The end of one era, and the beginning of another

I wouldn’t allow myself to believe that we’d actually get here. I thought for sure that something terrible would happen. My OCD makes it really easy for me to imagine worst case scenarios, and I had dozens of them racing through my mind. Thankfully, none of them came to pass, and we had a peaceful transfer of power. I am relieved. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Donald Trump, or those in the Republican Party who aided him in his attempt to subvert the election, but, at least for now, it feels like we might have a fighting chance. And, with that, I’m going to sleep… Tomorrow the work of rebuilding begins.

We have to do everything in our power to ensure that the lessons of the last four years aren’t forgotten, and people need to be held to account for the roles that they played. Democracies are fragile things, and we came way too close to losing ours. It’s not enough that we banished Donald Trump, we need to ensure that, going forward, things are different. We need to teach media literacy in schools, as well as civics. We need to confront the underlying racism that fed the Tea Party’s birtherism, and laid the groundwork for Trumpism. We need to expose the cult of Qanon for what it is, and find help for those who succumbed to it. We need to prosecute those media entities that knowingly spread lies in order to advance their political agendas. We need to drive every Republican who voted against the certification of our free and fair election from civil society, and criminally prosecuting those who had a hand in planning the insurrection at the Capitol. We need to get money out of politics. We need a new Voting Rights Act that, among other things, addresses gerrymandering. And we all need to get more involved. If we don’t, the next time something like this happens, we may not be so lucky. We were fortunate to have been given this chance to set things right. We cannot squander it.

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Hell yes, Donald Trump should be impeached

The more that comes out about what happened on January 6 in Washington, DC, the more clear it is to me that Donald Trump needs to be immediately removed from office, and I’m thankful for those 200-some elected Democrats, like our own Debbie Dingell, Debbie Stabenow, and Gary Peters, who have already come forward in support of that position. If we’re ever to put this dark chapter of American history behind us, there needs to be a reckoning, and that cannot happen if Donald Trump is allowed to continue in office, and avoid responsibility for his actions. No, we need to send a strong message that ours is a country of laws, and that begins with holding Donald Trump accountable for his role in the January 6 attack at the Capitol. We have to ensure that he’s never able to run for public office again, or benefit in any way from his office, and the best way to do that is through impeachment. Not only would it keep him from running in 2024, but it would allow us to know, on the record, where each of our elected officials stand on the Donald Trump’s plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Speaking of getting people on the record as to where they stand, I just saw that Lindsay Graham has interceded on Trump’s behalf, asking Joe Biden not to push for a second impeachment. This is the same Lindsay Graham, by the way, who voted to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about having a consensual affair while president. Apparently, in his mind, oral sex is worse that inciting a riot that left five American citizens dead.

If you don’t think it was serious… just a few whack jobs adorned in animal horns and homemade fur capes posing for selfies, I’d encourage you to watch these two videos. The first shows the violent mob pushing their way into the Capitol from the perspective of the officers attempting to hold them back, and the second shows these same individuals chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they finally break through. And, for what it’s worth, it does look as though some in the group of rioters were looking to harm those elected officials who were certifying the election for Biden. As political consultant Arieh Kovler told GQ, “They had a map of the tunnels [in the basement of the Capitol], and they were talking about how they’re going to be able to stop Congress from leaving. They imagined that this was the day there were going to be mass executions of Congressmen.” While we don’t yet know the extent of what was planned, we do know that pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and several weapons were found in the possession of those in DC for the purposes of stopping the election certification. We also know that several people who broke into the Capitol, including a retired Air Force combat veteran, were carrying zip-tie handcuffs and tasers, seemingly indicating the possibility that they had intended to take hostages.

This was nothing less than a coordinated attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s win. And here’s the President of the United States of America, right before the attack, winding them up for battle, and encouraging them to go to the Capitol.

[According to Republican Senator Ben Sasse, senior White House officials told him that the President was “excited” and “delighted” as his supporters tried to storm the Capitol after he sent them off. And there’s video which seems to confirm the fact that Trump and members of his family were watching the attack, hopeful that the mob would stop the certification.]

