A Letter, A Letter! I Wrote A Letter!

Mr. Kevin McCarthy

2468 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Mr. McCarthy,

I am writing to you today to make a few suggestions, since you and your party seem a bit lost at the moment.  You have appointed people to committees they know nothing about and have set up investigations into … nothing that that should be considered to be any business of the U.S. House of Representatives.  So, I have a few suggestions for things you guys can investigate or do, so at the end of your short two-year tenure, at least you’ll have something to show for your time in office.

  • In 2021, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the former guy, received a check from Saudi Arabia in the amount of $2 billion. We the People would like to know what under-the-table deal led to this mega payment.
  • We the People would also like to see you continue the excellent work that was done by the House January 6th They did a great job, but their work was cut short when a new House of Representatives took over, and there is still much to be learned about who, precisely, played a role in the multiple efforts to rob We the People of our voices, our votes.
  • While I realize you have a very slim majority and need every vote you can score, I think you would earn a bit of respect if you did the right thing and removed George Santos from your number. Yes, he will likely be replaced by a Democrat, but you will know that you did the right thing.  You will have a clear conscience, at least on this one issue.  I fully believe that Mr. Santos has a serious mental health problem, and while I empathise with that, the United States Congress is no place for a pathological liar.
  • We the People would like to see you and your ‘team’ extend an olive branch across the aisle. In theory, at least, you all work for the same employer … WE THE PEOPLE!  All this idle chatter about shutting down the Internal Revenue Service and replacing the income tax with a “consumption tax” of 30% on every single thing we purchase is bullshit, and you know that all too well.  You’re supposed to be looking out for our interests, not stabbing us in the back!
  • The debt ceiling is not a weapon for you to use to get publicity … it is important that we stay on top of our financial obligations, both foreign and domestic.  Fully half of your party do not even understand the difference between the debt ceiling, the budget, the national debt, and the deficit.  I sometime wonder if you understand the difference?  At any rate, if you cannot work together with your Democratic partners to avoid a catastrophe, then … you really aren’t any sort of a leader at all, are you?
  • I really think you need to re-think some of the committee appointments you have made. For example … Marge Greene on the Homeland Security Committee???  What were you thinking?  She is a supporter of domestic terrorism!!!  15 of the 21 Republicans you placed on the Oversight Committee voted to overturn the election results and 14 of 18 Republicans you placed on the Judiciary Committee, including Jim Jordan himself, also voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  These people voted to put duct tape across the mouths of more than 81 million people, including myself!  They voted, basically, to replace democracy with autocracy, to take away our Constitutional right to have a voice in our government!  And YOU put them on some of the most important committees in the House?
  • And last, but not least, forget about Hunter Biden’s laptop … A) It isn’t a matter for Congress. Hunter Biden is a private citizen.  B) Nobody cares.  And speaking of such things … I understand you’re planning to ‘investigate’ the leak in the Supreme Court of the Dobbs decision.  Don’t bother.  A) It was likely Justice Samuel Alito, B) Nobody cares, and C) We the People had every right to know how the Court would be voting on Dobbs, for it was a decision that took away the rights of fully 50% of the population of this nation, including mine!

Overall, Mr. McCarthy, I really think you need to go off on your own this weekend, to a cabin somewhere in the woods, no television, no cell phone, no laptop, and take a long hard look inside yourself, have a nice long chat with your conscience, if you still have one.  You are not working in the best interests of this nation and its people, and I honestly believe you are smart enough to know that.  I hope you can find your conscience and listen to the voices telling you, reminding you, that you work for the people of this nation, that you owe US, not the Republican Party, not the extremists, not the racists, but the 330 million people who live in this country.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

The Speaker Speaks

Last evening, the January 6th Committee issued to the public its final report after nearly two years of delving into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the insurrection and attempted coup on January 6th, 2021.  The Executive Summary, which I downloaded on Tuesday, is over 150 pages and I’m still working my way through that, and the full report is said to be 1,000 pages, give or take.  Much of what’s in the report we have seen in the hearings, but no doubt there is additional detail and analysis.  From time to time, I may write about one thing or another that stands out, but I have no intention of boring you to tears by sharing the entire report or opining on every detail.  You can download the report yourself if you are interested … and I really hope you are, at least those of you who live in the U.S.  If we simply shrug our shoulders and don’t bother to understand what happened and what very nearly happened, then we are part of the problem and we will have a portion of the blame if the same or worse happens again at some point in the future.

For today, though, I did want to share Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s introduction at the beginning of the report, for her words weigh heavily.  I have highlighted one portion that I think speaks volumes.  We barely dodged the bullet two years ago … we may not be so lucky next time.


“THE LAST BEST HOPE OF EARTH”

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

All Members of the United States Congress take this sacred oath. On January 6, 2021, Democrats and Republicans agreed that we would fulfill this oath—and that we had an obligation to signal to the world that American Democracy would prevail.

