Coupgate? Trumpgate?

This week will begin the televised hearings of the January 6th committee and while I’m not holding my breath, I am hopeful that the American public will at least be convinced of one thing:  Donald Trump is a crook, a criminal, who attempted a coup to overturn the U.S. election in 2020 and can NEVER be allowed to hold public office again.  Robert Reich gives us a comparison to another set of televised hearings 49 years ago … all the news then, but Watergate pales in comparison to what happened on January 6th 2020.


The Week Ahead: Why everything depends on Liz Cheney

Forty-nine years ago, Howard Baker had a similar responsibility — but hers will be far more challenging

Robert Reich

The televised hearings of the House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection, which begin Thursday, mark an historic milestone in the battle between democracy and autocracy. The events that culminated in the attack on the Capitol constitute the first attempted presidential coup in our nation’s 233-year history. The Select Committee’s inquiry is the most important congressional investigation of presidential wrongdoing since the Senate investigation of the Watergate scandals in the 1970s.

To a large degree, the success of those hearings will depend on the Wyoming Republican congresswoman and vice-chair of the committee, Liz Cheney. Although I have disagreed with almost every substantive position she has ever taken, I salute her courage and her patriotism. And I wish her success.

I vividly recall the televised hearings of the Senate Watergate committee, which began nearly a half-century ago, on May 17, 1973. More than a year later, on August 8, 1974 —knowing that he would be impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate — Nixon resigned.

I was just finishing law school when the Watergate hearings began. I was supposed to study for final exams but remained glued to my television. I remember the entire cast of characters as if the hearings occurred yesterday, and I’m sure many of you do, too — people such as North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, a Democrat, who served as the committee’s co-chair; John Dean, the White House counsel who told the committee about Nixon’s attempted coverup; and Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, who revealed that Nixon had taped all conversations in the White House.

But to my young eyes, the hero of the Watergate hearings was the committee’s Republican co-chair, Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, Jr.

Baker had deep ties to the Republican Party. His father was a Republican Congressman and his father-in-law was Senate minor­ity leader for a decade. Notwithstanding those ties, Baker put his loyalty to the Constitution and rule of law ahead of his loyalty to his party or the president. His steadiness and care, and the tenacity with which he questioned witnesses, helped America view the Watergate hearings as a search for truth rather than a partisan “witch hunt,” as Nixon described them.

It was Baker who famously asked Dean, “what did the president know and when did he know it?” And it was Baker who led all the other Republicans on the committee to join with Democrats in voting to subpoena the White House tapes — the first time a congres­sional commit­tee had ever issued a subpoena to a Pres­id­ent, and only the second time since 1807 that anyone had subpoenaed the chief executive.

Fast forward 49 years. This week, Baker’s role will be played by Cheney. Her Republican pedigree is no less impressive than Baker’s was: She is the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Second Lady Lynne Cheney. She held several positions in the George W. Bush administration. She is a staunch conservative. And, before House Republicans ousted her, she chaired the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership.

Cheney’s responsibility this week will be similar to Baker’s 49 years ago — to be the steady voice of non-partisan common sense, helping the nation view the hearings as a search for truth rather than a “witch hunt,” as Trump has characterized them.

In many ways, though, Cheney’s role will be far more challenging than Baker’s. Forty-nine years ago, American politics was a tame affair compared to the viciousness of today’s political culture. Republican senators didn’t threaten to take away Howard Baker’s seniority or his leadership position. The Tennessee Republican Party didn’t oust him. Nixon didn’t make threatening speeches about him. Baker received no death threats, as far as anyone knows.

It will be necessary for Cheney to show — as did Baker — more loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law than to her party or the former president. But she also will have to cope with a nation more bitterly divided over Trump’s big lie than it ever was over Nixon and his coverup of the Watergate burglary. She will have to face a Republican Party that has largely caved in to Trump’s lie — enabling and encouraging it. Baker’s Republican Party never aligned itself with Nixon’s lies. Meanwhile, Cheney’s career has suffered and her life and the lives of her family have been threatened.

The criminal acts for which Richard Nixon was responsible — while serious enough to undermine the integrity of the White House and compromise our system of government — pale relative to Trump’s. Nixon tried to cover up a third-rate burglary. Trump tried to overthrow our system of government. The January 6 insurrection was not an isolated event. It was part of a concerted effort by Trump to use his lie that the 2020 election was stolen as a means to engineer a coup, while whipping up anger and distrust among his supporters toward our system of government. Yet not a shred of evidence has ever been presented to support Trump’s claim that voter fraud affected the outcome of the 2020 election.

