Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Something to Know - 21 September

It is very difficult to keep up with each and every event of "news" that permeates our media.  If you want to keep up with it all, you will seriously go nuts and go wanting for a lack of sleep.  So, just imagine that you are a drone, hovering over it all, and that you can use this point of observation to dart from one place to another, and get just enough to savor a taste of the despair, and go on to the next.   I use the NY Times headlines that pop up every day, as well as the Washington Post's and the LA Times same sampler.  Also skimming Axios and the Huffington Post, as well as a few other tidbits.  On occasion, I will drill down to a specific article that may offer something to know.   Right now, there is just too much out there (the new book by Woodward and Costa, the border by Del Rio, Trump's antics in insisting that Georgia declare him the winner, the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Allen Weisselberg, the election in Canada, the drought in the West....and on, and on, and on), and it is overwhelming.  So, I get to the point that  I need to quit trying to stay on top of it all.  Besides, I have my own life to live.   I just finished reading a good John Grisham novel (Gray Mountain), and am going for the book, Peril, asap.  So, that is why HCR is my comfort zone at the moment.  She presents us with a historical point, without posturing an opinion, and covers what we need to know.

So many stories landed today that some will have to wait. Tonight's news, though, boils down to Republican attempts to retake control of the government in the 2022 elections…and, if Trump has his way, even earlier. 

This morning, CNN revealed another bombshell story from the forthcoming book by veteran reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa: a six-point memo from pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman laying out a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to steal the 2020 election for Trump.

The memo started by falsely claiming that seven states had sent competing slates of electors to the President of the Senate; in fact, Trump loyalists demanded their own electors, but each state had certified one official slate of electors. If Pence—or, if Pence recused himself, the then–Senate president pro tempore, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley—rejected the ballots from those seven states, Eastman claimed, Trump would have ten more electoral votes than Biden and would win the election. 

When Democrats howled, Pence could instead assert that neither candidate had a majority and throw the election into the House of Representatives, where each state would get a single vote. Since 26 of the 50 states were dominated by Republicans, Trump would win there, too. 

"The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter," Eastman wrote. "We should take all of our actions with that in mind." 

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to convince Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to back the scheme; someone also ran the idea past Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah. Both dismissed it. But, notably, neither revealed this extraordinary attempt to destroy our democracy. 

When Pence ultimately refused to go along, Trump turned on him and told attendees at the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally that "if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." He explained that "the number one, or certainly one of the top, Constitutional lawyers in our country," had offered a plan, and that "Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us…." 

Aside from the obvious, Eastman's memo raises three interesting points. First, it refers to the idea that Pence might hand over the count to Grassley, a plan that needs more investigation. Second, it relies on the work of emeritus Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, who tweeted that it took snippets of his work out of context to create "a totally fake web of 'law' that no halfway decent lawyer would take seriously…. Ludicrous but scary as hell. Think 2024. Those guys mean business...." And, third, it debunks the current right-wing talking point that Trump wanted only to question the results of the election. Clearly, he wanted to be declared the winner. 

Even after President Joe Biden was sworn in, Trump supporters continued to insist that the election had been fraudulent. Famously, the Arizona state senate hired a company called Cyber Ninjas to reexamine the votes from Maricopa County, although the county board of supervisors, a majority of whom were Republicans, had already audited the ballots and the machines and found no problems. The county board strongly opposed the new "audit." 

The Cyber Ninjas examined ballots for bamboo to see if China had hacked the election, used insecure practices, rejected observers, and finally sent voting information to Montana for analysis. Documents released by the state senate under a court order in late August revealed that groups backed by pro-Trump loyalists Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and two correspondents from the One America News Network paid for the Arizona investigation.

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the state senate and the Cyber Ninjas had to release the records concerning their activities. Cyber Ninjas is refusing to do so, offering as a reason—among others—that it is busy writing its report (which is already four months late) and document production will take time away from that effort. Its lawyer says it will "produce documents out of goodwill and its commitment to transparency" when it has time, but does not recognize any legal obligation to do so.

Seeking an Arizona-type "audit" in Pennsylvania, Republicans in that state's legislature last Wednesday voted to issue subpoenas for personal information of about 6.9 million state voters, including names, addresses, birth dates, driver's license numbers, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Republicans say a private company needs that information to fix issues in election procedures uncovered in 2020, but the Republican leader of the investigation has declined to say how the information will be used.