I don’t have too much time right now, but I just wanted to encourage everyone who might be here on this site today to contact your elected officials, and let hem know that we demand people be held to account for what happened. Five American citizens, including a police officer, are dead today because the President of the United States, unable to accept defeat, called his supporters to Washing to stop the certification of a free and fair election. This is sedition, and a price must be paid. Trump must be removed from office. And all of those, like Ted Cruz, Mo Brooks, and Josh Hawley, who, in hopes of advancing their own political careers, played along, lying to American people about the election having been “stolen” from Donald Trump, and encouraged people to fight back, need to be driven from public office. As presidential historian Michael Beschloss reminded us today, the United States Constitution is clear on the matter. “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress” who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution, “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”, it says.

And we’re never going to be able to get beyond this as a society if we don’t face it right now, and deal with it decisively. If we don’t, you can be sure that more people will die… Speaking of which, I’d like to share one last piece of video. This comes from the family member of a Trump support who died during the attack on the Capitol.

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The attempted coup that we all knew was coming

This afternoon in Washington, D.C., as members of Congress counted the electoral college ballots inside the Capitol, Donald Trump’s supporters gathered outside for a “stop the steal” rally, where speaker after speaker told them that, at that very moment, our elected officials were conspiring on behalf of Joe Biden to rob their beloved president of a second term that he’d rightfully won. At one point, the President’s persona, attorney Rudy Giuliani took the stage to urge a “trial by combat” to overturn the 2020 election results. At another, the President himself addressed those gathered. “We will never give up,” he said. “We will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” And, with that, the mob turned upon the Capitol, scaling walls, smashing windows, and eventually forcing their way in, causing elected officials to flee, and temporarily stopping the federal certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Here’s some of the footage.

There are a lot of different ways we could go with this conversation. We could talk about the way these pro-Trump terrorists were treated compared to the peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square Park a few months ago, who were disbursed with tear gas and bullets when the President wanted to have his photo taken holding a bible in front of a church. Or how different the scene today might have played out, had those people forcing their way into the Capitol been black supporters of Barack Obama, for instance, as opposed to the white supporters of Donald Trump. Or we could talk about whether what we saw today was technically an insurrection, a coup attempt, or an act of sedition. Or we could talk, as many are today, about the fact that Colin Kaepernick was labeled anti-American by the President and others for having the audacity to “take knee” before a football game to protest police brutality, when these self-professed “patriots” were literally smashing windows to get at our elected officials, and occupying the floor of the U.S. Senate. Here, by the way, are just a few of the photos documenting what had happened.

My inclination is to focus on those in Congress who helped lay the groundwork for what we saw play out today — those who could have taken action earlier, but instead chose to play along — those who now seem genuinely horrified by what’s come to pass, but still lack the self-awareness to see that they actually helped create this situation. Specifically, I’m thinking of Lindsey Graham, Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell and Will Hurd, but there are others. All of them knew how how this would end, and yet they went along. (Graham, according to Georgia election officials, even interceded on Trump’s behalf to push for legal ballots to be thrown out.) They could have spoken up and done the courageous thing when it would have made a difference. They could have joined the likes of Justin Amash and Mitt Romney, but they put their own careers ahead of the county, and chose to do nothing. And, now, they want us to believe that they’re absolutely horrified at what’s taking place, like we never could have conceived such an outcome.

But at least they’re accepting the reality of the situation, unlike Matt Gaetz, who just had the audacity to say on the floor of the House that, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.” There’s a special place in hell for him and the six Senators (“the seditious six”) today who voted against the certification of the electoral college vote (Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Kennedy, Marshall, Tuberville).

As I mentioned Romney and Amash earlier, here are quotes today from both. While I don’t agree with either on much, I respect them both immensely for standing up to Trump, knowing that it would put them at odds with their party.

As for Trump, he was given an opportunity to talk to the terrorists who had stormed the Capitol, and urge them to leave. And, while he did suggest that they leave, he also talked about how the election had been stolen from him, and how much he loved those who have taken over the Capitol. “We love you. You’re very special,” he said. He also posted the following online. Eventually, however, all of the major social media platforms pulled his posts.