Consider (to take but one example) Trump’ phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he pressured Raffensperger to change the presidential vote count in Georgia in order to give Trump more votes than Biden: “All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensperger in a recorded phone call. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” Trump threatened Raffensperger with criminal liability if he did not do so. Trump’s actions appear to violate 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and 18 U.S.C. § 1512, obstruction of Congress.  

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into these activities. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that the Justice Department will “follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.” As with Watergate, the facts will almost certainly lead to the person who then occupied the Oval Office.

This week’s televised committee hearings are crucial to educating the public and setting the stage for the Justice Department’s prosecution. Federal district court Judge David Carter in a civil case brought against the Committee by John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer and adviser in the coup attempt, has set the framework for the hearings. Judge Carter found that it was

 “more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” and concluded that Trump and Eastman “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history […] The illegality of the plan was obvious.”

Those who claim that a president cannot be criminally liable for acts committed while in office apparently forget that Richard Nixon avoided prosecution only because he was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford. Those who argue that Trump should not be criminally liable because no president in American history has been criminally liable, overlook the fact that no president in history has staged an attempted coup to change the outcome of an election. Without accountability for these acts, Trump’s criminality opens wide the door to future presidents and candidates disputing election outcomes and seeking to change them — along with ensuing public distrust, paranoia, and divisiveness.

Liz Cheney bears a burden far heavier than Howard Baker bore almost a half-century ago. Please watch this Thursday’s Jan. 6 Committee televised hearings. And please join me in appreciating the public service of Liz Cheney.

A Few Good Republicans?

Funny, isn’t it, that ‘freedom of speech’ as defined by some in this country only refers to speech that they agree with.  Take the well-publicized criticism by the Republican Party against Liz Cheney … they censured her and Adam Kinzinger for taking part in a commission established to investigate serious criminal activity on January 6, 2021.  They further censured Cheney for her criticism of Donald Trump, aka the former guy.  So, let me get this straight … freedom of speech means that Republicans can encourage and incite a destructive, death-causing insurrection, but that not a one of them is allowed, even under that First Amendment they cite so often, to criticize a ‘man’ who has earned criticism.  How, exactly, does that compute?  As the robot in the old television show Lost in Space used to say, “That does not compute.”  Even the infamous Mitch McConnell who I have referred to as a GOP lapdog, was aghast at the Republican National Committee’s verbiage, saying …

“We saw what happened. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”

The one possibly positive thing that may yet come of this mess is that it may ideologically split the Republican Party, thereby costing them seats in Congress this year, and any hope to regain the White House in 2024.

On February 7th, a group of around 150 notable Republicans signed a statement strongly disagreeing with the censure of Cheney & Kinzinger …

Statement of Republican Leaders and Former Officials on the RNC’s Censure of Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger

Last week the Republican National Committee (RNC) made clear that it would rather be the “Big Lie” party than the “Big Tent” party by condemning two principled elected leaders while condoning conspiracies, lies, and violent insurrection. By censuring Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger for their role in investigating the January 6th attacks, they have betrayed the GOP’s founding principles and ceded control of a once-great movement to grifters and extremists. The RNC has also signaled that it no longer welcomes people of conscience.

The RNC’s description of the January 6th insurrection as “legitimate political discourse” is an affront to the rule of law, peaceful self-government, and the constitutional order. There can be no justifying the horrific attack that day, and we condemn the Committee for excusing the actions of men and women who battered police officers, ransacked our nation’s Capitol, called for hanging the Vice President of the United States, and sought to overturn a free and fair election.

History will mark this censure as a turning point for the RNC – a time of choosing between civility and patriotism, on the one hand, and conspiracy and political violence on the other. We stand firmly for the first set of values. We stand proudly next to principled leaders such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And we stand united against efforts to defile our democracy.

And it is signed by former members of Congress, Governors, Administrators, Cabinet Members and more – all Republicans!  Even some who served in the Trump administration signed the statement, such as Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as former communications director in Trump’s White House before quitting over his stolen election claims and Anthony Scaramucci, also a former communications director under Trump.

Will this be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back?  Will some in the Republican Party finally realize that the only things the party as a whole stands for are hatred and bigotry?  Will those with a sense of decency finally step forward and work toward re-structuring a badly broken political system?  We can only hope that there are enough in the Republican Party who put country ahead of party and who will work to rebuild a legitimate party with actual goals that will help the people in this country who most need help, not those who already live in the lap of luxury.

