Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Something to Remember - 20 January 2021

Once in a while a story, or link, or something of real interest keeps bumping into you everywhere you go on the internet.   Such is this one.   It can be said that you never know how bad it is until you find yourself at, or near, the bottom.  Max S. Gordon is at that location, and he is here to tell you all about it.  He credits Trump for being so inept and reckless in his vision of Racist White Supremacy, that he exposed the professional white supremecists to go down the same rat hole.   I won't go any further, but say that this one for the ages.   This will be effective every day of of the byline that greets the subject line of this page.  It is a long read, but you will be rewarded in knowing at the end that even though Democracy may have died, that it will return in a new form, and better than the last.    This is being sent out on 19th; for a good reason.


aftermath: Surviving As A Nation After Donald J. Trump

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By Max S. Gordon

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WRITTEN BY

Max S. Gordon is a writer and activist. His work has appeared in on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. Follow Max on twitter:@maxgordon19

 

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Juan

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know - 19 January

There is nothing more than to observe the passing of a dark and dangerous period.  Make no mistake, Trump's departure by itself, means that all is okay.   What has happened is that we have been privy to what is wrong with America, and we are left to decide what we are going to do about it.   One thing I know for sure is that I will be more open to action that repairs our ailments.  Democracy is not a spectator sport, and too many of us have just sat back as we allowed trespassers to romp and trash our form of government.  I could go on, but suffice it to say, as the despicable example of allowing a freak like trump into our daily lives, we now should all know better.   Professor Cox Richardson does her best to put a black ribbon around our past four years, as we go forward to a better day.

January 18, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson
Jan 19 



The Trump administration is winding down as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to take office on Wednesday.

Trump will leave office with an approval rating of 34%, dismal by any measure. He is the first president since Gallup began polling never to break 50% approval. After the attack on the Capitol on January 6, the House of Representatives impeached him for a second time, and a majority of Americans think he should have been removed from office.

In the last days of his term, the area of Washington, D.C., around our government buildings has been locked down to guard against further terrorism. Our tradition of a peaceful transition of power, established in 1800, has been broken. There is a 7-foot black fence around the Capitol and 15,000 National Guard soldiers on duty in a bitterly cold Washington January. There are checkpoints and road closures near the center of the city, and 10,000 more troops are authorized if necessary. Another 4,000 are on duty in their states, protecting key buildings and infrastructure sites.

In the past two days, there have been more indications that members of the Trump administration were behind the January 6 coup attempt. Yesterday, Richard Lardner and Michelle R. Smith of the Associated Press broke the story that, far from being a grassroots rally, the event of January 6 that led to the storming of the Capitol was organized and staffed by members of Trump's presidential campaign team. These staffers have since tried to distance themselves from it, deleting their social media accounts and refusing to answer questions from reporters.

A number of the arrested insurrectionists have claimed that they were storming the Capitol because the president told them to. According to lawyers Teri Kanefield and Mark Reichel, writing in the Washington Post, this is known as the "public authority" defense, meaning that if someone in authority tells you it's okay to break a law, that advice is a defense when you are arrested. It doesn't mean you won't be punished, but it is a defense. It also means that the person offering you that instruction is more likely to be prosecuted.

The second impeachment, popular outcry, and continuing stories about the likely involvement of administration figures in the coup attempt seem to have trimmed Trump's wings in his last days in office. He is issuing orders that Biden vows to overturn, and contemplating pardons (stories say those around him are selling access to him to advocate for those pardons), but otherwise today was quiet.

He has tried to install a loyalist as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency, either to burrow him in or to get the green light for dumping NSA documents before he leaves office; Biden's team will fight what is clearly an attempt to politicize the position. Tonight, Census Director Steven Dillingham resigned after whistleblowers alleged that he and other political appointees were putting pressure on department staffers to issue a hasty and unresearched report on undocumented immigrants.