And, now, as a result of all of this, one woman is dead. A Qanon believer by the name of Ashli Babbit was shot and killed today during the siege at the Capitol. According to the Daily Beast, she was in D.C. because she wanted to be there for “The Storm”, the day when it was predicted that Trump would arrest and execute his demonic, child-eating political rivals. Here’s a clip.

On Jan. 5, a day before her death, Babbitt tweeted references to another QAnon slogan, “dark to light,” and said the United States would soon see “The Storm”—a moment much awaited by QAnon followers, in which Trump would execute his opponents in the Democratic Party.

Babbit, like other QAnon followers gathered outside Congress on Wednesday, appeared to believe that the apocalyptic moment was at hand.

“They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light!” Babbit wrote…

I could go on. I need to sleep, though. It’s all too surreal. I never would have thought that I’d see the day that the Capitol would be overrun, and I’d be reading tweets from elected officials hiding in their offices. It’s all so fucking insane. And I can’t imagine what still lies ahead of us, as Donald Trump still has two more weeks in office. There’s word tonight that high level Republicans are finally organizing to see him removed from office, whether by invoking the 25th amendment, or by way of impeachment. One hopes that happens, and happens quickly, before things escalate even further. Word is that he’s beginning to lose his grip. Three White House staffers have already walked out today, and one gets the sense that a long-awaited shift against Trump is finally starting to take hold.

update: Trump, while still not conceding, finally said that there would be a peaceful transition of power. How insane is it that it took this long?

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We all owe Stacey Abrams a huge debt of gratitude for ridding us of Mitch McConnell

I know it’s probably a bit premature, but, if The Economist’s G. Elliott Morris is correct (see below), both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have won their Senate run-off races in Georgia today, meaning that control of the chamber will soon change hands, and that Mitch McConnell’s reign of terror will finally be coming to long-awaited end. [With both Democrats winning in Georgia, the Senate would be split evenly between the two parties, with each holding 50 seats. According to the Constitution, this means that the Vice President would be called upon to cast the deciding votes in instances of deadlock. And, as Kamala Harris will be our new Vice President come January 20, that means the Democrats will have control over the chamber, making McConnell the Senate Minority Leader.]

While both Warnock and Ossoff ran great races, and we Democrats benefited mightily from the fact that the Republicans running were so incredibly terrible, I stand with those who give a majority of the credit to Stacey Abrams, who, after having the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia in large part due to Republican voter suppression efforts, made it her mission to see that other Democrats running in the state had a fighting chance going forward. Through her organization Fair Fight, she fought voter suppression policies in Georgia, registered roughly 1 million new voters, and laid the groundwork making it possible for the state to flip from red to blue. There is no way, without her, that Biden, Warnock or Ossoff would have won in the state, and we owe her an enormous debt of gratitude. Assuming things play out like we expect them to, and Mitch McConnell is driven from power, Abrams will have the distinction of being the person most responsible, and we cannot forget that. When we see comprehensive health care reform, a new voting rights act, positive movement on global warming, or new legislation to address gun violence, it will be because of what she had done in Georgia. I know the temptation today will be to focus on how terrible Mitch McConnell is, and how happy we are to be rid of his smirking obstructionism, but it’s worth pointing out, I think, that there is an equal and opposite force in the universe, and that force is Stacey Abrams. Here’s hoping she’s given the national platform she deserves.

And, yes, I know there were other forces at play in Georgia. As Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling said today, much of this falls “squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since November 3.” Not only are his incessant lies about the 2020 election turning off mainstream Republican voters, who know that he lost fair and square, but his baseless allegations about elections being rigged against him and his cronies has kept many of his more delusional supporters from turning out. But I don’t feel like giving Donald Trump credit for anything right now, even destroying the rotten shell of the political party he’d taken over in 2016. I’d much rather see hard-working, decent people like Abrams get the credit.

One last thing. The big winner today is Kamala Harris, who is likely going to be the most powerful and consequential Vice President in our lifetimes (unless you count Cheney, I guess) due to the fact that she’ll be deciding almost every vote in the Senate.

