while Washington was trying to hold domestic carmakers back, China was building dominance. China leads the world in making battery packs for electric vehicles, by far. It's grabbed control of much of Earth's raw materials needed for electric cars. And it is offering princely subsidies for the vehicles' purchase.

Biden wants to extend the $7,500 tax incentive to buy EVs and says he will build 500,000 charging stations coast to coast. Both moves would further boost domestic demand for electric vehicles. That would lower the automakers' per-vehicle costs in a global market, raising the companies' profits.

But how strong is current domestic demand for electric vehicles? Let's put it this way: One day after GM started taking orders for a zero-emission Hummer, the first year's production was sold out.

Back in the days of oil supremacy, the Hummer had become the epitome of polluting excess. Some owners seemed to like it for that reason. But power is no longer the province of fossil fuels. The electric Hummer has 1,000 horsepower and can go zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds.

Meanwhile, the Ford Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle was a star at the recent Beijing Auto Show. The Mach-E is a complicated concept. Not your pony car of yore, it is an electrified SUV cosmetically altered to look a bit Mustang-like. It has four doors! Whatever. Edmunds just made this car its top-rated luxury EV, beating out Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Polestar, and Tesla.

Funny to read that Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and former GM executive, said she told carmakers: "When Joe Biden gets elected, your world will turn upside down. You've got to be at the table or else this thing gets jammed down your throat."

By contrast, Bloomberg News reports that "Biden's position has been met with a collective sigh of relief in some quarters of Detroit." Finally, an administration is interested in easing the necessary transition.

GM plans to build an electric-vehicle battery factory in the Lordstown, Ohio, area. Here we go.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Goodbye To The (Unneeded) Keystone XL Pipeline

Little passion greeted President Joe Biden's decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. Remarkably little.

Sure, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the move an "insult." His Canadian province had sunk $1.1 billion into the project, designed to transport dirty oil from Alberta's tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

But the Keystone XL pipeline was an artifact from an earlier time. When it was proposed in 2008, the price of crude had jumped to over $120 a barrel, causing some to fret that the energy supply would fall short of demand.

Oil is now down to about $50 a barrel, thanks in large part to the shale-oil boom. Thus, American oil producers won't be losing much sleep over the loss of a venture that would have added to supply, possibly depressing their prices even more. By the way, energy economists say that producing petroleum from Canadian tar sands could not turn a profit until the global oil price passes $65 a barrel.

The earliest objections to the pipeline were mostly environmental. Ranchers, farmers, and Native Americans in Nebraska worried that pipeline leaks would foul groundwater, an especially precious commodity in their part of the world. Its demise also ended ugly eminent domain fights, as the Canadian pipeline builder, TC Energy, tried to force landowners to give it right of way across their farms.

"Thank you President Biden and all the thousands of voices who have stood strong these many years," Jeanne Crumly told the Omaha World-Herald. Her ranch was right in the pipeline's path.

Not only is tar sands oil a dirty fossil fuel; it is the dirtiest . A spill rapidly sinks to the bottom of waterways, making any cleanup harder than it would be with conventional crude.

Of course, 2008 was before climate change jumped to the top of our list of existential crises. Extracting and processing tar sands oil creates up to four times the carbon pollution emitted in other crude production.

But what about the arguments in the pipeline's favor? They are yesterday's talking points, though some politicians are still making them.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a short statement criticizing the cancellation as follows: "Failure to construct the pipeline would mean more dependence on overseas energy sources as well as fewer jobs."

On energy independence, one of Ricketts' key points, the United States already has it. The U.S. has actually been a net exporter of refined petroleum products for 10 years. Starting two years ago, more crude oil was leaving for other countries than was coming in.

And employment? TC Energy said the pipeline would create 119,000 jobs. A State Department report came up with a somewhat smaller number. It said the project would require fewer than 2,000 construction jobs over two years. And once built, the pipeline would employ about 35.

Then-President Barack Obama nixed the project in 2015. Right after taking office in 2017, President Donald Trump revived it. Biden killed it moments after being sworn in.

In a short address, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shed half a tear over the pipeline's undoing and noted the many Canadian jobs tied to fossil fuel production. He then said he looks forward to working with Biden.