Thumbs Up To Mike Pence (And Other Stuff)

Mike Pence held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2013.  He was Governor of Indiana from 2013-2017 when he became the Vice President of the U.S.  Pence holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Hanover College and a Juris Doctor from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.  Mike Pence knows the law.  Donald Trump holds only a business degree and it is highly suspected that his father bought it since Donnie’s grades were far below par.  He does NOT know the law and furthermore doesn’t care … he makes it up as he goes and he seems to believe that his word, especially when he occupied the Oval Office, was the law.

On January 6th 2021, Mike Pence upheld the law, he certified the votes of We the People and refused to cave to the pressure being put upon him by Donald Trump, who had demanded that he refuse to hear our voices, our choices, and overturn what was a fair and honest election.  He followed the law and did his job, despite the violent people who tried to stop him, despite the fact there was a noose outside the Capitol with his name on it.  Now, I am no fan of Mike Pence because of his stance on such things as women’s rights and the LGBTQ community, however in all fairness, Mike Pence was a hero on that day.  And yesterday, Mike Pence also earned my respect and admiration.

Yesterday, speaking at the Federalist Society conference near Orlando, Florida, Pence sharply rebuked Trump for suggesting he had the ability to overturn the results of the 2020 election, calling the idea “un-American.”

“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. Frankly, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president. Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election.

The truth is, there’s more at stake than our party or our political fortunes. If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections — we’ll lose our country.”

Bravo, Mike Pence!  Naturally, the former guy couldn’t keep his mouth shut and issued a rambling, incoherent statement claiming that his position was correct, and Pence did have the power to reject the election outcome because of “irregularities” in the results.  Make no mistake, there were no “irregularities” and certainly none that would have affected the outcome of the election in any state … not a single state!  As I said, Mike Pence knows the law, Donald Trump does not.  Period.

The Republican Party leadership needs to put this one to bed, and while they’re at it, they need to end their support for the former guy who is a threat to the very core principles of this nation and a threat to We the People.  He must not be enabled, must not find support in the party leadership, and must not under any circumstances be allowed to run for public office ever again.  Meanwhile, give credit where credit is due, and Mike Pence deserves kudos for his courage in standing up for the rights of the people against his former boss.  Thank you, Mr. Pence.


Meanwhile …

The Republican Party voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for taking part in the House investigation of the events of and leading up to the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election on January 6th 2021.  But the GOP went even further, saying that Kinzinger and Cheney were participating in “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”  SAY WHAT????  The attempted coup, the attempt to overturn a valid and just election, to silence the voices of We the People, We the Taxpayers, was a “legitimate political discourse?”  BULLSHIT!!!  It was a bloody and violent staged action plotted by Trump and his minions, intended to destroy the government of the United States as we know it!!!

Liz Cheney (l.) and Adam Kinzinger on the January 6th House Special Committee to investigate the events of 01/06/2021

My hat is off to both Mr. Kinzinger and Ms. Cheney for their courage in the face harsh blowback from a madman and the party that has fallen prey to him.  Let us hope that in November the voters have enough intelligence to support these two who truly want to get to the bottom of what happened and why, in order to ensure it never happens again!  Like Mike Pence, Representatives Kinzinger and Cheney take seriously their Oath of Office, their obligation to the Constitution and the people of this nation.


And in other news …

Not long ago I wrote about newly-elected Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and some of the ‘executive orders’ he signed on his first day in office.  One of those orders was basically striking down mask mandates in schools, allowing parents to ‘opt out.’  Well, turns out there is some good common sense left somewhere, for yesterday Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo ruled in favor of seven school boards that filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s order.  Her temporary restraining order means mask mandates put in place by school boards may remain, at least for now.  Thumbs up to Judge DiMatteo and the school boards who actually care about the lives of their students.

A Couple of (Only Slightly) Snarky Snippets …

Just a couple of things on my mind this afternoon …


Beau takes on book banning

A few days ago I wrote a post about the recent trend in some states of banning books that educators or parents felt made the children ‘uncomfortable’.  Such books as Ruby Bridges Goes to School and books about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King have been banned in addition to numerous Pulitzer Prize-winning and classic books like Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  But the book that triggered my post was a comic book titled Maus, about the Holocaust.

Interestingly, I decided to purchase Maus, in part to support the book and its author, and in part because I want to read it now, to see if I can figure out what all the hoopla is about.  But, guess what?  Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both sold out of the book.  I found one through a private seller on Amazon, but could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the price tag starting at $199.99 (£147) … for the paperback edition!!!  Just goes to show that banning a book isn’t going to stop the sales of that book and is more than likely to encourage people to buy it!