Oh, and Biden has no excuses now. He must be bold, and take decisive action these next two years to not only right the ship, but set a clear, just, and sustainable path for the future. Not one minute should be spent coddling the would-be-authoritarians who lined up to defend and enable Donald Trump. Furthermore, no one should be spared as we move forward, investigating the truth of what happened during the Trump administration. There’s far too much at stake to just put it all behind us and move on. If we don’t deal with it now, and do so decisively, you can be sure that we’ll pay the price for generations to come. Our democratic institutions need to be defended, and criminals must be prosecuted. And we now have the levers of power at our disposal to see that happen.

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In hopes of currying favor with the President and his followers, Republican members of the U.S. Senate seek to throw out the results of a free and fair election. This is sedition.

Sorry I’ve been away for a while. It’s not that I haven’t missed you all. I have. And I’ve wanted to write. I’ve just been forcing myself not to. I knew, if I started spending time here again, I’d eventually begin writing about Trump, and I didn’t want to do that. After Biden’s victory, I didn’t see any justification for it. Before then, I could argue that my writing about Trump here was beneficial. “By obsessively documenting every assault of the Trump administration,” I told myself, “I’m helping to motivate people to volunteer for Democratic candidates, to get out and vote, and to contribute financially.” Now that Biden has won, though, I don’t really see what’s to be gained by talking about our failed despot. It’s much better, I’ve thought, to just stay quiet, and allow him to fade away. Today, though, I felt as though I had to say something.

First, just to recap… All of the states have now certified their election results. In the end, Joe Biden secured 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232, making him the next President of the United States. Donald Trump, of course, has tried to make the case that there was rampant voter fraud, and that he had, in fact, won the election. His attorneys brought 60 cases across the United States alleging fraud, of which 59 have already been thrown out, in many cases by judges that he himself had placed on the bench. This, of course, is not surprising, given that Trump and his team offered no actual proof of widespread voter fraud. For all their talk of fraud, they’ve still demonstrated none. And in each of the states where they’ve claimed fraud to have taken place have, the election results have now been certified. And this is true even in states like Georgia, where Republicans control the legislature. Donald Trump, as we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt, lost the electoral vote overwhelmingly, and the popular vote by approximately 7 million votes. This is just a fact.

In spite of this, several elected Republican Senators have made it known that, on January 6, they intend to vote against certifying the 2020 election results at the federal level, joining around 140 Republican members of the House of Representatives in their attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election. “We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” the eleven Republican Senators and Senators-Elect wrote in a statement yesterday. Like everything else that Trump and his allies have attempted, this will not work. [They don’t have the votes to actually stop the process from moving forward.] But that’s not the point. [Ironically, it should be pointed out that many of these Senators won in elections they’re claiming to have been fraudulent.]

We know why these people are doing this. It’s not that they believe an election was stolen, but that they want to inherit the mantle of Donald Trump, and they don’t care about the ramifications. They don’t care about the long term consequences of telling the American people that an election has been stolen when it hasn’t. As Mitt Romney just said, “The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic… I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?” [Former House Speaker Paul Ryan joined Romney in speaking out today, saying, “Under our system, voters determine the president… Joe Biden’s victory is entirely legitimate.”]

Republican political strategist Steve Schmidt took things a little further in his Twitter feed today, where he said the following about the Republicans, like Ted Cruz, who have made it known they they intend to help Donald Trump perpetuate the lie that the election was stolen from him. [I guess the Harvard-educated Cruz, who once swore that he would never be Trump’s “servile puppy dog,” has had a change of heart.]

2021 will be a hard year in the life of the American nation. There is a great struggle that lies before us and our disbelief at its arrival must not blind us to the lethal danger it poses to the American experiment. The poisonous bounty of Trump’s catastrophic Presidency is ready for harvest and the whole world will get to watch his seditious antics play out during a joint session of Congress on January 6th. It will play out as a farce and it will fail. Nearly 100 years on America will have it’s version of the Beer Hall Putsch. The danger lies in the act, not the outcome. We are in a dangerous moment and I’d like to try my best to explain how I see it.