Our acceleration into a post-carbon world will not be stopped. In 2020 — even as the pandemic pushed down global car sales by a fifth — sales of electric cars rose 43 percent. Consider the optics of an electric Ford Mustang about to roll off the assembly line.

The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline had its day. Fortunately, it never advanced much beyond debate. It is dead — this time, we expect, for good.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

The Proud Boys Return To Neverland

So, the Proud Boys now judge Donald Trump "a total failure" and "extraordinarily weak." The members of the far-right group understood at last that when the former president denounced them for doing what he incited them to do, they looked ridiculous.

How to save face? They couldn't concede that posting pictures of themselves engaged in a murderous assault on the U.S. Capitol was supremely stupid. No, it was that Trump was too cowardly to join them. But thinking that he would was also supremely stupid.

After winding the mob up with insane ranting about a "stolen election," Trump urged it to march to the Capitol to stop the counting of votes. "You'll never take back our country with weakness," he said. "And I'll be there with you."

Of course, he wasn't there with them. It was some strange Neverland these Lost Boys came from. How else explain their expecting Trump to expose himself to the swarm, much less risk injury in a violent encounter?

While the boys were vandalizing, looting and threatening to hang elected officials, according to The Washington Post, Trump serenely watched the rampage on White House TVs. At a certain point, though, it dawned on the president that the unfolding horror was not in his interests. He conferred with advisers and lawyers to ensure he wouldn't take the rap for it.

Thus, at 2:38 p.m. Eastern time, after a Capitol Police officer had already been killed, he tweeted, "Stay peaceful!" He then issued a video in which he told the herd to go home.

A day later, he condemned the blockheads for their "heinous attack" and said he was "outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem." And to think that some of the Proud Boys actually expected a presidential pardon for their crimes.

The main objective here is not to point out the treachery of Trump. It's not even to question the right wing's willingness to believe that Trump hadn't lost. With all those conspiracy theories infesting their media — and weeks of getting pounded by a charismatic speaker's lies — one could envision their swallowing the nonsense that dark forces had denied victory to he whom they called "Emperor Trump."

The Proud Boys' grasp on reality was never all it could be, but still. The group had it together enough to closely follow Trump's 86 unsuccessful legal challenges to the election results. It should have been easier to note Trump's long history of covering his rear end and employing an army of lawyers to countersue those he had betrayed. But somehow, the Lost Boys thought they'd be an exception.

And so, they portrayed the double-cross as an unexpected abuse of what they imagined as their honor. They hit back — or so they thought. "The Proud Boys Now Mock Trump" is how a New York Times headline characterized their criticism.

With all due respect to the headline writer, the people being mocked are the right-wing rioters facing criminal charges after being turned in by their children, ex-wives and (former) employers. Trump is back at Mar-a-Lago, smelling the sweet chlorine from his swimming pool and playing golf.

The insurrectionists now have their own lawyers. Despite the "heinous" nature of their acts, some of the legal advisers have taken the tack of portraying their clients as naive nitwits.

The lawyer representing the "QAnon Shaman" says the would-be actor regrets what he did but was duped by Trump. And he refers to his client in clownish terms — as "the guy with the horns and the fur, the meditation and organic food."

The Proud Boys are now saying in online posts that the group should drop politics and abandon both parties. They may be on to something, finally.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Seditious GOP Is Getting Stripped Of Money

With much of corporate America vowing to withhold donations to Republican insurrectionists, party leaders have a choice to make. The Trump cult or the money? The money or the Trump cult?

One hoped that love of country and its democratic institutions would have been reason enough to strongly condemn fellow Republicans who tried to overturn the results of a legally certified election. Only a handful of Republicans rose to the occasion, with a few more signing on following the obscene Trump-fueled rampage on the Capitol.

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It’s Time For The Republican Party To Split

As Donald Trump's Republican Party descends into madness, dragged down by the president's lies, threats and possible mental illness, it's become hard to imagine democracy-loving conservatives continuing to live in the same house. They're in a marriage that can't be saved.

The framework for a new party is already up, thanks to the seasoned Republican operatives behind the never-Trump movement. They can establish a safe space for the likes of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, among others. And their tribe will increase.