At any rate, last night my friend Herb sent me this Beau of the Fifth Column video and as always, Beau hits the nail squarely on the head.  Take a look …


Some good news for a change …

From an OpEd in The Washington Post by conservative writer Henry Olsen …

“Fundraising reports for the fourth quarter of 2021 are in, and they don’t paint a pretty picture for candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump. Combined with polling data suggesting a decline in Trump’s relevance to Republican voters, they might just indicate that Trump’s ice-like grip on the party is slowly thawing.”

Olsen claims this is bad news, but then he and I don’t look at U.S. politics through the same lens.  I see this as very good news.  He continues …

“… not a single Trump-backed federal candidate raised $1 million in the last three months of the year. Many raised abysmally pitiful totals. John Gibbs, Trump’s pick for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, raised only $51,000. Trump’s favorite in the Alabama Senate primary, Rep. Mo Brooks, raised only $386,000; both of his major competitors topped $1 million. Even Harriet Hageman, Trump’s favorite to take out Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, brought in only $443,000. If Team Trump can’t even raise money to beat Cheney, something’s going wrong.”

In contrast, Liz Cheney raised over $7 million last year!  Interestingly, Republican former president George W. Bush has donated to both Liz Cheney and Lisa Murkowski, both of whom defied the GOP and voted to convict Trump in his 2nd impeachment trial!  There’s hope yet that sanity will reign!


And let’s finish with a few ‘toons, shall we?

Being Awful a Prerequisite for GOP

I have not been up to reading blogs for several weeks now, but lying awake at 4:00 a.m., I decided to read this one of Jeff’s, for the title intrigued me. What Jeff says here is spot on and echoes my own thoughts exactly, only he says it far better than I could. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Growing up in Northeast Ohio in the 1960s and 70s, one thing my mother always taught me was to be polite. Yes, the golden rule is what many call the practice: Treat others as you wish to be treated. I’ve tried my level best to adhere to that mindset my entire life. Maybe I’ve fallen short here and there, but when I depart this earth at some point, I’ll have no regrets that I fulfilled my mom’s hope for her youngest son.

I’m beginning to wonder if the golden rule is slowly slipping away from us as a society. We don’t seem to care for our fellow human beings as we should. When you think about it, we’re not on this earth for a very long time. Why wouldn’t we at least make an honest effort to make it a more hospitable and friendly place?

When it comes to the…

View original post 1,124 more words

Still Recovering From The Hugs & Kisses …

Today, I would like to introduce you to two anomalies.  These are people, relatively young people, who serve in the U.S. Congress and are members of the Republican Party.  What, you ask, makes them an anomaly?  Two things:  they are intelligent and most importantly, they have a conscience.  Yes, a conscience … I know it’s hard to believe in this, the 21st century, the age of Republican far-right lunacy and conspiracy theories.  The two people I wish to introduce you to today are Liz Cheney, representative from Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, representative from Illinois.  They’ve both been in the news enough that you no doubt know their names.

They are, to the best of my knowledge, the only two congressional republicans who will be serving on the House Select Committee to investigate the events of and leading up to January 6th, the day insurgents attacked Congress and attempted to overthrow our election, our choice, our government.  Cheney and Kinzinger are not serving by appointment via House Minority Leader McCarthy, but they are serving voluntarily, because their conscience demands that they be a part of finding the truth.  Their goal is not, as Jim Jordan’s and Jim Banks’ would have been, to disrupt the proceedings, to whitewash the details, to bury the facts, and to play the “whaddaboutism” game, rather their goal is to find out who was involved in the planning of the attempted coup, who played a role in inciting and encouraging the ignorant masses who stormed the U.S. Capitol that day, and bring those people into the spotlight, bring them to justice.  Their goal is to ensure that such an event can never happen again, that the remnants of a democracy will not be turned to ash and buried.

As expected, GOP leaders, if they can be called such, are attacking Cheney and Kinzinger, accusing them of harboring an anti-Trump agenda and suggesting they’re just doing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bidding. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy even debuted a new label on Monday, tagging Kinzinger and Cheney as “Pelosi Republicans.”  I wonder if he thinks this is funny?  If he does, then I am more convinced than ever that he has the mentality of a teenager sniggering behind the girls’ gym locker room.  Meanwhile, a growing number of House Republicans are clamoring for Kinzinger and Cheney to face internal consequences for accepting committee seats from Speaker Pelosi.  I guess in their case, political loyalties outweigh loyalty to country.

