AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW? (Part 2)

Image from pixabay.com

Following Wednesday’s Insurrection at the Capitol

An incredibly brave Not-Soon-Enough-President Biden boldly denounced both Trump-the-inciter and the “domestic terrorists” (good for him for using the term) who ransacked the Capitol last Wednesday.

It’s worth noting that Biden has stated that he’d decided he had to run for President after Charlottesville, when Trump referred to the white supremacists as some of the “good people on both sides.”

Even before he selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, they had both framed this election against Trump as the “battle for the soul of the nation.”

And though the election is over, that battle is not.

Several commentators have compared this period to Reconstruction. The heightened awareness of racial injustice that led to peaceful demonstrations joined by a huge swath of diverse Americans showed that the “arc of Justice” could be bending once more toward equality.

The fact that President Biden won with so much support from Black Americans, that he publicly said “I have your backs,” was just what the white supremacists feared most.

With grievances against an increasingly multicolored nation continually stoked by their hero in the Oval Office, these self-styled patriots have been organizing for action for some time.

They believed Trump’s Big Lie that the election had been stolen from him/them—a lie fueled by right-wing media and cowardly elected Republicans—and saw themselves as revolutionaries.

The run-off election in Georgia, the state whose Senators Herman Talmadge and Richard Russell had fought against President Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights legislation in 1964, had just given Democrats control over the Senate.

That development must have simply heightened the fury in these hate-filled insurrectionists.

And what could have been more quintessentially American—and thus more infuriating to them—than this duo of the Senate’s newest members: (in Jon Ossoff’s words) “a Jewish son of immigrants and a Black preacher”?

(I can’t help wondering how Jared Kushner felt when he watched his father-in-law goad a sea of people ready to pounce, some of them wearing sweatshirts reading “University of Auschwitz” above a skull; others wearing apparel bearing the initials “6MNE,” which stands for “six million not enough”—more Jews should die. Perhaps Kushner thought the angry mobs would spare him because of his exalted position.)

So let’s not forget that Trump’s determination to invalidate primarily the votes of Black Americans was no accident. And the far right domestic terrorism, which some former Trump Administration officials have warned is a major danger to our national security, is at the very heart of our current situation.

We are at Reconstruction 2.0. And we damned well better get it right this time. No turning back. Never Trumper Stuart Stevens dubbed the then-14 Senators threatening to overturn the election results “the Jim Crow caucus”—an apt name, I believe.

Enter the Speaker

The other incredibly brave American in this period is Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, whose office was violated by the terrorists and is one of their favored targets.

Pelosi knows she’s third in the line of succession. With an “unhinged, dangerous” man in the Oval Office, and the Vice President seemingly immobilized, she has stepped into the breach.

One of her most important acts was to ask General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assure her (and the nation) that Trump couldn’t access the nuclear codes. She received that assurance.

A consensus appears to be mounting that Trump is too erratic and dangerous to remain in his position even for the next 11 days. Pelosi said her caucus has determined they must act.

Since Trump will not resign, and Pence has declined to explore a 25th amendment move for removal by the Cabinet (even though some have said they’d go along with it), the House Democrats have decided on impeachment.

The sentiment is that after Trump committed such abhorrent acts, it is essential to try to remove him—or at least go on record as having gone beyond mere censure.

You can read a draft of the single Article of Impeachment here. It will be introduced on Monday. To date, Mitch McConnell has said he will recess the Senate until January 19—essentially throwing the vote into the next Senate.

Perhaps, at this critical juncture, he can be pressured to act like a responsible legislator? Probably not. This is his last shameful act as Senate Majority Leader.

Constitutional scholar Lawrence Tribe is one of many who support the House action. In the Washington Post, he wrote:

“By approving articles of impeachment, the House would give the Senate the option to swiftly convene, try, convict and remove the president — and, upon a separate vote, disqualify him from future officeholding. (emphases mine)

“To be sure, the Senate may lack the willingness or the time to hold a trial. Still, the very pendency of articles — and the possibility of trial and conviction — may itself chill Trump’s worst impulses as he contemplates his final days as president. And it appears as though there is now bipartisan support in the Senate for serious consideration of articles of impeachment.