Democrats sued Friday to stop the release of the voter information, and two Democratic representatives to Congress have asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether the subpoenas could violate federal laws by leading to voter intimidation. 

A new story sheds more light on the election reform Republicans are talking about. On May 6, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raised eyebrows when he signed a new election law in front of television cameras for the Fox News Channel, excluding all other media. While Republicans insisted they wrote new election laws to prevent voter fraud—despite the lack of evidence of any such widespread fraud—internal emails and text messages from Florida Republicans revealed today by Politico show that their concerns were actually about gaining advantage in the 2022 elections. 

Joe Gruters, the state senator who chairs the Florida Republican Party, repeatedly said in public that the new bill would "make it as easy as possible to vote, and hard as possible to cheat." But in private text exchanges with state representative Blaise Ingoglia, the former chair of the Florida party, Gruters called for getting rid of existing mail-in ballot requests, saying that keeping them would be "devastating," since Democrats used them more frequently than Republicans. "We cannot make up ground," Gruters wrote. "Trump campaign spent 10 million. Could not cut down lead…." Ingoglia told Politico: "This was a policy decision all along and had nothing to do with partisan reasons."

Finally, tonight, the immigration issue is back in the news. Republicans have tried to make immigration their key issue for 2022, but the terrible surge in coronavirus in Republican-dominated states like Texas has captured the news cycle. For the past few days, though, the rise in Haitian refugees on the U.S. southern border has reclaimed headlines. Haitians have long come to the southern border for admission to the U.S., but the recent earthquake in Haiti, along with the assassination of the country's president and hopes that the Biden administration will be welcoming, has brought 12,000–15,000 Haitians in the past few weeks. 

The situation there remains much as it has always been under Biden: the administration kept the public health guidelines established during the pandemic under former president Trump, and it is turning away most adult immigrants and refugees. It has been returning Haitians to Haiti by plane, with seven flights daily set to begin on Wednesday. 

But right-wing media is, once again, insisting that Biden is allowing a flood of immigrants to overrun the U.S. At the same time, images of white border patrol agents on horseback riding down Haitian migrants, with their reins swinging, has horrified those who see in them the history of southern slave patrols hunting enslaved Americans. The Biden administration will have to thread a very thin political needle: disavowing the actions of the border patrol agents without opening itself to Republican attacks that it is "soft" on immigration. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has launched an inquiry into the agents' behavior.

For his part, Trump does not want to wait until 2022 for a change in government. On Friday, he wrote to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger charging that 43,000 Georgia ballots were "invalid." He called for Raffensperger to decertify the 2020 election "and announce the true winner," warning that the nation "is being systematically destroyed by an illegitimate president and his administration." 

Trump is under criminal investigation in Georgia for his previous attempts to overturn the state's election results.















Stupidity and Ignorance based on cultural defiance, hatred, and fear is not, and cannot be, our destiny.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Something to Know (part 2) - 18 September

Last night, I prepared the draft to send for today's mailing, which should have already arrived.   Typical to form, HCR has presented this analysis and summation of the two forces of the Civil War, and how the politicians on each side made their persuasive arguments to gather support for the horrific loss of life that ensued.   What Prof. Richardson presents  today is to put a face on the continuing ideas of the Southern KKK on the events we see going on now.  History does offer lessons, and that we should learn from the past, and what our democracy should do now.

One hundred and fifty nine years ago this week, in 1862, 75,000 United States troops and about 38,000 Confederate troops massed along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. 

After a successful summer of fighting, Confederate general Robert E. Lee had crossed the Potomac River into Maryland to bring the Civil War to the North. He hoped to swing the slave state of Maryland into rebellion and to weaken Lincoln's war policies in the upcoming 1862 elections. For his part, Union general George McClellan hoped to finish off the southern Army of Northern Virginia that had snaked away from him all summer. 

The armies clashed as the sun rose about 5:30 on the clear fall morning of September 17, 159 years ago today. For twelve hours the men slashed at each other. Amid the smoke and fire, soldiers fell. Twelve hours later, more than 2000 U.S. soldiers lay dead and more than 10,000 of their comrades were wounded or missing. Fifteen hundred Confederates had fallen in the battle, and another 9000 or so were wounded or captured. The United States had lost 25% of its fighting force; the Confederates, 31%. The First Texas Infantry lost 82% of its men.