STOP!!!  This is not an US vs THEM contest!!!  Or is it?  The Democrats … nay, most of the people in this nation … want to know what happened, how it was that our very core of values, of governance, could come so close to toppling.  WE the PEOPLE want to know who, what, why, when, and HOW.  We want to know who in our government colluded, incited, and plotted against the voice of those of us who voted our conscience.  I think we can probably all guess most of them, but I want to see the irrefutable evidence, then I want the Department of Justice to see that they pay the price for their seditious actions.

On Tuesday, the select committee to investigate January 6th held its first hearings.  I haven’t yet watched the entire testimony of the four police officers who were called on to testify, but I have seen enough to break my heart.  In one clip I watched, Representative Cheney said, “You hear former president Trump say, ‘It was a loving crowd.  There was a lot of love in the crowd.’”  And then she asked Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, “How does that make you feel?”  His response …

“To me, it’s insulting, just demoralizing because of everything that we did to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt. And what he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he begged them to continue fighting. I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day that he claimed.”

Officer Gonell stayed on duty, despite being injured, throughout the night, going home only after the votes were certified, around 4:00 a.m.  Despite pleas by his wife and his doctor, he continued to work for the next fifteen days, until finally his foot became so bad that he couldn’t get a shoe on, and then doctors had to fuse together the broken bones in his foot.  He will also need surgery on his shoulder.  Both of his hands were injured, and he suffered chemical burns on his skin from the spray that was used as a weapon against him.  And yet, he didn’t miss a day’s work.  Why?

“My sense of duty for the country, for the Constitution, at that time was bigger than even my love for my wife and my son.”

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said one group of rioters, perhaps 20 people, screamed the n-word at him as he was trying to keep them from breaching the House chamber — racial insults he said he had never experienced while in uniform. At the end of that day, he sat down in the Capitol Rotunda and sobbed …

“I became very emotional and began yelling, ’How the (expletive) can something like this happen?’ Is this America? My blood is red. I’m an American citizen. I’m a police officer. I’m a peace officer.

Four officers testified on Tuesday, two Capitol police officers and two officers with the D.C. police force.  One of the D.C. officers was Michael Fanone, who has been vocal about the events of that day … understandably, since he was brutally beaten, thrown down the stairs, tased, and suffered a heart attack, among other injuries.  Officer Fanone was understandably hurt and angry during his testimony and at one point slammed his fist on the table in front of him.…

“What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend are downplaying or outright denying what happened. I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. Too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”

I began this post talking about the courage of Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger.  After Tuesday’s testimony by the four officers, Adam Kinzinger was so overcome that he was near tears when he gave a tribute to the officers’ bravery …

“You guys may like individually feel a little broken. You guys all talk about the effects you have to deal with and, you know, you talk about the impact of that day, but you guys won. You guys held. You know, democracies are not defined by our bad days. We`re defined by how we come back from back from bad days.”

This picture tells you all you need to know about Liz Cheney’s reactions to their testimony.

Representative Liz Cheney hugs Officer Dunn after his testimony

We must find out who played a role, no matter how small, in the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, and those people must be removed from Congress, indicted, tried, and imprisoned.  Nothing less is acceptable. Sedition is a serious crime and frankly, we aren’t out of the woods yet, for many are calling January 6th simply a trial run.  As for the Republican’s hateful rhetoric … the press needs to stop covering it.  Full stop.  In reporting Kevin McCarthy’s and Louie Gohmert’s and others’ every word, they are fanning the flames.  We don’t need that.  We don’t give a rat’s ass what they have to say … we’re more interested in getting to the truth.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/15

As always, our friend TokyoSand has compiled the best editorial/political cartoons from the past week.  Naturally, a great number focus on the Republicans ousting of Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership role in the GOP, but there were other issues as well, such as the renewed fighting between Israel and Palestine, voter suppression by the Republicans, and more.  Thank you so much, TS, for finding the best of the lot for us!  Here are just a few samples, but be sure to check out the full post!

See All The ‘Toons Here!

Wait And See

An announcement letter in The Washington Post yesterday caught my eye.  The letter was written by a number of Republicans, including former members of Congress, cabinet members, and governors, and promises … I’m not sure if they are promising an entirely new party, or simply a more centrist, sensible arm of the Republican Party.

I am, by nature, a skeptic … question everything.  Trust nobody.  However, I am pleased to see that in the wake of the abhorrent treatment the party has heaped on not only Liz Cheney, but all who had the integrity to stand against the former guy and his Big Lie, I’m pleased to see that at least some notables in the GOP are not simply lying down and waiting for the bulldozer to flatten them.  I am, for now, taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude toward the whole thing, but will have more to say as I see the direction this group takes, see if they put their money where their collective mouths are.  Meanwhile, read the letter and check out their mission statement and outline with 152 notable signatories of what they hope to achieve.