“In any event, if the House approves articles of impeachment but the Senate does not act before he leaves office, those articles will mark the historical record, serve as a valuable deterrent in the interim and draw a line against future abuses. (Scholars debate whether an impeachment may proceed against a former official.)

“The impeachment power must never be exercised lightly. But the House would be fully justified in finding that Trump’s incitement of mob violence against the United States government warrants that drastic remedy.”

The hope of many is that there will be a legitimate way to rule out the possibility of Trump ever running for office again.

Once the Biden administration takes over, the prosecutions will be up to the incoming Justice Department. I was pleased to read that Lisa Monaco, who will be Deputy Attorney General to Merrick Garland, is considered a “badass”—a tough, strong woman.

So I think things are moving in the right direction now. But there’s one enormous gap that worries me still.

When previous major national events have occurred, we’ve received briefings from those in charge. But aside from a single news conference with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, there has been no information about how this terrible national security breach occurred.

It seems highly likely, as Rep. Jim Clyburn has stated, that the insurrectionists received help from inside the Capitol. The Sergeants of Arms of both House and Senate have been fired, and the Chief of Capitol police is gone.

What is known to date about how this catastrophe (which all agree could have been much worse) occurred? Whom can the Senators, Representatives, staff members and others trust to protect them?

And who is ensuring that the January 20th inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be secure?

There isn’t much time. I understand that investigations require secrecy, but there are surely some things the public needs to know that can be transmitted.

Our Incoming Optimist

In the meantime, our President-elect is expressing just the right balance of fury and optimism. When asked if he thought the assault on the Capitol would make his job of working with the Republicans to heal the nation easier or harder, he responded it will make it “a lot easier” because he’s heard from many Republicans how appalled they were.

Commentator Jonathan Capehart said in an MSNBC interview that he thought Biden was right.

“There are moments in American history that move members of Congress closer together. Biden knows that.”

I sure hope Biden and Capehart are correct. And I hope every American—aside from Trump’s army of terrorists—will at least want to believe that this moment can be turned into a nation vastly different from the horrific one in evidence on January 6th.

Annie

25 thoughts on “AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW? (Part 2)

  1. I agree that it would be ideal if Trump could be removed –however, I also am concerned that such an action would simply add fuel to the fire! Unless Trump cannot speak in any way to the public, and unless all of his supporters are also muzzled, it would be very easy for a group of supporters to regroup and try again. There will be a lot of work to be done quickly to prevent recurrence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand the concern, but these groups are already planning their next attack. They have been energized by how easy it was to overtake the Capitol. We need more aggressive law enforcement, arrests of those who were pictured or IDed.
      And we must not shy away from holding this man —and other elected officials who abetted the rioters—accountable.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The government cannot refrain from taking necessary action due to fear of how the mobs might react. That would be surrendering to terrorism. If the extremists learn that mob violence gets them what they want and carries no consequences, then they’ll commit more mob violence. It would actually be rational behavior on their part to do so.

        In any case, we don’t actually have the option of calming them down by refraining from doing anything that might anger them (that is, surrender isn’t even possible). If the government doesn’t do anything to make them mad, OAN or Limbaugh or whatever will just make stuff up and the mobs will believe it. Those guys’ ratings and revenue depend on keeping their audience in a state of permanent outrage. Half the right wing already believes the left wing consists of Satanic pedophile lizard people from outer space or dupes of same, What happens or doesn’t happen in the real world isn’t the primary driver of their behavior.

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  2. The remedy for lies ought to be truth. Somehow it seems that isn’t working. What can be said to those who see elections that DJT lost as fraudulent without evidence? Must we compromise with liars?