That slaughter was brought home to northern families in a novel way after the battle. Photographer Alexander Gardner, working for the great photographer Matthew Brady, brought his camera to Antietam two days after the guns fell silent. Until Gardner's field experiment, photography had been limited almost entirely to studios. People sent formal photos home and recorded family images for posterity, as if photographs were portraits.

Taking his camera outside, Gardner recorded seventy images of Antietam for people back home. His stark images showed bridges and famous generals, but they also showed rows of bodies, twisted and bloating in the sun as they awaited burial. By any standards these war photos were horrific, but to a people who had never seen anything like it before, they were earth-shattering.

White southern men had marched off to war in 1861 expecting that they would fight and win a heroic battle or two and that their easy victories over the northerners they dismissed as emasculated shopkeepers would enable them to create a new nation based in white supremacy. In the 1850s, pro-slavery lawmakers had taken over the United States government, but white southerners were a minority and they knew it. When the election of 1860 put into power lawmakers and a president who rejected their worldview, they decided to destroy the nation.

Eager to gain power in the rebellion, pro-secession politicians raced to extremes, assuring their constituencies that they were defending the true nature of a strong new country and that those defending the old version of the United States would never fight effectively. 

On March 21, 1861, the future vice president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, laid out the world he thought white southerners should fight for. He explained that the Founders were wrong to base the government on the principle that humans were inherently equal, and that northerners were behind the times with their adherence to the outdated idea that "the negro is equal, and…entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man." Confederate leaders had corrected the Founders' error. They had rested the Confederacy on the "great truth" that "the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

White southern leaders talked easily about a coming war, assuring prospective soldiers that defeating the United States Army would be a matter of a fight or, perhaps, two. South Carolina Senator James Chesnut Jr. assured his neighbors that there would be so few casualties he would be happy to drink all the blood shed in a fight between the South and the North. And so, poorer white southerners marched to war.

The July 1861 Battle of Bull Run put the conceit of an easy victory to rest. Although the Confederates ultimately routed the U.S. soldiers, the southern men were shocked at what they experienced. "Never have I conceived of such a continuous, rushing hailstorm of shot, shell, and musketry as fell around and among us for hours together," one wrote home. "We who escaped are constantly wondering how we could possibly have come out of the action alive." 

Northerners, too, had initially thought the war against the blustering southerners would be quick and easy, so quick and easy that some congressmen brought picnics to Bull Run to watch the fighting, only to get caught in the rout as soldiers ditched their rucksacks and guns and ran back toward the capital. Those at home, though, could continue to imagine the war as a heroic contest.

They could elevate the carnage, that is, until Matthew Brady exhibited Gardner's images of Antietam at his studio in New York City. People who saw the placard announcing "The Dead of Antietam" and climbed the stairs up to Brady's rooms to see the images found that their ideas about war were changed forever. 

"The dead of the battle-field come up to us very rarely, even in dreams," one reporter mused. "We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee. There is a confused mass of names, but they are all strangers; we forget the horrible significance that dwells amid the jumble of type." But Gardner's photographs erased the distance between the battlefield and the home front. They brought home the fact that every name on a casualty list "represents a bleeding, mangled corpse." "If [Gardner] has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it," the shocked reporter commented.

The horrific images of Antietam showed to those on the home front the real cost of war they had entered with bluster and flippant assurances that it would be bloodless and easy. Southern politicians had promised that white rebels fighting to create a nation whose legal system enshrined white supremacy would easily overcome a mongrel army defending the principle of human equality.  

The dead at Antietam's Bloody Lane and Dunker Church proved they were wrong. The Battle of Antietam was enough of a Union victory to allow President Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary emancipation proclamation, warning southern states that on January 1, 1863, "all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State," where people still fought against the United States, "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the…government of the United States…will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons...." 

Lincoln's proclamation meant that anti-slavery England would not formally enter the war on the side of the Confederates, dashing their hopes of foreign intervention, and in November 1863, Lincoln redefined the war as one not simply to restore the Union, but to protect a nation "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." 

To that principle, northerners and Black southerners rallied, despite the grinding horror of the battlefields, and in 1865, they defeated the Confederates.