The GOP has lost its way. Fellow Americans, join our new alliance.

Opinion by Charlie Dent, Mary Peters, Denver Riggleman, Michael Steele and Christine Todd Whitman

May 13, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. EDT

Charlie Dent represented Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House from 2005 to 2018. Mary Peters was secretary of transportation during the George W. Bush administration. Denver Riggleman represented Virginia’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House from 2019 to 2021. Michael Steele is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Christine Todd Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001.

The Republican Party made a grievous error this week in ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the House leadership for telling the truth about Donald Trump’s “big lie,” which has wreaked havoc in our democratic republic by casting doubt over the 2020 election.

Cheney rightfully struck back against party leaders and warned about the GOP’s dangerous direction. She is not alone.

Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing “A Call for American Renewal,” a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition.

We urge fellow Americans to join us.

Our alliance includes former governors, members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, state officials, seasoned political strategists and grass-roots leaders dedicated to offering a hopeful, principles-based vision for the country — and ensuring that our votes have decisive impact in key elections across the United States.

We want to give voice to the millions of Americans who feel politically homeless and mobilize them to help chart a new path forward for our country.

It is time for a rebirth of the American cause, which we will pursue in partnership and loyal competition with others committed to the preservation of our Union.

Tragically, the Republican Party has lost its way, perverted by fear, lies and self-interest. What’s more, GOP attacks on the integrity of our elections and our institutions pose a continuing and material threat to the nation.

The Jan. 6 insurrection was a wake-up call for many who had remained loyal to the party, even while harboring concerns about its direction.

Many have since left. The GOP has effectively become a privileged third party, ranking behind independents and Democrats in voter registration.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators are trying to impede voting rights across the country as a last-ditch effort to retain power.

We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act. If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party.

That means hastening the creation of an alternative: a political movement dedicated to our founding principles and divorced from the GOP’s obsessive cult of personality around a deeply flawed (and twice-impeached) man, whose favorability ratings are reportedly tanking in key swing districts around the country.

We will fight for honorable Republicans who stand up for truth and decency, such as Liz CheneyAdam KinzingerLisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, to name a few.

But we will not rely on the old partisan playbook. We intend to work across party lines with other Americans to oppose extremists and defend the republic wherever we can.

Together with our patriotic allies in other parties, our movement will stand against fearmongers, conspiracy theorists and the opportunists who seek unbridled power.

We plan to invest in a deeper bench of effective leaders in cities and states across the country while recruiting a new generation of principled, pragmatic citizens to the cause.

Some no doubt will urge us to join the Democratic Party. We believe that inching toward a single-party system would be dangerous and would fail to represent the diverse viewpoints in our nation.

America cannot have just one party committed to preservation of its democratic institutions. There must be at least two, if not more.

With Cheney’s dismissal from House leadership, the battle for the soul of the Republican Party — and our country — is not over. It is just beginning, which is why we are forming a “resistance of the rational” against the radicals.

We still hope for a healthy, thriving Republican Party, but we are no longer holding our breath.

Next month, we will convene a nationwide town hall open to all Americans and featuring current and former U.S. leaders who will lay out where we must go from here, how we can ensure a freer America and how all citizens can join the fight.

Extremists may have fired the first shot in this moral struggle for America’s future, but with truth as our lodestar, those laboring to renew America will fire the last.

We Are Not Okay

I guess a lot of us were naïve back in November when we celebrated Joe Biden’s win for the office of President.  I know I definitely was.  Oh sure, I knew we’d have to listen to the former guy pout and whine for a couple of months, but then he’d be gone, I thought, riding that train of irrelevance into obscurity for the rest of his life, and the nation could begin to heal.  And yes, I realized that Republicans weren’t going to just suddenly find their consciences again on January 20th and that everything would be a bed of roses … after all, Mitch McConnell was re-elected along with a fresh batch of nasties.  But still, I thought we were finally back on track to a government for the people, of the people, and by the people.  I was wrong … dead wrong.

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman writes about where we stand today, the good that is happening under the Biden administration, but also the dangers that we still face in the months and years ahead, and a prophetic warning, if we don’t get our act together.


Trump’s Big Lie Devoured the G.O.P. and Now Eyes Our Democracy

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t.