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    1. No; we must not compromise with liars.

      Romney got an unusually strong response when he said in the Senate:”We must tell the voters the truth.” It’s crazy that he had to say it —and that the applause was deemed necessary—but that’s where we are.

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  3. Great piece, Annie. I’d love to see a way to bring him to justice for the crimes he’s committed and the people who have died from this latest assault, the racist response to peaceful protesters, and his holding back of information on the pandemic. I would surely, dearly love to see him precluded from ever holding office again. But I’m worried about how to work with the 70 million supporters who seem radicalized, who believe The Big Lie — and all the little ones, too. Speaking truth to lies is not enough — it isn’t working. I’m also sickened by the Republicans who have stood by silently. They, too, are part of this — the enablers. You as so right: battle for the soul, as Biden and Harris have said, and yet the battle is still with us even with this guy gone. Thanks, Annie. Always appreciate your analysis.
    PS I didn’t know the 6MNE. Disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I guess what I really want to understand is how you can change a person’s mind? What’s the process, deconstructed. How to work with those who believe this guy and all his awful hatred, misogynistic, racist, homophobic . . . you name it . . . crap? We’ve seen Trump use repetition as his key tool for conversion of people to his cause (himself). Is it just repetition? The same simple message over and over — and over — until people believe it? What are the tools we can use?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All excellent questions, Denise. But I don’t think all the trump voters believe he won—and most of them certainly aren’t planning insurrection. There are people who deprogram cultists—including neo-Nazis; whether such an effort has broad potential is a question.

      My slender reed of hope is that when Biden delivers some solid wins that help people directly, some of this anger will dissipate. I’m not talking about the hardcore white supremacists; they are a force that will be hard to reckon with for a long time.

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  5. I admire Nancy Pelosi for her strength and courage in seeking the second impeachment. The thing is if no action is taken and no accountability sought then it just emboldens them to try again and they are already planning. I wondered too about the capital police, being so unprepared and some of them almost complacent. There should be a full investigation of that. The danger of Trump will not go away, until he is put away, hopefully in jail, for a very long time and never allowed to seek office again. I’m also wondering how many of those 70 million who voted for Trump, would do so again, after this week’s shocking visual images.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We will learn more in time, Joni. It’s just worrisome to think how well these insurrectionists will be handled next time, which will be soon. I wish we didn’t know how trump had hollowed out agencies of the career people who are loyal to the Constitution.

      State capitals are also on the alert. Trump’s legacy. And all so predictable—except the ease with which the terrorists gained entry. That part is unfathomable.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Since the 2018 election, Pelosi has been the nearest thing we’ve had to a national leader (the jackass in the White House has never been more than a factional leader). She’s managed the Trump problem as well as anyone in her position conceivably could have done. Thanks goodness she thought of talking to Milley about the nuclear weapons. Trump is just going crazier and crazier, and there’s no knowing what he might try to do. It’s been my biggest concern about him since before the 2016 election.

    and, upon a separate vote, disqualify him from future officeholding

    That’s the main reason impeachment would be worth doing, assuming the Senate will vote to convict this time (I was against the first Trumpeachment because it was obvious the Senate wouldn’t convict, therefore it was a waste of time). The Senate is too sluggish to actually remove Trump before January 20 (McConnell suggested the Senate trial wouldn’t even begin until after that date), but eliminating the risk of Trump running for president again would be a real benefit.

    And who is ensuring that the January 20th inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be secure?

    I assume the Secret Service is involved in that. They’re a highly competent and professional organization.

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    1. Infidel: I read your 2016 piece. All along I’ve been thinking how disgraceful—indeed, traitorous—trump’s constant fealty to Putin has been. We’ve paid a high price for that as a nation. But nuclear war against Russia never entered my mind. Iran? Absolutely. Anyway, I’m grateful we were spared that earth-shattering trumpian lunacy.