According to news reports, Trump is planning to leave Washington on the morning of January 20 and should be at his Florida club Mar-a-Lago by the time Biden and Harris are sworn in. The last president to miss a successor's inauguration was Andrew Johnson, who in 1869 refused to attend Ulysses S. Grant's swearing-in, and instead spent the morning signing last-minute bills to put in place before Grant took office.

There is a lot of chatter tonight about the release today of the 1776 Report guidelines on American history. This is the administration's reply to the 1619 Project from the New York Times, which focused on America's history of racism. As historian Torsten Kathke noted on Twitter, none of the people involved in compiling today's 41-page document are actually historians. They are political scientists and Republican operatives who have produced a full-throated attack on progressives in American history as well as a whitewashed celebration of the U.S.A. Made up of astonishingly bad history, this document will not stand as anything other than an artifact of Trump's hatred of today's progressives and his desperate attempt to wrench American history into the mythology he and his supporters promote so fervently.

But aside from the bad history, the report is a fascinating window into the mindset of this administration and its supporters. In it, the United States of America has been pretty gosh darned wonderful since the beginning, and has remained curiously static. "[T]he American people have ever pursued freedom and justice," it reads, and while "neither America nor any other nation has perfectly lived up to the universal truths of equality, liberty, justice, and government by consent," "no nation… has strived harder, or done more, to achieve them."

America seems to have sprung up in 1776 in a form that was fine and finished. But, according to the document's authors, trouble began in the 1890s, when "progressives" demanded that the Constitution "should constantly evolve to secure evolving rights." It was at that moment the teaching of history took a dark turn.

The view that America was born whole, has stayed the same, and is simply a prize worth possessing reminds me of so much of the world of Trump and the people around him, characterized by acquisition: buildings, planes, yachts, clothing, bank accounts. Trump and his people seem to see the world as a zero-sum game in which the winners have the most stuff, and America is just one more thing to possess.

But there is a big difference in this world between having and doing.

America has never fully embodied equality, liberty, and justice. What it has always had was a dream of justice and equality before the law. The 1776 Report authors are right to note that was an astonishing dream in 1776, and it made this country a beacon of radical hope. It was enough to inspire people from all walks of life to try to make that dream a reality. They didn't have an ideal America; they worked to make one.

The hard work of doing is rarely the stuff of heroic biographies of leading men. It is the story of ordinary Americans who were finally pushed far enough that they put themselves on the line for this nation's principles.

It is the story, for example, of abolitionist newspaperman Elijah P. Lovejoy, murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837, and the U.S. soldiers who twenty-four years later fought to protect the government against a pro-slavery insurrection designed to destroy it. It is the story of Lakota leader Red Cloud, who negotiated with hostile government leaders on behalf of his people, and of his contemporary Booker T. Washington, who tried to find a way for Black people to rise in the heart of the South in a time of widespread lynching. It is the story of Nebraska politician William Jennings Bryan, who gave voice to suffering farmers and workers in the 1890s, and of Frances Perkins, who carried his ideas forward as FDR's Secretary of Labor and brought us Social Security. It is the story of the American G.I.s, from all races, ethnicities, genders, and walks of life who fought in WWII. It is the story of labor organizer Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, and Fannie Lou Hamer, who faced down men bent on murdering her and became an advocate for Black voting. It is the story of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who 60 years ago this week warned us against the "military-industrial complex."

And it is, of course, the story of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we celebrate today. King challenged white politicians to take on poverty as well as racism to make the promise of America come true for all of us. "Some forty million of our brothers and sisters are poverty stricken, unable to gain the basic necessities of life," he reminded white leaders in May 1967. "And so often we allow them to become invisible because our society's so affluent that we don't see the poor. Some of them are Mexican Americans. Some of them are Indians. Some are Puerto Ricans. Some are Appalachian whites. The vast majority are Negroes in proportion to their size in the population…. Now there is nothing new about poverty. It's been with us for years and centuries. What is new at this point though, is that we now have the resources, we now have the skills, we now have the techniques to get rid of poverty. And the question is whether our nation has the will…." Just eleven months later, a white supremacist murdered Dr. King.