In furtherance of fulfilling this duty, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol was charged with investigating the facts, circumstances and causes that led to this domestic terror attack on the Capitol, the Congress and the Constitution.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Chairman Bennie Thompson, Vice Chair Liz Cheney, the patriotic Members of Congress and dedicated staff—who devoted themselves to this investigation, to uncovering the truth and to writing a report that is a “Roadmap for Justice.”

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack has succeeded in bringing clarity and demonstrating with painstaking detail the fragility of our Democracy. Above all, the work of the Select Committee underscores that our democratic institutions are only as strong as the commitment of those who are entrusted with their care. [emphasis added]

As the Select Committee concludes its work, their words must be a clarion call to all Americans: to vigilantly guard our Democracy and to give our vote only to those dutiful in their defense of our Constitution.

Let us always honor our oath to, as Abraham Lincoln said, “nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.” So help us God.

NANCY PELOSI, Speaker of the House

Members Of Congress Walk Free

While I was pleased to see the January 6th committee issue recommendations on four counts of criminality for Donald Trump (see Keith’s post for an excellent summation), I must admit to being a bit disappointed on one front.  The committee did make recommendations that four members of Congress should be investigated by the House Ethics Committee, not for their roles in the January 6th attempted coup, but for refusing to testify before the committee.  Numerous members of Congress did, in fact, participate in the attempts to overturn the election and silence the voices of the majority, and personally I consider it a slap in the face to We the People that they are to be allowed to keep their seats in Congress with no accountability for their actions.  Philip Bump, writing for The Washington Post, summed it up well …


Trump’s Jan. 6 enablers in Congress can now exhale

Philip Bump

20 December 2022

The House select committee investigating the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, concluded its work on Monday, releasing part of its report on its findings and a clutch of referrals to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation. It also released a less explosive set of recommendations: that four members of Congress should be investigated by the House Ethics Committee for failing to comply with the committee’s inquiry.

With that, the door apparently closed on one of the most titillating aspects of the riot, that members of Congress might have been somehow directly involved in the day’s violence. But the door also seems to have closed on another aspect of the post-election period: accountability for members of Congress who eagerly worked to assist Donald Trump’s effort to retain power despite his election loss.

That group had already sidestepped one mechanism for accountability. As The Washington Post reported last week, nearly every member of the House who voted in opposition to recognizing electors from Arizona or Pennsylvania in the hours after the riot — trying to effect through their votes what the mob had been trying to achieve through force — were reelected in last month’s midterm elections. In fact, there’s no obvious evidence that they suffered any political effect for their participation in the effort to block those electors.

But not all of those members of Congress were equivalently invested in preserving Trump’s power. A smaller group, generally closer to the caucus’s rightmost fringe, worked directly with outside groups on promoting the idea that the 2020 election had been stolen and worked with the White House on boosting Trump’s bid to derail his election loss.

Reporting from Talking Points Memo indicates that more than 30 Republican members of Congress communicated with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to offer moral or structural support for Trump’s effort. They passed along unfounded claims of fraud, sent messages of encouragement to the president or, at times, called for a more forceful response to block Joe Biden’s inauguration. In many cases, those legislators were also amplifying false claims about the election to their supporters.

On Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the election, the Twitter account of Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was flagged 19 times for sharing false or baseless claims about the election results. She continued to make similar claims in the months that followed; she continues to do so to this day. Greene also participated in a briefing at the White House about the election results (despite not yet serving in Congress) on Dec. 21, 2020, along with a number of other House Republicans including Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Brian Babin (Tex.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), Andy Harris (Md.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).

Organizers had planned a series of events centered on Jan. 6 in the weeks before the Capitol riot. One, scheduled for Capitol Hill just as the counting of electoral votes began on that day, was put together by fringe activists working under the “Stop the Steal” banner. The lead organizer, Ali Alexander, identified Greene as a friend who was engaged in trying to prevent Biden’s inauguration.

He also claimed that Biggs, Brooks and Gosar had been involved in planning his event. Alexander is not a trustworthy source of information, and the Capitol Hill rally never materialized as planned. (Greene denied involvement in planning an event, as did Biggs and Brooks. Gosar has not addressed the claim.) A potential lineup of speakers submitted with the group’s permit application, though, lists Greene, Gosar, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and others as speakers. Another organizer of the combined event program for the day (including Trump’s speech) offered a similar list of elected officials as having participated in the discussions: Biggs, Boebert, Brooks, Gosar and Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).

(In the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot, there was an enormous amount of attention paid to tours of the Capitol complex given by Republican legislators in the days before the riot. There’s no evidence that this was nefarious; it appears to have been primarily a function of unlucky timing.)