      As for the security issue, I was relieved when there was a quiet announcement that the Secret Service agents protecting Biden had been changed to people who had been with him previously.

      But knowing how hollowed out and demoralized our FBI and Homeland Security agencies have become, if thousands of newly emboldened, armed terrorists show up again at Congress or the Inauguration, I—as a concerned citizen—want to hear some reassuring solid information about how they’ll be kept far away from the sites and what are the bona fides of those in charge. Maybe Chris Wray is up to the task, but you’d think since the crazies were so openly plotting their moves that FBI informants might have reported what to expect, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A point I think is important to remember is that while the right-wingers hold a share of political power, political power isn’t the only kind of power. Amazon is kicking Parler (the wingnut Twitter) off its hosting service and Apple is dropping its app, which apparently will pretty much shut Parler down. There are no right-wing high-tech companies on which any liberal sites are similarly dependent — in fact, as far as I know, there are no right-wing high-tech companies, period. That kind of people tend not to have the requisite skills and knowledge. Twitter has even kicked Trump off now, and there’s nothing he can do about it. All over the country, people who participated in the Capitol attack are being fired from their jobs when they’re identified. Notice that most employers these days have explicitly gay-friendly, anti-racist workplace policies. Only a few companies like Chick-fil-A have explicitly right-wing policies, and even they won’t endorse the more crazy Trumpist delusions or acts like the Capitol attack.

    (This isn’t because all the people who run big companies are liberals. It’s because they’ve all crunched the numbers and determined that failure to endorse the liberal world-view is bad for business, and that the racist/anti-gay element of the population isn’t a market worth catering to. Their goal is to make money, and that means adapting to the culture the way it actually is.)

    Our side dominates culture, which is “upstream” from politics — that is, culture ultimately shapes politics, but there’s very little politics can do to affect culture (see this post). This is why the wingnuts have almost always felt angry and frustrated and besieged even when their side is in power in the government. Political power can hurt people they hate, and Trump was very good at that, but it can’t stop the wingnuts from being culturally marginalized. We’re going to win out in the long run, and they know it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is an important point to remember, Infidel, and your 2018 post made it well. I have long felt that in time, with the population shifts and younger people becoming voters, the natural progression will be toward a society of greater tolerance and justice. That the National Assn of Mfrs and Wall St Jrl have both said trump should resign suggests this chaos may boost us in the right direction.
      But before that, the Biden Justice Dept’s Office of Civil Rights will be needed to intervene—a lot—when Republican-dominated states continue passing laws and regs to suppress the vote.

      And unfortunately, it looks like more potential chaos is inevitable from the last gasps of a desperate minority who have been united by trump and are determined to wreak havoc on a society in which they have no place.
      Hopefully, this fervor won’t last for long.

      We will, as a society, have to work out new ways to ensure that the heads of the giant tech firms don’t have such inordinate power.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re so very right about so many things here, Annie. I, too, worry about what damaging actions Trump might take in the days remaining in his term (10, as of today), but I think, and hope, that he’s exposed himself as the national threat that he is, now, enough that all or most of the responsible people in government won’t allow him to do anything important. I also think that the rioters and insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol last Wednesday showed who they really are (domestic, white nationalist terrorists); but I have some hope that there really are people who identify as Republicans, and were horrified by January 6th’s events, and really don’t and haven’t agreed with Trump about most things (maybe wishful thinking on my part). Most importantly, Trump must never be allowed to run again for any office.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. According to this survey done on Thursday, 45% of Republicans support the attack on the Capitol, while 43% oppose it. Of course one must allow for some shifting of attitudes as people learn more and as media they listen to put their own spin on it, but basically, they’re divided on the issue.