These people did not have a perfect nation, they worked to build one. They embraced America so fully they tried to bring its principles to life, sometimes at the cost of their own. Rather than simply trying to own America, the doers put skin in the game.

Today, the Trump administration issued the 1776 Report that presented the United States of America as a prize to be possessed. And yet, the country is demonstrably still in the process of being created: tonight, there are 15,000 soldiers in the cold in Washington, D.C., defending the seat of our government against insurgents.

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Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/01/11/public-authority-trump-mob-capitol/

https://thehill.com/homenews/534722-trump-gets-lowest-job-approval-rating-in-final-days-as-president

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2021/01/18/15000-national-guard-troops-now-in-dc-for-inauguration-in-operation-named-joint-task-force-district-of-columbia/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/The-Presidents-Advisory-1776-Commission-Final-Report.pdf

https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-capitol-siege-campaigns-elections-d14c78d53b3a212658223252fec87e99

Torsten Kathke:


Torsten Kathke
@torstenkathke
Many others are already parsing the report of the 1776 Commission. This much here: It's a propagandist hack job.

What interested me were the people involved with it.

(They're pretty much who you would expect them to be.)
January 18th 2021

749 Retweets1,964 Likes
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/commerce-immigrant-data

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/the-nsa-is-moving-forward-to-install-michael-ellis-a-former-gop-operative-as-its-top-lawyer-the-agency-said-sunday/2021/01/17/b8430e8c-58e2-11eb-a976-bad6431e03e2_story.html





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Juan

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Why the Senate Should Vote to Impeach and Convict Trump

There is a belief among many that Trump should not be convicted in the Senate on Article 1 when his impeachment is sent from the House to the Senate.  Any lack of support is based on a politically cowardly feeling that it would do nothing but further the division in this country.   This article by Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times should be shared with those folks.  I am almost 80 years of age, and have voted in almost every election since I was old enough.  Having served in the military, I do have some sense of the seriousness of why we are called upon to serve, and why.   I am absolutely disgusted on how some inept, politically corrupt, and dangerous figure was able to become our president.   If ever there was a time to confront a force that exists to tear down our Democracy, it is now.   Those who masquerade as faux paramilitary with the ugliness of massive weaponry, hiding their white supremacy and fascism, need to be called out now and dealt with.  As this article points out, the identification and subsequent justice for anarchy, subversion, sedition, and incitement to violence has to be recognized and acted upon forcefully - and that begins at the top with Trump.  We need to recognize the division and make a decision and act accordingly.  A divided country cannot coexist.  Who are we, and does this "experiment" in Democracy end in the hands of ignorant fools?



The House Judiciary Committee's impeachment report quotes, at length, the speech that Donald Trump gave to his devotees on Jan. 6 before many of them stormed the Capitol, baying for execution.
"We've got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren't any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them," said President Trump. He urged his minions to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the place where Congress was meeting to certify the election he lost: "Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."
A week later, Representative Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, would vote to get rid of him, joining nine of her fellow Republicans in backing impeachment. "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack," she said in a statement, adding, "There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."


Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Half of all presidential impeachments since the Republic began have been impeachments of Trump. This latest impeachment is different than the first, and not just because it was bipartisan. It culminates a week in which Trump has finally faced the broad social pariahdom he's always deserved.