These details, though, distract from the broader effort to bolster Trump’s rhetoric. The post-election period offered Republican leaders a choice: build political capital with right-wing voters by siding with Trump’s obviously false and baseless claims of fraud or challenge the sitting president’s rhetoric — including by refusing to amplify it. The elected officials listed above had no qualms about sharing misinformation about the election. In fact, their messages to Meadows often indicate that they may actually have believed the quickly debunked claims they were spreading. Even on Jan. 6 itself, Greene and at least one other elected Republican tried to blame the riot on the political left.

While we talk about the House select committee as being focused on the Capitol riot, the committee’s work covered much of the post-election effort by Trump to retain power. The preliminary report released on Monday explores not only the immediate triggers for the riot but also other parallel efforts by Trump and his allies to keep him in office.

Which makes the committee’s limited condemnations of other elected officials more notable. Despite those legislators having been actively involved in the broader effort and serving in positions that require an oath of fealty to the Constitution, the committee offered only formal objections over the failure of four legislators — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Biggs, Jordan and Perry — to comply with the committee’s requests for information. Instead of doing so, several of them were explicit in casting the committee as illegitimate or partisan, intentionally weakening the potency of the committee’s work.

It’s unlikely that the Ethics Committee will offer much of a slap on the wrist, if any, particularly since that bipartisan committee will soon be chaired by a Republican. Those members of the House who amplified Trump’s false claims, worked to assist with his efforts to retain power, voted to block electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania and then blocked or minimized the investigation undertaken by their colleagues will simply continue to serve in Congress.

On Jan. 3, they will once again take a sworn oath to defend the Constitution, as they did on the same day two years prior.

Making History … As We Speak

Today is the final televised hearing of the January 6th committee.  What happens next?  Time will tell.  I like to think the Department of Justice will act on the recommendations of the committee, as well as their own investigations, and that those who participated in attempting to overthrow our voices, our government, will pay a steep price.  I’m not holding my breath, however.  Robert Hubbell’s newsletter today echoes my own thoughts, only he says it much better than I could …


The Judgement of History

Robert B. Hubbell

19 December 2022

On Monday, December 19, 2022, Americans will witness history in the making. A congressional committee will recommend that the DOJ pursue criminal proceedings against a former president for engaging in insurrection to stop the peaceful transfer of power. The recommendation will be based on an exhaustive, transparent, bipartisan investigation that unfolded in public. Republicans boycotted the committee after GOP leadership unsuccessfully attempted to appoint participants in the insurrection to the body investigating their crimes.

The criminal referrals should not be cause for celebration or feelings of vindication. Rather, they should be a cause for hope and increased resolve that our experiment in democracy will endure despite the actions of faithless servants and aspiring tyrants. The United States of America is bigger than Trump and his skulk of cowards. It will outlast them, hold them to account, and subject them to the judgment of history.

The criminal referrals and findings of the January 6th Committee are critical steps in setting the record straight for future generations. The names of the insurrectionists will be memorized by schoolchildren learning about dark passages in our nation’s history: Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, Jefferson Davis, Donald Trump, Jim Jordan, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, . . . .

Sadly, the insurrection continues to this day as the GOP seeks to shield members of its party who remain in Congress after they betrayed the Constitution. No Republican member of Congress agreed to appear before the Committee to provide crucial evidence in one of the most important investigations in our history. The recalcitrant members of Congress continue to violate their oaths every minute they obfuscate, impede, and distort the work of the Committee. They deserve to be expelled from Congress. Indeed, the Committee may recommend discipline or criminal referrals for members who failed to comply with lawful subpoenas issued by the Committee, The Week, Schiff says Jan. 6 committee deciding ‘appropriate remedy’ for uncooperative GOP lawmakers.

 In a depraved act of supreme disrespect and partisanship, a “shadow” committee of Republicans will issue a “counter-report” to the official report of the January 6th Committee. That report will seek to lay blame for security lapses at the Capitol for the insurrection. See Axios, Scoop: GOP shadow committee re-emerges for Jan. 6 report. The response by law enforcement and intelligence agencies is a legitimate area of investigation—and will be covered in the January 6th Committee’s report. But the point of the “shadow committee’s” separate report is to confuse and dilute media coverage of the findings in the J6 Report. Sadly, many members of the media will give “equal time” to a “PR stunt” by insurrectionists and the serious and sober effort by the J6 Committee to understand the root cause of the insurrection.

Trump is acting like a wounded and cornered animal. He is lashing out on his vanity media platform, resorting to the language of incitement that ignited the insurrection. See HuffPo, Donald Trump Evokes Jan. 6 Insurrection, Tells Backers It’s Time To ‘Deal With’ FBI, DOJ “Thugs”. It is doubtful that any other president in American history will ever be credibly accused of insurrection by a congressional committee. Trump is entering a league of one.