But they did not defeat the idea the Confederates fought, killed, and died for: a nation in which the law distinguishes among people according to the color of their skin. Today, once again, politicians are telling their followers that such a hierarchy is the best way forward for America, and today, once again, those same politicians are urging supporters to violence against a government that defends the equality before the law for which the men at Antietam—and at Gettysburg and Cold Harbor, and at four years worth of battlefields across the country—gave their lives.


Stupidity and Ignorance based on cultural defiance, hatred, and fear is not, and cannot be, our destiny.

Something to Know - 18 September

A reader, and friend, passed the following piece from the Boston Globe.   It is a presentation and a subliminal message to reform the requirements (of which there are none, except for age and and birth) to prevent any future president from the same inherent weaknesses that allowed a Trump type authoritarian fascist from running for the office.   My take away from this reading is that instead of putting the jerk in an orange jumpsuit and locking him up for a while, it would be more patriotic and easier to put in place the same vetting that one goes through to be an FBI agent, or just about any super sensitive job in city, county, state of federal level that weeds out those who are not qualified for the job.  Doing this would assure that any future person aspiring for the presidency (and this would include Trump himself) would not bring undesirable qualifications to carry out the job.  It seems that this would be adding to the list of who needs to pass a civil service exam and meet the qualifications as any other public servant.   We should require no less of anyone running for office.

From the moment that Donald Trump took office, he began to profit personally from holding the office of the presidency. Here, President-elect Trump arrives to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington Jan. 20, 2017.

From the moment that Donald Trump took office, he began to profit personally from holding the office of the presidency. Here, President-elect Trump arrives to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington Jan. 20, 2017.

A treasure map for an American tyrant

Donald Trump exposed the weaknesses in our system of government that could now be exploited by a corrupt leader with control of the White House. In this series, the Globe editorial board outlines the urgent reforms needed to prevent the rise of an American tyrant — and to protect our democracy for posterity.


Stupidity and Ignorance based on cultural defiance, hatred, and fear is not, and cannot be, our destiny.
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Friday, September 17, 2021

Something to Know - 17 September

Today's presentation by HCR lays out a whole bunch of junk perpetrated by the right-wing dark side.   It contains all the reasons why people get on big boats that sail around the various seas of the world for about 30 days or more (or until the money runs out) and return to home port with hopes and wishes that this bad nightmare has gone away.   Meanwhile, the GI-Joes will put on their finest military costumes for their "rally" in DC tomorrow.  Have a good weekend watching it all go by.

Disgraced retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn is endorsing candidates for office.

Flynn advised former president Trump's 2016 campaign and was Trump's first national security adviser. He served for just 22 days before having to resign after news broke that he had lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. 

Flynn pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" lying to the FBI but withdrew the plea two weeks before sentencing. Then–attorney general William Barr directed the Department of Justice to drop all charges against Flynn before former president Donald Trump pardoned him on November 25, 2020. 

Just days later, Flynn retweeted a news release from a right-wing Ohio group called "We the People Convention." That release contained a petition asking Trump to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, silence the media, and have the military "oversee a national re-vote" of the 2020 election. The petition ended by calling on Trump "to boldly act to save our nation…. We will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands, and defend our rights on our own, if you do not act within your powers to defend us."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley immediately opposed Flynn's suggestion. He distanced the military from talk of a coup. "Our military is very very capable… we are determined to defend the U.S. Constitution," he said. "No one should doubt that." A defense official told Military Times that the idea of Trump declaring martial law and having the military redo the election is "insane in a year that we didn't think could get anymore insane."

But Trump did not back down. On December 2, he released a video he said was "maybe the most important speech I've ever made." It was a 46-minute rant insisting that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he won the 2020 election. While he lost virtually every court challenge he mounted and his own attorney general, William Barr, said there was no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election, Trump insisted that there was "massive" voter fraud and called on the Supreme Court to "do what's right for our country," including throwing out hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes so "I very easily win in all states."

Flynn had been an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy, taking an oath to it on July 4, 2020. On January 8, 2021, Twitter permanently banned Flynn, along with others who were promoting the views of the QAnon conspiracy that Trump actually won the 2020 election.  

But, far from disappearing, Flynn has continued to speak to pro-Trump groups and to rebuild his brand, going so far in May as to call for a coup in the U.S. like that happening in Myanmar, where in February the military seized power from the democratically elected government. 