      I read right-wing sites and blogs regularly, and right now, based on the comment sections, they are bitterly divided, quarreling with each other and denouncing each other. It’s not that any of them have a remotely sane world-view. But we have an advantage because our world-view is based on reality, and reality is consistent and objectively knowable. Their world-view is crazy, and the problem with that is that there’s no logical or objective way of agreeing exactly how crazy to go or in what directions. They all agree that Trump actually won the election and Biden stole it through fraud, but some are still fervent believers in QAnon who expect Trump to somehow vanquish all his enemies and emerge triumphant before January 20, while others are starting to realize that nothing else QAnon predicted ever actually happened, and that the whole thing is a scam. Some are saying the Capitol attack mob were patriots “taking back” the seat of government, others say they were antifa disguised as Trumpists to make Trumpists look bad. Some want Trump to run again in 2024, some think voting is useless because of “vote fraud” and the only option now is violent revolution, some think all is lost and they’re doomed to live under liberal rule forever, some are saying wait for Jesus to come back and straighten everything out, etc.

      It’s going to be very hard to agree on a consistent pan-wingnut strategy to oppose us when they’re fighting over such a pandemonium of clashing delusions.

      Preventing Trump from ever running for office again was the purpose of a second Trumpeachment, but the more I think about it, I doubt that’s a good idea. There’s no way to get it done before January 20, and I don’t know if they can legally impose an impeachment-based penalty on Trump when he’s not in office any more anyway. And it would take away time and energy from the numerous other issues Congress will need to tackle. Another way to stop Trump from running for office again would be to prosecute him for his financial and other crimes — there’s enough there to lock him up for a lot more than four years. If the new justice department won’t do it because of some “healing the country” and “looking forward” horseshit, the state of New York can do it. Starting January 20, Congress needs to focus on the pandemic and the economy and voting rights and all the other urgent issues facing the country.

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      1. Thanks for doing rummaging that I could never bear to do. I did read somewhere about the delusionaries’ disagreements—and also about similar divisions among the Republicans’ per se. That’s all to the good.
        The ideal would be if Pence, knowing all his loyalty led to his being a potential victim of hanging, would trigger the 25th Amendment. But if he doesn’t, I think impeachment is inevitable. I like Clyburn’s suggestion that the case then not be referred to the Senate until after Biden’s first hundred days. I know scholars differ on the feasibility, but maybe by then the NY charges will be well under way, and they’ll decide a conviction by the Senate isn’t necessary. I don’t know enough about that, but the Republicans’ call for censure sounds too weak right now in light of the enormity of what trump did—a mere slap on the hand.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have been saying for years that this is not about Trump. Hitler did not act alone. No dictator ever does. The entire GOP has enabled this immoral and noxious man. So, listen to Jim Jordan who says on Fox News: Time to move on and work together.

    Let’s just forget about what the GOP has done. I don’t think so. The GOP had a chance to remove this boil from the ass of the nation a year ago. Only Mitt Romney stood up for the Constitution and vote to convict.. They are all at fault. Some more than others, but in the end it is the GOP which must be destroyed as a political force. If not, this insurrection will not end.

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    1. Joseph, you’ll get no argument from me in that regard. I have written the same thing many times—most recently in my previous post on the coup.

      But trump is the president who brought it all to a deadly head, and he’s the one who has power over the terrorists, so I think it’s entirely appropriate to focus on how we can get rid of him ASAP.

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  10. The nice thing about not getting to your posts for a week or two is gaining the perspective from a little time. Now that WaPo has confirmed that the FBI was aware that certain groups were planning to do damage at the Capitol long before Trump spoke, it is time to take a breath.

    I am not reading anyone who supports those who led the incursion, and I certainly don’t. If someone wants to use the term “insurrection”, it has to be the most pathetic insurrection in the history of insurrections.

    But it has proved to be very effective at cutting off “enemies of the State” from the ability to lead normal life. The trick is going to be in the definition of “domestic terrorist”. Does it include going to a rally? Voting for Trump? Donating a couple hundred bucks to his campaign? Reading The Federalist website?