The political backlash against the Committee and its members will be savage. Kevin McCarthy has vowed to remove Adam Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee in retribution. Republican leaders of all stripes will lie, distort, and deflect. The tired refrain of “What about Hillary’s emails?” pales in comparison to charges of insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, and conspiracy to defraud the United States (i.e., the fake electors scheme).

For those who care about defending democracy, the vote of the Committee on December 19, 2022, will be momentous. To the extent you can, ignore the noise and focus on the rare achievement that is the sign of a functioning democracy—an effort to hold a former leader to account for his crimes in office. Whatever happens, the judgment of the January 6th Committee will be inscribed in stone as the official history of the unsuccessful insurrection that culminated in the events of January 6th, 2021.

Everything Is Not Alright

I was determined to either find another topic than Tuesday’s elections here in the U.S., else not write a post for this morning.  I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the elections, especially those of you who live outside the U.S. as nearly half of my readers do, and frankly I’m tired of talking/writing about them.  So, I was going to write about … oh, maybe the COP27 taking place this week, or the ignominious Kanye West, or … something!  But then … as I was attempting to reduce the clutter in my email inbox, I came across a piece by Thomas Friedman that … well, it just begs to be shared.  And so, once again, I’d like to talk about this election … and things to come.  Some of what Mr. Friedman says is frightening, much of it is not what we hoped to hear, but I believe he is right and that his words carry a great deal of wisdom for what happens in the future, not only here in the U.S., but elsewhere.

Thomas Friedman knows of what he speaks.  A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of seven books ranging from topics such as foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues, he is currently a weekly columnist for the New York Times.


America Dodged an Arrow

By Thomas Friedman

09 November 2022

You can hold off moving to Canada. You can forgo the call to the New Zealand Embassy on how to become a citizen there. Tuesday’s election really was the most important test since the Civil War of whether the engine of our constitutional system — our ability to peacefully and legitimately transfer power — remains intact. And it looks to have come through — a little dinged up, but OK.

I am still not even close to ready to sound the all-clear, to declare that running on a platform of election denialism will never tempt another American politician. But given the unprecedented degree to which election denialism was elevated in this midterm and the way several big-name Trump-imitating knuckleheads who made denialism central to their campaigns got their clocks cleaned —- we may have just dodged one of the biggest arrows ever aimed at the heart of our democracy.

To be sure, another arrow could target us at any moment, but the whole U.S. electoral system — in red states and blue — seemed to perform admirably, almost shrugging off the last two years of controversy, diminishing it to what it always was: the shameful fabrication of one man and his most shameless sycophants and imitators. Given the threat posed by Trump denialists to the acceptance and legitimacy of our elections, that is a big deal (and hopefully it will last through the Arizona count).

It could not come at a better time as the leaders of both Russia and China have manipulated their systems to entrench themselves in power beyond their previously established terms of office.

One of their arguments to their own people in doing so was to point to things like the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in America and the seeming chaos of our elections to tell their citizens: “That’s what democracy looks like. Is that what you want here?”

Indeed, in May, during his commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduating class, President Biden recalled when President Xi Jinping of China congratulated him in 2020 on his election: “He said democracies cannot be sustained in the 21st century; autocracies will run the world. Why? Things are changing so rapidly. Democracies require consensus, and it takes time, and you don’t have the time.”

For that reason, both Xi and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin — and the supreme leader in Iran now facing an uprising led by Iranian women — lost on Tuesday night, too. Because the more wild and unstable our politics, the less able we become to peacefully transfer power, the easier it is for them to justify never doing so.

But while election denialism took a thumping this week as a winning message, none of the things that are still eating away at the foundations of American democracy — and preventing us from actually getting big hard things done — have gone away.

I am talking about the way in which our primary system, gerrymandering and social networks have coalesced to steadily poison our national dialogue, steadily polarize our society into political tribes and steadily erode the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust.

Without being able to agree on what is true, we don’t know which way to go. And without being able to trust one another, we can’t head there together. And everything big and hard needs to be done together.

So, our enemies would be wise not to leave us for dead, but we would be even wiser not to conclude that, because we avoided the worst, we’ve locked in the best going forward.

Everything is not all right.

We are as divided coming out of this election as we were going into it. But to the extent that the red wave did not manifest itself — particularly in swing states like Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman won a Senate seat over the Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz, and in swing districts like one in central Virginia where Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger was re-elected by defeating another Trump-backed candidate — it was because enough independents and moderate Republicans and Democrats showed up to put Fetterman and Spanberger over the top.

“There is still a viable group of centrist voters out there, who, when given a valid choice — not everywhere, and not always, but in some key districts — asserted themselves,” Don Baer, who was a communications director in the Clinton White House, told me. “I think there are still a lot of voters saying: ‘We want a viable center, where we can figure out how to make things happen that can really help people, even if it isn’t perfect or all at once. We don’t want every election to be existential.’”