We are not OK. America’s democracy is still in real danger. In fact, we are closer to a political civil war — more than at any other time in our modern history. Today’s seeming political calm is actually resting on a false bottom that we’re at risk of crashing through at any moment.

Because, instead of Trump’s Big Lie fading away, just the opposite is happening — first slowly and now quickly.

Under Trump’s command and control from Mar-a-Largo, and with the complicity of most of his party’s leaders, that Big Lie — that the greatest election in our history, when more Republicans and Democrats voted than ever before, in the midst of a pandemic, must have been rigged because Trump lost — has metastasized. It’s being embraced by a solid majority of elected Republicans and ordinary party members — local, state and national.

“Denying the legitimacy of our last election is becoming a prerequisite for being elected as a Republican in 2022,” observed Gautam Mukunda, host of Nasdaq’s “World Reimagined” podcast and author of the book “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Mattered.”

“This is creating a filter that over time will block out anyone willing to tell the truth about the election.” It will leave us with “a Republican Party where you cannot rise without declaring that the sun sets in the East, a Republican Party where being willing to help steal an election is literally a job requirement.”

This is not an exaggeration. Here is what Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told The Hill about the campaign within the party to oust Representative Liz Cheney from her House G.O.P. leadership position, because of her refusal to go along with the Big Lie:

“If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn’t going to lie to people. … She’s going to stand on principle.”

Think about that for a second. To be a leader in today’s G.O.P. you either have to play dumb or be dumb on the central issue facing our Republic: the integrity of our election. You have to accept everything that Trump has said about the election — without a shred of evidence — and ignore everything his own attorney general, F.B.I. director and election security director said — based on the evidence — that there was no substantive fraud.

What kind of deformed party will such a dynamic produce? A party so willing to be marinated in such a baldfaced lie will lie about anything, including who wins the next election and every one after that.

There is simply nothing more dangerous for a two-party democracy than to have one party declare that no election where it loses is legitimate, and, therefore, if it loses it will just lie about the results and change the rules.

That’s exactly what’s playing out now. And the more one G.O.P. lawmaker after another signs on to Trump’s Big Lie, the more it gives the party license at the state level to promote voter suppression laws that ensure that it cannot lose ever again.

Kimberly Wehle, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and author of the book “How to Read the Constitution — and Why,” writing in The Hill on Monday, noted that “as of late March, state legislators have introduced 361 bills in 47 states this year that contain limitations around voting, a 43 percent increase from just a month earlier.

“The measures include things like enhanced power for poll ‘monitors,’ fewer voting drop-boxes, restrictions on voting by mail, penalties for election officials who fail to purge voters from the rolls, and enhanced power in politicians over election procedures.”

Although G.O.P. supporters of these bills insist that they are about election integrity and security, Wehle added, “the lack of actual evidence of fraud and mismanagement in the American electoral system totally belies those cynical claims.”

This is the equivalent of lighting a fuse to a bomb planted beneath the foundations of our democracy.

Imagine if all or many of these measures are passed — and in 2022 and 2024 Republicans manage to retake the House, Senate and White House with, say, only 42 percent of the popular vote, effectively establishing minority rule. Do you know what will happen? Let me tell you what will happen. Disenfranchised Democratic voters will not sit idly by. They may refuse to pay their taxes. Many will take to the streets. Some might become violent, and our whole political system could become paralyzed and start to unravel.

Yet, this is precisely the path that Trump’s G.O.P. is setting us on.

Personally, I have reservations about where the left of the Democratic Party is pulling Biden on some economic, immigration, foreign policy and education issues. But Biden and his party are putting forth real ideas to try to address the real challenges that an increasingly diverse 21st-century America needs to address to become a more perfect union. The best tool for keeping the Democratic Party close to the center-left on more issues is a healthy Republican Party that hews to the center-right.

We don’t have that. We have, instead, a G.O.P. trying to cling to power by leveraging a Big Lie into voter suppression laws that leverage the party back to power by appealing solely to a largely white 20th-century America. Trump’s G.O.P. is making no effort to offer conservative alternatives to the issues of the day. Its whole focus is on how to win without doing that.

Which is why it is incumbent on every American to support in every way possible the few principled Republican legislators fighting this trend from the inside — like Liz Cheney, Representative Adam Kinzinger and Senator Mitt Romney.

What I learned covering the struggle for the future of the Arab-Muslim world post-9/11 is that the war of ideas inside is everything. Sure, it is important for outsiders to condemn bad behavior, but their voices have limited impact. Real change happens only when the war of ideas is won by insiders, working from the roots upward.