When a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol, killing one policeman and pummeling others, it also tore down a veil. Suddenly, all but the most fanatical partisans admitted that Trump was exactly who his fiercest critics have always said he was.
Banks promised to stop lending to him. Major social media companies banned him. One of the Trump Organization's law firms dropped it as a client. The coach of the New England Patriots rejected the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the P.G.A. pulled its namesake tournament from a Trump golf course. Universities revoked honorary degrees. Some of the country's biggest corporations, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pledged to withhold donations from congressional enablers of his voter fraud fantasy. Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would end contracts with the Trump Organization to run two ice rinks and other concessions worth millions annually.
Trumpists often whine about being ostracized — Melania Trump being snubbed by Vogue seems a particular sore point — but watching all these institutions reject the president now is a reminder of how many didn't do so earlier.
At the beginning of the president's reign, I expected this moment of widespread repudiation to come quickly. But Trump survived the special counsel investigation. He survived his first impeachment. When he seemed poised to retain his political influence even after losing a presidential election, I despaired of a reckoning ever coming at all. "When this is all over, nobody will admit to ever having supported it," David Frum tweeted in 2019. Two weeks ago, that seemed like wishful thinking.


There's a bleak sort of relief in the arrival, after everything, of comeuppance. The question is whether it's too late, whether the low-grade insurgency that the president has inspired and encouraged will continue to terrorize the country that's leaving him behind.
"This was an armed violent rebellion at the very seat of government, and the emergency is not over," Representative Jamie Raskin, the Democrats' lead impeachment manager, told me. "So we have to use every means at our disposal to reassert the supremacy of constitutional government over chaos and violence."


The siege of the Capitol wasn't a departure for Trump, it was an apotheosis. For years, he's been telling us he wouldn't accept an election loss. For years, he's been urging his followers to violence, refusing to condemn their violence, and insinuating that even greater violence was on the way. As he told Breitbart in 2019, in one of his characteristic threats, "I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."


Jan. 6 wasn't even the first time Trump cheered an armed siege of an American capitol; he did that last spring when gun-toting anti-lockdown activists stormed the Michigan statehouse. Later, after news emerged of a plot to kidnap and publicly execute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Trump said, "I mean, we'll have to see if it's a problem. Right? People are entitled to say maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn't."
It is shocking that Trump didn't act when Congress could have faced a mass hostage-taking, or worse. It is not surprising.
Throughout his presidency, Republicans pretended not to hear what the president was saying. For the last few months, Republican election officials in Georgia have spoken with mounting desperation of being barraged with death threats as a result of Trump's ceaseless lies about the election, but national Republicans did little to restrain him. There was no exodus away from the president and his brand when, during the debates, he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power and told the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."



The far right took heart from the president's winks and nods, retweets and outright displays of support. "Donald Trump, ever since his campaign, throughout his four years in office, has done nothing but pander to these people," Daryl Johnson, a former senior intelligence analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, told me.
Now a private security consultant, Johnson was caught in a political tempest during the Obama administration, when, at D.H.S., he wrote a report warning of a "resurgence in right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity," including efforts to recruit veterans. Republicans were apoplectic, seeing the report as an effort to brand conservatives as potential terrorists. Johnson's unit was disbanded and he left government.
Under Trump, political pressure on federal law enforcement to ignore the far right would only grow. After a white supremacist killed 23 people in a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, Dave Gomez, a former F.B.I. supervisor overseeing terrorism cases, told The Washington Post that the agency was "hamstrung" in trying to investigate white nationalists. "There's some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base," said Gomez.
The violent far right appears to have been emboldened by the experience of being treated as valued constituents. "The problem existed before him, but it's really flourished even more under his administration," Johnson said of Trump.
This is a departure from previous patterns, Johnson said: Right-wing extremist activity usually abates during Republican administrations, when conservatives feel less existentially threatened. But Trump kept the far right's paranoia and sense of grievance at a constant boil, and gave them permission to act. The people at the Capitol who said they were there because the president wanted them to be weren't necessarily delusional.
The Trump Impeachment ›
From Riot to Impeachment
The riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, followed a rally at which President Trump made an inflammatory speech to his supporters, questioning the results of the election. Here's a look at what happened and at the ongoing fallout:
As this video shows, poor planning and a restive crowd encouraged by Mr. Trump set the stage for the riot.
A two hour period was crucial to turning the rally into the riot.
Several Trump administration officials, including cabinet members Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, announced that they were stepping down as a result of the riot.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 70 people, including some who appeared in viral photos and videos of the riot. Officials expect to eventually charge hundreds of others.
The House voted to impeach the president on charges of "inciting an insurrection" that led to the rampage by his supporters.