The challenge, added Baer, “is, how do you take that sentiment to scale and make it work in Washington on a regular basis?”

I don’t know, but, if this election is a sign that we are at least edging back from the brink, it’s because enough Americans still fall into this independent or centrist camp and do not want to keep dwelling on the grievances, lies and fantasies of Donald Trump, which they can see are making the G.O.P. crazy and roiling the whole country. They also don’t want to be shackled by the woke enforcers of the far left, and they are terrified by the spread of the kind of sick political violence that was just visited on Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

We owe a huge debt for keeping this center alive to Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Representative Elaine Luria. The three of them helped to spearhead the Jan. 6 investigation in Congress and ended up being forced out of office as a result. But the message that committee sent to enough voters — that we must never, ever, ever let something like this happen again — surely also contributed to the absence of a pro-Trump wave in this midterm election.

In sum, we did not get a clean bill of health. We got a diagnosis that our political white blood cells did OK in beating back the metastasizing infection that threatened to kill our whole electoral system. But that infection is still here, which is why the doctor advised, “Behave in healthy ways, build back your strength and return in 24 months for another scan.”

Your Daily Dose of Snarklets

I decided that these mini-snippets of snark should be called ‘snarklets’, and today I have limited time, but a number of these little snarklets bouncing about in my head.


A nice little vacation?

Well, as you all know, Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned under duress yesterday morning after taking only 45 days to practically destroy the economy of the UK.  So now comes the big question:  who will replace Ms. Truss?  From what I’m reading, there are three main possibilities and guess who heads the list?  Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has only been out of office for the same 45 days that Ms. Truss occupied it.  So … what this looks like to me is Boris, not-so-affectionately known as BoJo, wanted a little vacation, so the Tories hired Ms. Truss to fill in for him so he could have a month-and-a-half to spend cruising about the Caribbean, catching some rays, eating good food and drinking fine wine.  Must be nice.  And if they think Boris will be any better leader after his little vacation … think again.


Bye Steve!

Well, it looks like a small bit of justice has been handed down and Steve Bannon is actually going to prison for defying a subpoena to appear before the January 6th committee.  He was convicted back in July on two charges of Contempt of Congress – one for failing to appear for a deposition and the other for refusing to provide documents requested by the committee.  This morning, Judge Carl Nichols handed down a four-month prison sentence – about four years less than he deserves, but at least it’s something.  Or is it?  The judge ‘paused’ the sentence until Bannon’s appeal can be heard.  Welcome to another episode of “Drag Our Feet”, for Bannon will likely be long dead before he sees the inside of a prison cell.


Boomerang LePage

Some politicians, usually the worst of the worst, just won’t go away … they keep coming back like a boomerang or more aptly, a bad penny.  Just one example is former Maine governor Paul LePage, a blatant racist who was voted out in 2016.  You can read some of LePage’s lunacy in my two 2016 posts about him:  Another Unsavory Politician … LePage  and Time For A Change In The Governor’s Mansion!.  Suffice it to say that the man is one brick short of a dozen, is a cruel and bigoted excuse for a man, and yet he has the unmitigated gall to run for his old position yet again?  Fortunately, it doesn’t look like he’s doing too well against incumbent Janet Mills.  Which of these two people would you want for governor …


Okay, folks, that’s all the snarking I’ve got time for today but you know there’ll be more soon!  Have a great weekend ahead!

The (Sort Of) Final Word …

Did you watch the televised hearings, probably the last one, on Thursday afternoon?  In case you missed it, you can still see it here.  Dan Rather’s assessment of the proceedings is well stated, so rather than attempt to re-invent the wheel (mine would no doubt turn out square), I turn you over to Dan & Elliot from their newsletter on Thursday evening following the hearings.


Breaking The Republic

January 6 wasn’t an accident

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

(Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

“That, my fellow citizens, breaks the republic.” 

This was the chilling conclusion of Liz Cheney today at the January 6 hearings over what would have happened if the guardrails of our democracy, exposed for their frailty in 2020, had buckled to an autocrat determined to hold onto power. And the danger remains. “Without accountability, it all becomes normal, and it will recur,” Cheney warned. 

Cheney’s statement is striking in its simplicity and its power. Her audience is her “fellow citizens,” the ones who will be going to the polls in less than a month to decide who should lead this nation going forward. Her fellow Republicans have cast Cheney as a pariah for having the courage to state the truth: that their leader wanted to destroy America as we know it. 

What the committee presented today shed a spotlight on the authorship of this historic tragedy. It is Trump who is the playwright, conjuring and casting the roles of those who would act out his destructive intentions. It was he who dreamt up and directed a frontal attack on American democracy. But he couldn’t have done it without his willing accomplices. 