Flynn appears to be regaining ground among Trump loyalists. Yesterday, in Michigan, he endorsed a Republican candidate for secretary of state, the official in charge of elections. The candidate, Kristina Karamo, tweeted that she was honored to receive the endorsement of Flynn, whom she called "a victim of political persecution" who "continues to fight fearlessly for [America]. His selflessness, wisdom, and kindness encourages us all."

Today, Flynn endorsed Eric Greitens for a Missouri senate seat. Greitens resigned from the Missouri governorship in 2018, after accusations that he had threatened and assaulted an affair partner and suggestions that he had used an email list from a nonprofit for his political campaign. Greitens resigned in disgrace but is trying to relaunch his political career as a Trump supporter, running for the Senate seat of retiring Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. Greitens has picked up the endorsements of a number of Trump loyalists, although he has not yet received the endorsement of Trump, despite courting it quite eagerly. 

In his announcement of support for Greitens, Flynn made a play for the leadership of the MAGA movement by attacking the Republicans who refused to get on board with Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election. 

His announcement played off Tuesday's news that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who had opposed his talk of a military coup to keep Trump in office, had reassured his Chinese counterpart that the United States would not attack without provocation and notice despite the former president's erratic and dangerous behavior during the last weeks of his term. Trump Republicans are demanding Milley's resignation, but their determination to undermine Milley by portraying him as a tool of what they are calling the "radical left" has been evident for a while. In the spring, Republican lawmakers complained that, as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, "Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn [the military] into pansies." Milley defended the idea that it is important "for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read" and said, "I want to understand white rage, and I'm white, and I want to understand it." Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson called him "a pig" and "stupid."

In his message endorsing Greitens, Flynn brought these themes together and seemed to be trying to advance his own future in the government in place of Trump: "America needs fighters," he said. "Worse than the radical leftists, the corrupt Deep State, the mainstream media, and Big Tech are the feckless and spineless Republicans who have utterly surrendered…. [T]hose who betrayed President Trump the most were not the leftists but the cowardly Republicans in Name Only…. We don't need any more insiders or career politicians in Washington, especially not those with ties to the Chinese Communist Party," an apparent reference to Milley's calls with his counterpart in China. Flynn applauded Greitens' suggestion that the 2020 election was stolen, and then said he was proud to stand with Greitens "in our shared mission to revive our Republic."

Flynn seems to be trying to pick up Trump's falling mantle as the former president himself appears to be losing relevance. 

In Tuesday's recall election in California, Democrats framed the choice as one between Governor Gavin Newsom and his Trump-like chief rival, and voters resoundingly rejected the Republican. Even among Trump's usual base, his appeal seems to be fading. According to sportswriter Dan Rafael, who specializes in boxing, sources have told him that the September 11 fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort—the fight Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., commented on—garnered only about 150,000 pay-per-view buys, which means it grossed about $7.5 million. This is, Rafael says "a massive $ loser…not remotely close to covering even the purses, not to mention rest of expenses."

Flynn's attempt to reinsert himself into American politics is a story that I'm watching, but the bigger news today is coming out of China, where the country's second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group, is tottering. Evergrande has assets of $355 billion; it employs 200,000 staff members and hires about 3.8 million people a year for its different projects. 

The slowing property markets in China and a government crackdown on reckless borrowing have weakened the huge entity. Its collapse would destabilize Chinese banks. People worried about the safety of their investments, and vendors worrying they will not be paid have begun to protest outside the company's main headquarters; they have been removed by security. Observers expect the Chinese government will help to manage any forthcoming collapse, but the ripples from such a failure will likely be felt around the world.


















Stupidity and Ignorance based on cultural defiance, hatred, and fear is not, and cannot be, our destiny.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Something to Know - 16 Septenber

Today is the celebration of Mexico's Independence from Spain.   Keep that in mind as you read HCR's piece this morning.  She is showing signs of growing weary of the constant challenges to our Democracy from destructive elements from within, and trying to react by lecturing and writing as we follow through with her, each day.  She writes and we read.   As the voices of insurrection create more division, it is clear to me that the opposition is marginalizing itself into greater heights as it stumbles over itself to see who is more right wing in its posturing.  It may get ugly this weekend in DC as the MAGA zealots find that the Capitol and Metro Police, along with the Department of Defense showing  that they are more than ready this time.   Soon, we may be able to go about our daily lives without the spectre of insurrection masquerading as militant patriotism.