But there's no reason to believe that the threat will recede when Trump is gone. Johnson believes it's going to get worse, and he's not alone. A recent federal intelligence bulletin warns, "Amplified perceptions of fraud surrounding the outcome of the General Election and the change in control of the Presidency and Senate," along with fear of what the new administration has in store, will "very likely will lead to an increase in DVE violence." DVE stands for "domestic violent extremists."
Already, Washington looks like a war zone. Joe Biden's inauguration next week will be closed to the public. Representative Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment, said on MSNBC that he and some of his colleagues are buying body armor: "Our expectation is that someone may try to kill us."

The end of Trump's presidency has shaken American stability as even 9/11 did not, and that's before you factor in around 4,000 people a day dying of Covid-19.
Making Trump face consequences for trying to overturn the election will not, by itself, stop the disorder he's instigated. But it may be a precondition for making the country governable. "The time to stop tyrants and despots is when you first see them breaking from the demands of law," said Raskin. Trump, he said, "has been indulged and protected for so long by some of his colleagues that he brought us to the brink of hell in the Capitol of the United States."
An animating irony of Trumpism — one common among authoritarians — is that it revels in lawlessness while glorifying law and order. "This is the central contradiction-slash-truth of authoritarian regimes," said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an N.Y.U. historian and the author of "Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present." She cited Mussolini's definition of fascism as a "revolution of reaction." Fascism had a radical impulse to overturn the existing order, "to liberate extremism, lawlessness, but it also claims to be a reaction to bring order to society."
The same is true of Trump's movement. Central to Trump's mystique is that he breaks rules and gets away with it. To reassert the rule of law, said Ben-Ghiat, "showing the world that he cannot in fact get away with it" is crucial.
That is part of the work of the second impeachment. This impeachment may be as much a burden for Democrats as for Republicans; a Senate trial would surely postpone some of the urgent business of the Biden administration. It has gone forward because Democrats had no choice if they wanted to defend our increasingly fragile system of government.
The very fact that Raskin will lead the prosecution of Trump in the Senate is a sign of the solemnity with which Democrats are approaching it. As you've perhaps read by now, Raskin recently suffered the most gutting loss imaginable. Tormented by depression, his 25-year-old son, "a radiant light in this broken world," as Raskin and his wife wrote in a eulogy, took his own life on Dec. 31, "the last hellish brutal day of that godawful miserable year of 2020."



Raskin buried his son on Jan. 5, the day before he went to the Capitol to count the electoral vote. His youngest daughter didn't want him to go; he felt he had to be there but invited her and his other daughter's husband to come with him. When the mob breached the building, Raskin was on the House floor, and his daughter and son-in-law were in an office with his chief of staff. "The kids were hiding under a desk," he said. "They had pushed as much furniture as they could up against the door, but people were banging at the door."
That day, Raskin began working with his colleagues to draft both an article of impeachment and a resolution calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
I asked him why, after all he's endured, he wanted to lead the effort to bring Trump to trial. "I've devoted my life and career to the defense of our democracy and our people," said Raskin, who was a constitutional law professor before he was a congressman. Then he said: "My son is in my heart, and in my chest I feel him every day. And Tommy was a great lover of human freedom and democracy and he would want me to be doing whatever I'm asked to do to defend democracy against chaos and fascism."
It is not yet clear who Raskin will be up against. Prominent law firms have refused to represent Trump in his postelection legal fights, and Bloomberg News reports that lawyers who have defended the president in the past don't want to do so anymore. For four years, as Trump has brought ever more havoc and hatred to this country, many have wondered what it would take to dent his impunity. The answer appears to be twofold: Committing sedition, and losing power.


The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We'd like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here's our email: letters@nytimes.com.
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Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women's rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn

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Juan

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.