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Riot Inciter Louie Gohmert Is The Face Of The Republican Party

I'm no big fan of AOC. Some of her ideas aren't bad, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez burdens the progressive cause by waving the socialist label like it's some kind of fashion brand. That has enabled Republicans to make her the face of the Democratic Party in a country where the S-word can scare off even moderates.

At least AOC believes in the democracy. We just witnessed the spectacle of Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert suing Vice President Mike Pence to force him to overturn Electoral College results that will deliver a decisive victory to Joe Biden. When the Texas judge, a Donald Trump appointee, brushed the suit off, Gohmert urged people to "go to the streets" and be "violent."

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Investigating Hunter Biden? Probe Trump’s Taxes Too

Hunter Biden says his tax affairs are under investigation. The president-elect's son says he is "confident" the probe by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware will find no wrongdoing.

Fine. We shall see.

A few things to unpack here. First, inquiries into possible tax fraud should be welcome. When some people cheat on their taxes, those who don't have to cover for them.

At the same time, Joe Biden's 50-year-old son is not Joe. Any tax issues he has are his, not his father's.

President Donald Trump has tried mightily to link Hunter's business dealings with Chinese and European tycoons to Joe, and the investigations have come up empty. He'd undoubtedly love to tie Hunter's tax issues into one public-confusing package.

Attorney General William Barr has rejected Trump's demand for a special counsel to investigate Hunter. He says that scrutiny of Hunter's activities is "being handled responsibly and professionally." Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, which has been scouring Hunter's business ventures, concluded, "None of the Journal's reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son's business activities." The tax probe doesn't implicate Joe either.


All this said, it was not OK that Hunter used his powerful political name to rake in cash from foreign tycoons. It was not OK that he used his family ties to score a discounted stake in a Chinese private equity venture or various lucrative consulting deals. Or that he sold himself as the guy who could grease entry into the Washington power structure.

And Joe should have stopped it. There was nothing in Hunter's biography — which included drug and money problems — that would have prompted these foreign interests to hire him for his talents. Two Obama administration officials aired concern that Hunter's seat on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma would leave the appearance of a conflict of interest. Senate Republicans looked hard for evidence that Joe Biden altered U.S. policy in Ukraine for his son, and found none. Still, appearances matter.

Of course, Biden's missteps in letting a family member profit off his Washington connections pale in contrast to the Trumps' brazen self-dealing. In that case, you don't even know where to start.


Imagine the outrage if Biden were to let Hunter stand in for him at a G-20 meeting, as Trump let his daughter Ivanka do. In 2018, China fast-tracked 18 trademarks to companies linked to Trump and Ivanka — you know, those sunglasses, handbags and shoes.

Then there was son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser. Vanity Fair reports that Kushner set up a shell company into which Trump fans are still pouring money. Its apparent purpose was to avoid federally mandated disclosures of campaign spending, much of it heading to Trump family pockets. The company's first president was Eric Trump's wife, Lara. Its first vice president was Vice President Mike Pence's nephew John Pence.

Back on the tax fraud front, state prosecutors in Manhattan are ramping up efforts to obtain Trump's personal and corporate tax returns. They are looking into possible insurance fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud. If they find culpability, Trump could face criminal charges.


Any pardons that Trump might grant himself and his children could shield them from federal prosecutions, but not state ones. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has already testified that Trump inflated the value of his assets to his lenders and then deflated them to cut his real estate taxes. Both practices are illegal. Also under investigation are millions in tax write-offs for consulting services, some apparently for work by Ivanka.

Let's find all the tax cheats. Do it for we who've been paying both our taxes and their taxes.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Investing In Trump Was Always A Loser

If all goes according to plan, someone will have the honor of blowing up the crumbling remains of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. It could be you. Atlantic City, which loves Trump not, is taking bids on who may push the button.

"This will be done remotely and can be done anywhere in the world as well as close to the Plaza as we can safely get you there!" the auctioneer Bodnar's promises.

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COVID Vaccine Debut May Result In ‘Passports’ For The Inoculated

What a relief that at least a few of us are getting the coronavirus vaccine. I would have liked my arm to have been among the select few. I'll wait patiently, however, comforted in knowing that with every passing week, the list of Americans threatened by this nasty, deadly virus will shrink and life will return to normal.

