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

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol, home to inspiring statues of Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Ronald Reagan.

And Lucille Ball?

A group seeking to increase the number of women represented in the Capitol’s collection of statues includes the red-headed comedian on a list of California women who should be considered for Washington’s version of a national hall of fame.

Since 1864, each state has been authorized to place statues of two of its distinguished deceased citizens in the Capitol. Some are well-known figures such as humorist Will Rogers, who represents Oklahoma. But many are obscure. Take Julius Sterling Morton (the founder of Arbor Day), who represents Nebraska.

In recent years, states have moved to bring in better-known figures. Iowa last month substituted a statue of Norman Borlaug, known as the father of the Green Revolution, for a likeness of James Harlan, a 19th-century senator and Interior secretary.

California was among the first states to swap statues, bringing in Reagan in 2009 in place of Thomas Starr King, who had stood in the Capitol since 1931 but often drew puzzled looks. King, whose statue now resides in Sacramento, was a Unitarian minister who helped keep California in the Union.

The group, Equal Visibility Everywhere, which aims to promote gender parity in the symbols and icons of the United States, has been working to increase the number of women represented in the Capitol’s collection, a popular tourist attraction.

Of the 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection, nine are women — though Kansas plans to add a 10th, aviator Amelia Earhart.

Alabama in 2009 brought in Helen Keller, depicted as a 7-year-old holding her hand under a water pump in a scene made famous by the movie “The Miracle Worker.” (A statue of Rosa Parks was installed in the Capitol last year, but that is separate from the Statuary Hall collection.)

The group’s president, Lynette Long, has put together a list of possible women who could replace Father Junipero Serra, California’s other representative in the collection.

Her list includes famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, Pasadena-born chef Julia Child, naturalist Dian Fossey and Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first female lawyer in California, after whom the Los Angeles criminal courts building was named in 2002. Long also mentioned Shirley Temple Black, who died in February, as another possibility. And she welcomed suggestions from the public.

Replacement statues must be approved by a state’s legislature and governor, and the state must pay for the statue — usually by raising private funds.

Long, a psychologist who lives in Florida, began her campaign after taking a tour in the Capitol in 2010 and noticing so few women honored in the Statuary Hall collection, dispersed throughout the Capitol and its visitor center. Her efforts come as legislation to establish a commission to study the creation of a National Women’s History Museum in Washington has advanced in Congress.

Lucille Ball, who died in 1989, would be far more recognizable than a lot of other figures in the Capitol.

When she received Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, President Reagan joked that “on the occasion of little Ricky’s birth more people turned on ‘I Love Lucy’ than watched the inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower.”

And when President George H.W. Bush awarded her the Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1989, he said, “According to TV Guide, her face was seen by more people more often than the face of any human being who ever lived.”

If Ball ever does make it to Statuary Hall, the queen of TV would have some appropriate company. One of Utah’s statues honors inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, known as the “father of television.”

Crazy George via Flickr

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]