On Monday, CNN quoted Cheney as telling Republican donors and scholars at a retreat for the American Enterprise Institute in Sea Island, Ga.: “We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. … We can’t whitewash what happened on Jan. 6 or perpetuate Trump’s Big Lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on Jan. 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.” A “peaceful transfer of power must be defended.”

She could not be more right. And without a war of ideas inside the party, one that is won by principled Republicans, we run the real risk of a political civil war in America over the next election.

Things are not OK.

Unless more principled Republicans stand up for the truth about our last election, we’re going to see exactly how a democracy dies.

What The GOP Looks Like In The 21st Century

Is there a single member of the former guy’s inner circle who isn’t in deep legal doo-doo?  First, there’s Giuliani whose home and office were raided by the FBI last week and who is in more than one pot of boiling water.  Then there’s Jared Kusher whose apartment company has been charged with repeatedly violating state consumer protection laws by collecting debts without required licenses, charging tenants improper fees and misrepresenting the condition of rental units.  Former Attorney General William Barr is being investigated for a possible conflict of interest in the case against heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., and the list goes on.  Hopefully, at the end of the day, charges and indictments come down against the former guy himself, for he is undoubtedly at the helm of most of these issues.  It is my fondest hope to see the former guy in an orange jumpsuit and behind bars for the rest of his life.

And yet, the GOP goes on, producing more, nastier criminal types like Kevin McCarthy, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Margie Greene, Matt Gaetz and more.  In my mind, I can almost hear Richard Nixon loudly asserting that, “I am not a crook!”  In truth, Nixon was no more a crook than some 90% of today’s GOP … but he paid the price, while today’s lot are applauded.  The difference?  Probably the likes of Fox ‘News’, the New York Post, and other Murdoch-owned outlets that wouldn’t recognize truth if it hit them in the patootie, and the influence of social media.  Compared to Nixon in 1973, today’s liars and crooks have nearly unlimited coverage ‘round the clock … Twitter, Fox, Newsmax, Facebook … they are all complicit in giving voice to the lies, to giving the crooks a megaphone with which to make their meritless case.  To be a star on Twitter or Facebook, you needn’t be honest or intelligent … you only need to have a huge number of followers, which you can get by being off-the-wall outrageous.  Integrity?  Not necessary.  Honesty?  Not a requisite.

You’ll hear, from many on all sides of the fence, that “both sides do it”.  No, my friends.  While the Democrats are not beyond party loyalty, and while no doubt they tell a lie or two here and there, they are in no way the accomplished Pinocchios that today’s GOP is home to.  One single example:  The GOP and its right-wing media arm have put out the completely baseless lie that Joe Biden is “coming to take your beef burger”!  Biden has never, to the best of my knowledge, even mentioned cutting beef consumption, and he’s a smart enough man to know he’d find his head on the chopping block if he did.  Now personally … my family and I eat beef maybe once a month, so I really don’t care if the powers that be stop slaughtering cows, but that’s just me.

But you’ll hear it on Fox, you’ll hear it out of the mouths of the Republican fools … and there is not a single element of basis in fact for that outright lie.  It bears as much merit as if the Democrats put out the lie that Republicans are going to force every person over the age of 18 to own a gun.  But see, we don’t need to make up lies about the Republicans, for they make themselves look bad every day without our help!  They think we sit around trying to find ways to make them look like idiots, but they’ve done that job for us!

But let us talk about substance … if the Republicans don’t like President Biden’s ideas, why don’t they come up with alternate policy proposals, meet at the table, and give a little, take a little, ending with a compromise that benefits the nation?  Why don’t they propose ways to ensure that everyone, regardless of employment, gender, ethnicity, or religion has affordable health care?  Why don’t they give us their ideas for how to repair the damage done to the Earth’s environment by humans?  Why don’t they propose ways to meet the challenges that face us in the 21st century?  Why?  Because they have none, because they are too busy being the party of racism, of negativity, of conspiracy theories, to actually propose meaningful, useful, legislation.  Does anybody doubt that they have spent more time promoting the Big Lie than thinking about how to help the people of this nation?

Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, when asked about the beating of Representative Liz Cheney by other Republicans because she stood by her beliefs in voting to impeach the former guy, replied …

“If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn’t going to lie to people. Liz is going to say what she believes. She’s going to stand on principle. And if that’s going to be distracting for folks, she’s not the best fit. I wish that weren’t the case.”

And that, folks, sums it up in a nutshell … if you have a conscience, if you are honest and a person of integrity, then you are “not the best fit” for today’s Republican Party.  Need I say more?