But the interim should be quite interesting. There's talk of COVID-19 vaccine passports — offering proof that you've been immunized and, therefore, no longer a virus threat to others. This form of ID might qualify you for admission into a crowded restaurant, theater or stadium.

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Who Benefits From The Diversity Obsession? Not Biden Nominees

The days right after an election are an ideal time for political parties to work on fixing bad habits. For Democrats, that would mean kicking the increasingly dated custom of declaring race, ethnicity and gender factors in filling leadership positions. Demands on President-elect Joe Biden to put these considerations front and center show a failure to understand how politically poisonous identity politics have become.

Happily, Biden is choosing people who are highly qualified for the job. But unhappily, and no small irony, focusing on their identity only subtracts attention from their impressive careers.

Biden's pick to head the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is a world-renowned economist. She's already been chair of the Federal Reserve, for heaven's sake. And so, why open news stories with a proclamation that, if confirmed, Yellen will become "the first female Treasury secretary"? Is she now a diversity hire?

No one elected the identity professionals now pressuring Biden. And it's unclear whether members of the groups they profess to represent want their services. For example, a Washington Post/Ipsos poll asked African Americans early this year whether a white presidential candidate's pick of a black vice president would excite them. Some 73 percent responded little or not at all.

Yet Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is now calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat with a black woman. Bass says she's available, by the way.

Note that her demand comes one month after voters in the very Democratic state of California rejected a plan to restore affirmative action in public hiring.

A problem with succumbing to the pressure is it's never enough. Much fuss was made over Biden's naming what The Washington Post described as the "first Hispanic American" to head the Department of Homeland Security. That would be the very capable Alejandro Mayorkas.

"Latino advocates," Bloomberg News says, were then pushing Biden to name New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as health and human services secretary. Though angry when those efforts seemed to fail, the activists now seem pleased that Biden has named another Latino, Xavier Becerra, to that prominent post.

You have to feel for Becerra. A graduate of Stanford Law School and California attorney general, he could have competed for the job with anyone. Now many think he was named to lead HHS because of his coloration.

Barack Obama becoming the first black president was a big deal. Nothing against Cori Bush, but how big a deal is her becoming the first black Missouri congresswoman, as many media felt obliged to put in their leads?

The New York Times had a twofer — actually, two of them — when Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, both from New York, were elected as the "1st Gay Black Members of Congress." Torres also considers himself Latino, so that makes three identities.

Lest we forget, an openly gay man named Barney Frank spent 32 years representing a demographically mixed district in Massachusetts. A gay man in Congress is not really news. That Torres was a highly effective member of the New York City Council should have been reason enough to support him.

Biden has pledged to name the first black woman to the Supreme Court, if and when he can fill a vacancy. I have no problem with a qualified black female Supreme Court justice. The problem is the pledge.

Biden told CNN that he understands it's the advocacy groups' "job to push me." The Democratic Party would do itself a big favor by pushing back on the diversity fixation. It's good for neither the party nor the talented people it burdens with unnecessary labels.


Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

America Is Ready To Move On From Trump

Save this video for the documentaries. It shows Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey certifying his state's vote for President-elect Joe Biden when his cellphone goes off. The ringtone, "Hail to the Chief," means President Donald Trump is on the line. Ducey mutes the phone, casually puts it down and goes on with his presentation.

Ducey was not about to let Trump break into his briefing. He sure wasn't going to pay any mind to Trump's false charges that the election in Arizona was riddled with fraud. Ducey basically turned off Trump's mic.

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Who Will Recall These Strange Pandemic Months?

Decades from now, today's young will be sharing vivid memories of the pandemic of 2020. They will tell grandchildren what it was like seeing grown-ups go about their daily business in face masks. They may recall closed schools and teachers reaching them through a videoconferencing application then known as Zoom.

Some storytellers may marvel at those who refused to protect themselves and suffered death or lasting physical damage as a result — or who exposed loved ones to the same. And they may recall the president as a bizarre figure who kept downplaying a disease that took hundreds of thousands of American lives.

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