Today, we saw footage of members of Congress grappling in real time with a deteriorating situation on January 6 that could have ended with more bloodshed and the decimation of governmental order. We could feel a visceral fear in their actions and words, not only for their own personal safety but for the safety of the nation they had sworn an oath to serve. Those who could have intervened, starting with the president but including his top aides inside the White House, were absent. And that is just as the president wanted it. We heard today evidence that Trump knew he had lost, and he didn’t care what it would take to retain power.

This man who shamelessly pounds his chest with protestations of patriotism, who literally wraps himself in the American flag, who demonizes his political opponents as haters of America is really the one who views our imperfect experiment in self-governance with disgust. Elections. The rule of law. Peaceful transfers of power. The will of the people. These are the pillars of our nation’s foundation. But for Trump, that’s all just for suckers. He had the presidency, and he didn’t plan on relinquishing it, no matter what the voters or the Constitution said. 

January 6 wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a rally that spun out of control. It was a dangerous and violent storm threatening our nation’s core principles and our whole system of representative democracy. Stop and ponder that. Then remember that it should have been no surprise. The committee has made clear that the plan had been on the radar for weeks. There was plenty of evidence in advance that Trump and his cronies were planning to disregard the verdict of the election if it went against him. 

But details and evidence uncovered since have been stunning, including documentary footage of longtime Trump loyalist Roger Stone played today. Here is what Stone had to say even before Election Day (excuse the language, please): “I say fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence.” Was what we saw on January 6 a Plan B, or really a Plan A?

One of the great attributes of this committee is expert storytelling, laying out, with gripping detail, a narrative — a true story — about the attempted destruction of our democratic order. They have carefully traced the origins of this horror to before the election. They have shown the rising danger and threats of violence. They have identified villainy, led by the president. They have explained with breathtaking intimacy what took place on January 6. And they have made very clear that that day’s actions, while dramatic, were not a denouement. How this story ends is currently unknowable. We will have a better sense after the midterm elections and with the Department of Justice’s decision if, how, and whom to prosecute. 

There is a lot about what we heard today, and in the previous hearings, that is infuriating. It also is hard not to feel a deep sadness about the precariousness of our democracy. But we can find hope in the service of this committee. They are saying to all of us, “This happened. Let us not let it happen again. And let us hold those responsible, accountable.” 

They believe that most Americans cherish our self-governance, our stability, and our rule of law. They believe that if we know the truth, that we will do everything in our power, as a people, as a nation, to protect against its recurrence. 

Does that belief still hold? Or are we now so divided that we can no longer be sure? This is the overriding question as our beloved America evolves in the first quarter of the 21st century.

January 6th Committee And More …

Yesterday I watched what I presume will be the final televised hearing of the January 6th Committee.  At a few points I felt tears welling up, at other points rage took over.  I must commend the committee for they have done an excellent and thorough job, despite the obstacles they have had to overcome.  As Ms. Cheney said in her opening remarks, their job is not to bring charges, but to investigate and make referrals.  It now falls to the Department of Justice to bring those charges and make them stick, to ensure that the name “Donald Trump” is not ever on a ballot in this nation again.

Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states that no person who took an oath in a public office and then participated in any way in an insurrection against the nation can ever be allowed to hold public office again.  Bennie Thompson and his January 6th committee have clearly presented evidence of Trump’s involvement in the insurrection/attempted coup of January 6, 2021.  Now, it is up to Merrick Garland to stop pussyfooting around and bring those charges!


A couple of other thoughts from Filosofa’s bouncy mind …

A sentence for life may be worse

For the record, I do not believe in the death penalty.  Oh, I used to.  I once thought it was not right for taxpayers to have to provide food, shelter and clothing for decades for a convicted murderer who would never be an asset to society.  But, while I was doing post-graduate work many years ago, I took a course by The Innocence Project and my views changed.  I learned about the times that people have been proven innocent, sometimes decades after being found guilty by a jury, and … well, what if we had executed them?  It’s bad enough to think of an innocent man spending 20-30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, but if we executed him … there can be no remedy or reparations.

That said, I was momentarily taken aback last night when I read the jury’s decision in the case of Nikolas Cruz, the young man who murdered 17 people at Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.  The jury was fully expected to hand down a death sentence, but instead went with life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Understandably, families of the victims were horrified and angry.  My first thought was that this might be the one time I would make an exception to being against the death penalty, for Cruz pleaded guilty on all 17 counts and there was no possibility that he would later be found innocent.  But then I thought a little bit about it and …

I think Cruz will come to the point of wishing he had received a death sentence.  Life in prison.  He is only 24 years of age, so he could quite reasonably spend 50 years or more behind bars.  And given his crime, the brutal murder of children, he will not be treated kindly by either fellow inmates or prison staff.  Imagine never taking a walk in the woods, cooking your own food, going to bed and getting up at your own will again.  Never.  For decades.  Oh yes, I think life in prison will end up being a much worse punishment than a quick execution would have been.  In many ways, he will already be dead, yet still feel the pain with none of the joy of being alive.  It is good enough for him.