    I have listened to people go on about how terrible Mccarthyism and the Hollywood blacklists were for decades now. We’re starting chapter 2 from where I sit. If Biden really wants to lower the temperature of the country he would say that the Justice Department is going to prosecute those who commit serious crimes and engage in dialogue with the peaceful people of the half of the country that didn’t vote for him and his party.

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    1. I think the answers to your questions are already apparent, JP. No one’s being arrested for being at the “rally,” and it’s ludicrous, I believe, to think that anyone would be punished for voting for Trump.
      But the fact that the attempted insurrection wasn’t worse—that people determined to hang the Vice President and kill the speaker didn’t do more damage—does not minimize what trump, Hawley, Cruz, and many in the House were trying to do: overturn an election by any means they could. And there are legitimate questions about why the sergeant-at-arms’ six calls to the Pentagon requesting the National Guard were ignored. We have a serious problem with far-right extremism in this country. Please don’t minimize what happened or try to compare it with the BLM movement, which the data show were overwhelmingly peaceful—even though the participants were treated much more harshly than these people who stormed our Capitol, beating one police officer to death and brutalizing others. Law and order indeed!

      I think Biden is lowering the temperature, and he’s trying to do the people’s business while staying far away from the Justice Department’s investigations and possible prosecutions. Whether he’ll get any help from the other side of the aisle is the big question in my mind. He’s inherited multiple crises from trump’s abysmal mis/unmanagement—more than any President in generations.

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    2. Was this an insurrection? It was certainly sedition. Let me explain. Joe Biden won the election in early November. Since then, Mr Trump has denied he lost. He went to court and lost 60 cases. He lost. There was no widespread voter fraud. On December 11 the electors from the 50 states and DC recorded their legal votes. He lost. Mr Trump still claimed he won the election. He violated his oath to “preserve, protect and defend ” the Constitution.
      On January 6 Congress was meeting to officially accept and count the electoral votes submitted legally by each state. On that same day Mr Trump had planned a rally in the morning.The same morning of the final count. At that rally he reiterated the lie that he had won the election and that the Democrats in Congress were “stealing” it. He said that the crowd was going to “lose their country” unless they acted. He told them he was personally going to lead a march on the Capitol. He called on Mike Pence to stop the vote tabulation. An illegal attempt to stop the legal votes from being counted. Another violation of his oath to “preserve,protect and defend” the Constitution.
      His supporters marched on the Capitol to stop the vote. (While Trump walked the other way to watch on TV in the safety of the White House),
      Trump’s mob broke into the Capitol. They called for the murder of Pence and Pelosi. They had weapons. They beat a police officer to death. TO DEATH. They almost caught Pence but luckily turned the wrong way. They vandalized the building. They stole material and computers. They broke windows.
      Meanwhile, for HOURS Trump, just a couple miles away and watching the Capitol being vandalized and Congress hiding in fear of their lives, did nothing. The same man who used tear gas to clear a PEACEFUL BM demonstration did nothing to stop this violent insurrection.
      So, those who minimize this sedition have blinders on. An overt attempt to murder the vice president and members of Congress is not something to be taken lightly. Yes, it failed. But not for lack of will . A matter of luck. And with the leadership decapitated Mr Trump would simply have declared martial law and stayed in power. You know it. I know it.We all know it.
      No amount of “whataboutism” changes the fact that this was an attack on the very idea of democracy. And Mr Trump organized and encouraged the mob. (To actually lead it would have taken some courage).
      Mr Trump should be convicted of sedition.
      If the GOP in the Senate lets this stand, then there is nothing that is an impeachable offense. It wasn’t long ago that the GOP demanded an end to the presidency of Bill Clinton because he lied about a blow job. Doesn’t that seem rather quaint by the actions of Trump? Clinton, a sex act by mutual consent, Trump, an attempt to overthrow the government.
      Those who minimize this sedition need to reread the paths to power of Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. If this stands, then NOTHING is impeachable and the president is no longer responsible to anyone or to the Constitution.

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