Today's news can wait for tomorrow. Tonight, a thank-you.

Exactly two years ago today, after about a six-week hiatus during the summer, I wrote a Facebook post that started: "Many thanks to all of you who have reached out to see if I'm okay. I am, indeed (aside from having been on the losing end of an encounter with a yellow jacket this afternoon!). I've been moving, setting up house, and finishing the new book. Am back and ready to write, but now everything seems like such a dumpster fire it's very hard to know where to start. So how about a general overview of how things at the White House look to me, today...."

I went on to explain that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), had written a letter to then–acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, on Friday, September 13, telling Maguire he knew that a whistleblower had filed a complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who had deemed the complaint "credible" and "urgent." This meant that the complaint was supposed to be sent on to the House Intelligence Committee. But, rather than sending it to the House as the law required, Maguire had withheld it. Schiff's letter told Maguire that he knew about the complaint and that Maguire had better hand it over. Schiff speculated that Maguire was covering up evidence of crimes by the president or his closest advisors.

Readers swamped me with questions. So I wrote another post answering them and explaining the news, which began breaking at a breathtaking pace.

And so, these Letters from an American were born.

In the two years since then, we have lived through the Ukraine scandal—the secret behind the whistleblower complaint in Schiff's letter—which revealed that then-president Trump was secretly running his own foreign policy team to strong-arm Ukraine into helping the president's reelection campaign.

We lived through the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October 2019, leaving our former Kurdish allies to be murdered by Turkish troops. ISIS freed compatriots from jails and launched new attacks, and Russian troops moved into the positions we had held in the region.

We lived through the impeachment hearings, the trial of former president Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, then the president's acquittal on those charges and his subsequent purge of career government officials and their replacement with Trump loyalists.

Then, on February 7, just two days after Senate Republicans acquitted him, Trump picked up the phone and called veteran journalist Bob Woodward to tell him there was a deadly new virus spreading around the world. It was airborne, he explained, and was five times "more deadly than even your strenuous flus." "This is deadly stuff," he said. He would not share that information with other Americans, though, continuing to play down the virus in hopes of protecting the economy.

The pandemic, more than 660,000 of us—1 American in 500—have not lived through.

We have, though, lived through the attempts of the former president to rig the 2020 election, the determination of American voters to make their voices heard, the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd, the election of Democrat Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and the subsequent refusal of Trump and his loyalists to accept Biden's win.

And we have lived through the unthinkable: an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob determined to overrule the results of an election and install their own candidate in the White House. For the first time in our history, the peaceful transfer of power was broken.

Rather than disappearing after the inauguration of President Biden, the reactionary authoritarianism of the former president's supporters has grown stronger. Senate Republicans acquitted Trump for a second time in his second impeachment trial-- this time for incitement of insurrection-- and in Republican-dominated states across the country, legislatures have passed laws to suppress Democratic voting and to put the counting of votes into partisan hands.

We have seen the attempts of Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress to move America past this dark moment by making coronavirus vaccines widely available and passing the American Rescue Plan to rebuild the economy. We have watched the U.S. withdraw from the longest war in our history, losing 13 military personnel in the exit from Afghanistan that brought out more than 130,000 evacuees.

And we are, today, watching the fight over the survival of our democracy.

If you are tired, you have earned the right to be.

And yet, you are still here, reading.

I write these letters because I love America. I am staunchly committed to the principle of human self-determination for people of all races, genders, abilities, and ethnicities, and I believe that American democracy could be the form of government that comes closest to bringing that principle to reality. And I know that achieving that equality depends on a government shaped by fact-based debate rather than by extremist ideology and false narratives.

And so I write.

But I have come to understand that I am simply the translator for the sentiments shared by hundreds of thousands of people who are finding each other and giving voice to the principles of democracy. Your steadfast interest, curiosity, critical thinking, and especially your kindness—to me and to one another—illustrates that we have not only the power, but also the passion, to reinvent our nation.

To those who read these letters, send tips, proofread, criticize, comment, argue, worry, cheer, award medals (!), and support me and one another: I thank you all for taking me along on this wild, unexpected, exhausting, and exhilarating journey.



Stupidity and Ignorance based on cultural defiance, hatred, and fear is not, and cannot be, our destiny.