And speaking of school shootings …

Another trial for Alex Jones, the man without a conscience, whose blatant lies and cooked up conspiracy theories led families of the murdered children in Sandy Hook Elementary School through a living hell.  Yesterday, a jury ordered Jones to pay just short of $1 billion to the families of the victims.  One lawyer called it “probably one of the largest defamation verdicts in U.S. history.” Deservedly so.

But do you think that for one minute Mr. Jones displayed grief or remorse for his actions?  Think again.  Jones pumped his fist in the air and said, “This is hilarious. Do these people actually think they’re getting any money?”  What a slap in the face to the twenty children and six teachers who were killed in the 2012 shooting.  What a knife to the heart of their surviving families.  But wait … there’s more!

In the hours after Wednesday’s verdict, Jones’ supporters collectively donated no less than $185,000 to Mr. Jones, claiming that “left wing radicals are attempting to destroy Alex via the court system.”  The people who donated even so much as one dollar to Jones need serious psychiatric counseling!  Mr. Jones is the definition of cruelty and not worthy of the air he sucks up on this planet.  There are far more worthy causes that I could find to donate money to than a man who attempted to make a mockery of the deaths of children!

Election By Vote … Or By Violence?

At least two things I read yesterday chilled me to the bone.  The first was from a newsletter I receive via email written by Charlie Sykes in The Bulwark.  Here are a few snippets from his piece …

The January 6 Committee has postponed today’s hearing because of the massive Hurricane bearing down on Florida. But we have an idea what we were going to see.

The committee plans to show a video of Trump Whisperer Roger Stone enthusiastically declaring, “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence,” even before the votes were counted in 2020.

“Shoot to kill. See an antifa? Shoot to kill. Fuck ’em. Done with this bullshit.”

The video clips obtained by CNN and were recorded by Danish filmmakers Frederik Marbell and Christoffer Guldbrandsen. In the clips Stone relishes the prospect of bloodshed.

Later that day, as The Post previously reported, Stone seemed to welcome the prospect of clashes with left-wing activists. As an aide spoke of driving trucks into crowds of racial justice protesters, Stone said: “Once there’s no more election, there’s no reason why we can’t mix it up. These people are going to get what they’ve been asking for.”

In one clip, Stone is seen telling MAGA supporters that they should declare victory on election night, no matter what the results showed. “I really do suspect it’ll still be up in the air,” Stone says. “When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory.”

The second chilling thing I read was from a CBS News report

“More than 18 months after the rioting at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, an estimated 13 million U.S. adults, or 5% of the adult population, agree that force would be justified to restore former President Donald Trump to the White House and an estimated 15 million Americans believe force would be justified to prevent Trump from being prosecuted , should he be indicted for mishandling classified documents, according to a new study from the University of Chicago.” [Emphasis added]

I have written recently about the violence that seems to be becoming the norm in this country, how violence has never solved any problems, and how we simply must learn to think with our brains instead of our guns, fists, knives, etc.  But still, the bloodlust continues.  Why?

Do voices like those of Roger Stone, Donald Trump, and others who encourage violence really reach so far that tens of millions of people buy into their rhetoric?  Or perhaps phrasing it another way, are tens of millions of people really so ignorant as to fall prey to those like Stone, Trump and others?

This propensity for violence is made even more frightening when coupled with the number of guns that are in the hands of these same people.  There are approximately 436 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States today.  For comparison purposes, there are approximately 332 million people in the U.S.  A few statistics here …

  • There are approximately 77.49 million adult gun owners in the US.
  • 2020 is believed to have had the highest number of firearm sales in history, with 39,695,315 background checks for the sale of firearms and explosives.
  • Approximately 30% of American adults own a gun.
  • Another 36% of adults could see themselves owning a gun in the future.
  • The average American gun owner owns five guns.
  • Personal protection is the most frequently cited reason for owning a gun.
  • Texas is the state with the most guns, while Delaware is the state with the least.
  • Wyoming is the state with the most guns per capita, while New York is the state with the fewest.
  • Handguns are the most commonly owned type of gun, followed by rifles, then shotguns.
  • Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to own a gun.

So, we have a Recipe for Disaster.

  • Preheat
    • national temperature by lying repeatedly until large numbers of people believe the lies
  • Combine ingredients
    • Lies that Democrats are ‘coming to take away your guns’
    • Lies that LGBTQ people are somehow evil and are trying to take over your children’s minds
    • Lies that Black people are inferior and are trying to take over the nation
    • Lies that immigrants are criminals who will rob, kill and rape peoples’ families
    • Rhetoric shouted by politicians and their hired guns
  • Bake at escalating temperature until November 8th

I have to ask myself, as I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves, is this really a nation I want to live in, to be a part of?  If the few can have dominance over the many, and if those few are willing to shoot the rest of us to have their way, can this country really be said to be a democracy?  The answer to that is no, a democracy is …

“A system of government by the whole population, typically through elected representatives, by the majority of its members.”