Before I start, there is an important matter of fact which unfortunately needs restating. Joe Biden won the Presidential election decisively. The election was free, fair and legitimate. There is no evidence of any wide spread fraud. Allegations of fraud are premeditated lies being made by a rancid assortment of Trump’s stooges and propagandists. With the exception of a few of the more addled House GOP members like Louis Gohmert, every single House Member and every US Senator that participates in denying this reality and thus the legitimacy of our election does so as a cynical act which they know for certain has no legitimate basis. Such actions are a grievous sin against America democracy and a brutal betrayal of their oaths of office and duty. They will be desecrating the blood sacrifices of 13 generations of American Patriots of all creeds and origins who died so that our children could be free. They are fighting to maintain the power of a defeated President against the sovereign will of the American people as lawfully exercised under the Constitution of the United States. They are fighting to establish a tyranny. They are deliberately poisoning Faith and Belief in American democracy.

Democratic Republic’s cannot survive such a collapse. The system is rooted in the willingness of one side to cede power to another at the will of the people. There are no other systems of government except for this type that are free. The legitimacy of that system is being strangled by Trumps lies and the lies of his movement. That movement is an autocratic one with fascistic markers. It is hostile to the American Constitution, the rule of law and the highest ideas and ideals of American liberty.

January 6, will be a historic day in America. The battle lines will be drawn. The Autocrats will step forward into the light. They will include a majority of the House GOP Conference. After the 6th, Kevin McCarthy will be the leader of House Autocrats, and Liz Cheney will be the Leader of House Conservatives. They will include a substantial number of GOP Senators and almost all of the known GOP Presidential aspirants.

The Rubicon will be crossed on the 6th. The ruthless and amoral cynicism of Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, James Lankford and Josh Hawley will be on appalling display. It must be opposed fiercely. It must be recognized for what it is. Another storm is gathering in the constant struggle between liberty and her enemies. Trump has unleashed the furies and has found his following. It will be a long fight. At the hour of his defeat and defenestration Trump has done his greatest damage. This is a movement that is fueled by lies, conspiracies, corruption, greed, extremism, racism, grievance, resentment, cynicism and a profound absence of love for America. It is right to feel anger and contempt towards its leaders and enablers. There is only one proposition that America’s pro-democracy coalition can offer to these people. “We win – you lose.” It’s that simple. Sedition is the precise word and the right word to describe what we have been witnessing. Never before have so many American leaders betrayed their country. We will watch their eternal disgrace on live TV. The evidence of their ignominy will exist forever as will the memory of their monumental betrayal. Shame on them all.

Here are the names of those Republican Senators and Senators-Elect who have signed-on to join Ted Cruz in his attempt to stop the results of our last election from being accepted. They are Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mike Braun of Indiana, and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Remember their names. By refusing to accept the results of our free and fair election, they are guilty of sedition, at the very least, and they should held accountable.

If any of you have any question at all as to what the above mentioned Senators and Senators-Elect have agreed to support when signing on to this document, I’d encourage you to listen to the following audio of President Donald Trump, recorded recently, threatening Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to, in the words of Senator Dick Durbin, “deliberately change and misrepresent the legally confirmed vote totals” in that state.

“It’s gonna be costly to you,” Trump says to Raffensperger on the call, when the Secretary of State refuses to “find 11,780 votes” for him. [Trump had tried to call Raffensperger 18 times before the Secretary of State took the call. He clearly knew the President was going to try to shake him down, the same way he did the President of Ukraine. Thankfully he had the presence of mind to record the entire call. As one of Raffensperger associates told Politico today, “It’s nice to have something like this, hard evidence, to dispute whatever he’s claiming about the secretary. Lindsey Graham asked us to throw out legally cast ballots. So yeah, after that call, we decided maybe we should do this.”] This is the kind of criminal activity one sees from a mob boss. The members of the U.S. Senate named above know it. And yet they continue to go along. It is pathetic, grotesque and dangerous. And all of their political careers should end immediately.

update: The snow person featured above was created by Arlo and I this morning in Riverside Park. I was going to use a photo of Donald Trump, but this made me happier.

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