By that definition, the United States is not a democracy when far too many of its members are kept from having a voice through various voter suppression ‘laws’, and currently the minority is planning to take over by hook or by crook.

History has shown that a foundation built on violence, built on robbing people of their rights, is not sustainable for long.  We have an opportunity in November to ensure those who support such treachery as proposed by the likes of Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and others never happens.  Or, we can sit back and tell ourselves the fairy tale that it will all somehow work out in the long run.  Your choice.

Is The Teflon Wearing Out?

Even Teflon eventually gets old, wears out, and is no longer able to keep things from sticking.  The former guy has long been referred to as “Teflon Don” because he has lied, cheated, and stolen for the entirety of his adult life, yet has never had to pay a price.  In 2016 when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” most of us scoffed and took it as just more of his hyperbole.  Since then, however, he has committed numerous crimes and treacheries against the nation, against We the People, and the Republicans continue to cheer and support him.  It seemed for a while that he was right, that he was somehow able to escape unscathed where the rest of us would be in prison, probably for life!  But this week, the tides seem to be turning.  Dan and Elliot sum it up rather nicely …


Trump Had a Day

And it might get worse

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

21 September 2022

NY Attorney General Letitia James announcing that her office is suing former President Donald Trump and three of his children. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Well, well, well. Let’s just say that Donald Trump has had better days.

This could be one of his worst, but there may be far worse ones coming down the line if today turns out to be a preface and not a denouement.

This morning started off bad enough.

New York Attorney General Letitia James made it known that she was going to issue a “major announcement.” And she did not disappoint. The lawsuit she filed in state court is in essence a guided missile aimed right at the heart of the Trump family business. Calling the level of fraud she uncovered “staggering,” James outlined a list of facts that could have been a plotline in The Sopranos.

And it isn’t just the patriarch in her legal crosshairs. The three children who have been foisted upon the American public — Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka — also earned starring roles in the court papers.

While this is a civil suit, that’s because James is limited from bringing criminal charges. She did refer her findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but if they choose to press forward, they will likely have to get in line.

That’s because as rough as this morning’s news cycle was for Trump, more pain was in the offing.

This evening, the 11th Circuit ruled on the outrage that has been festering over the investigation into the classified documents the former president took (for still unknown reasons, at least publicly) to Mar-a-Lago.

If Trump was hoping that Trump judges at the appellate level would fall in line like Judge Cannon (the district judge who’s done legal backflips well beyond the bounds of precedent or prudence to accommodate Trump), he was sorely mistaken. Two Trump judges sided with an Obama appointee to issue a stinging rebuke of the lower court’s ruling — a ruling that most judicial experts had felt was about as serious as an episode of Laugh In.

I will leave it to legal scholars to parse the specifics of the lawsuits and rulings, but some big things are clear. One, Trump is in trouble. Big trouble. And not the kind of trouble that he can squirm his way out of by bloviating to Sean Hannity or browbeating Mitch McConnell. He’s on the defensive, and pressure is closing in from all directions.

The timing of these quickening drumbeats of scrutiny overlap with the final stretch of the midterm elections — into which Trump has vociferously inserted himself according to the only metric he knows: what benefits him. November thus is shaping up to be a referendum on Trumpism, to the dismay of many Republican officials. But those same Republicans have made a decision en masse to embrace Trump, at least publicly. From a cynical political calculus one can understand why. The Republican base is the Trump base, or maybe it’s more accurate to put that the other way around.

It is also clear that the core of this base is not enough to power Republicans to majorities in Congress. And yet, if the base stays home, Republicans also will lose.

With so much at stake, the unknowns hanging over Trump and his legal jeopardy are very consequential. How bad might this get for Trump and those who have fastened themselves to him? Will more be revealed? Will any Republicans decide that they need to separate themselves from Trump? Will that lead to disarray within the party as election day approaches? All of this is possible. But it is also possible that Trump skates by once again, at least for now. It is possible that Republicans take back Congress, and they frame their victory as a validation of Trumpism, nevermind what it means for the health and security of the country.

Right now it looks like a close election, but tides can shift, sometimes drastically. Support can crumble. What once looked like strength can be recast as weakness. Just ask one of the few people having a rougher go of it of late than Trump — Vladimir Putin.

Oh, and in other late-breaking news, the January 6th committee has come to an agreement to interview Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni Thomas. Can’t forget about that investigation.

One imagines all is not quiet tonight in Mar-a-Lago.