Archives for category: Trump

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch excoriated retiring Senator Roy Blunt as a symbol of a cowering GQP establishment that failed to stand up to Trump. McDermott wonders why newcomer Josh Hawley has a national profile (as a Trump lackey), but the senior senator from Missouri is virtually unknown outside the state.

Unfortunately, Blunt also has personified what establishment Republicans became during the Trump era: passive enablers to a chronically mendacious, constitutionally malicious, mentally unfit president.

And now Blunt is, once again, personifying the GOP establishment, this time by exiting the extremist bunker that his party has become — a trend that intensified under Trump, as Blunt and others at the grownups’ table stared down at their plates in mute terror...

Blunt, just by virtue of his position in the Senate Republican hierarchy, could have forced a historic shift in the narrative of the Trump era had he done what he could have — shouldhave — done at any point during Trump’s tenure. Blunt could have walked up to any microphone in sight after some Trumpian outrage or other (the available choices were constant) and said what he knows is true: “This isn’t who we are. As a party, or as a country. Acceptance of this ignorant, corrosive sociopath of a president isn’t a valid trade for tax cuts and judges. It’s a selling of the soul, and I won’t do it anymore.

Yes, he would have lost his Senate Republican leadership role and probably his seat — the same seat he is now leaving willingly anyway. Meanwhile, it would have forced a badly needed self-examination by the GOP. Most importantly, Blunt might have provided a little cover for lower-ranking Republicans of conscience to follow suit.

Instead, Blunt mostly held his tongue for four years, voting twice to acquit Trump for his clearly impeachable offenses of trying to extort election aid from Ukraine and for inciting violent insurrection in an attempt to overturn the 2020 vote.

In essence, Blunt consistently backed a president who represented the most dire threat to constitutional democracy that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The fact that Blunt did this quietly, without the toxic enthusiasm of Hawley and his ilk, is irrelevant. What’s the point of having a grownups’ table if its occupants let the children overrun the place?

I wrote this article a few weeks ago. I submitted it to two major newspapers as an opinion piece. The editors at both newspapers said there were no cases in the judicial pipeline, and thus my proposal was impossible. But then on Monday February 22, the Supreme Court made a decision about a Trump challenge to the Pennsylvania balloting, rejecting it with a single sentence. That might have been the chance. Maybe there is another futile legal challenge that would make this plea possible. I offer it to you because I think it makes sense even if the op-ed editors don’t.

            The United States is split almost down the middle, as the last election demonstrated. Families and friends are hopelessly divided, and some people just can’t discuss politics anymore for fear of losing touch with people they care about. Some people blame Donald Trump, some blame Newt Gingrich, some trace the fissures back even farther in time. 

            Whenever it started, the issue today is how we are able to function as a nation when we can’t even agree on basic facts. The political polarization seems likely to last a long time, but at the very least we could heal some of the divisions by establishing one basic fact: Who won the last election. According to polls, most Republicans have been persuaded by former President Trump that the election was stolen from him. To this day, Trump continues to insist he won the election.

            There is only one tribunal where this issue of fact can be resolved to the satisfaction of almost all Americans, and that is the United States Supreme Court. The current composition of the Supreme Court heavily favors Republicans. Six of its nine members were appointed by Republican presidents: Chief Justice John Roberts (appointed by President George W. Bush); Justice Clarence Thomas (appointed by President George H.W. Bush); Justice Stephen Breyer (appointed by President Bill Clinton); Justice Samuel Alito (appointed by President George W. Bush); Justice Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by President Barack Obama); Justice Elena Kagan (appointed by President Barack Obama); Justice Neil Gorsuch (appointed by President Donald Trump); Justice Brett Kavanaugh (appointed by President Trump); and Amy Coney Barrett (appointed by President Trump). 

            Chief Justice John Roberts could lead the Court in deciding to consider one of the many challenges to the Presidential election of 2020. The Supreme Court declined to hear three challenges, and at least sixty cases were decided by state and federal courts. Surely, there must still be one in the pipeline that would allow the Supreme Court to review the evidence and reach a conclusion about whether the election was wrongly decided, whether there was massive voter fraud, and whether voting machines were rigged to favor the Biden-Harris ticket. One of the voting machine companies, Smartmatic, has been accused of “rigging” the vote in multiple states, but it was used only in Los Angeles County. Both Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems have filed massive defamation lawsuits against those who accused them of switching votes from Trump to Biden.

            A careful review by the Supreme Court could take into consideration the lengthy record of litigation in federal district courts and appeals courts where the Trump campaign was unable to produce any evidence for its claims of election fraud. Outside the courtroom, campaign officials made lurid charges of voter fraud, lost ballots, rigged machines, ballot dumps, and votes cast by dead people, but they didn’t repeat those claims in the courtroom because they had no evidence.

            If the nation is ever to heal, there must be a reckoning with the charges that are now poisoning our politics. A sizable portion of the nation does not believe that Joe Biden won the election. A significant part of the Republican Party believes that his presidency is illegitimate. Such claims damage the ability of our political system to function. These claims were the basis of the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that might have led to mass casualties, had it not been for the bravery of an overwhelmed Capitol Police force. Former President Trump has made clear that he will continue to insist that the election was stolen from him. He will not stop undermining his successor.

            Only an institution that has the trust of the majority of the American people, and especially an institution that has the trust of Republicans, can settle this matter to the satisfaction of the vast majority of our citizens. 

            Only the United States Supreme Court have the credibility to review the facts and set the record straight about the 2020 election. 

Jeff Bryant wrote in the LA Progressive about President Biden’s “golden opportunity” to strengthen public education by throwing out two decades of failed “reforms.”

As we now know (and Jeff did not when he wrote the article), Biden got off on the wrong foot by mandating another round of standardized testing this spring. This unwise decision was foretold when the news came out that the Biden administration had hired Ian Rosenblum as Deputy Assistant Secretary in a key part of the Department of Education, where policy and strategy are forged. Rosenblum was never a teacher. He previously worked for the pro-testing Education Trust New York, where John King was his mentor. When King was Commissioner of Education in New York, his heavy-handed advocacy for Common Core and high-stakes testing created the parent-led Opt Out movement.

The Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has not yet been confirmed; he is not anti-testing, but might he have been more thoughtful about mandating a renewal of testing in the midst of a global pandemic? Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten has not yet been confirmed; she knows that testing is an after-effect, not a cause of sensible education policies. But neither of them was in place. Was Rosenblum left on his own to impose a national mandate? I suspect that President Biden never heard of Ian Rosenblum, yet this young man has made millions of parents and teachers angry with his insensitive, heavy-handed announcement.

Yes, President Biden has a “golden opportunity” to rebuild and strengthen public education. But not by relying on people molded by the twenty years of failed “reforms” of the Bush-Obama-Trump years.

As Bryant points out, the schools need a new vision for education, not a stale, warmed-over dose of testing, accountability, and privatization. No, we do not need another dose of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Every Student Succeeds–all of which failed. It’s time to break free of the status quo. It’s time for fresh thinking. Filling up the U.S. Department of Education with retreads from the Obama years–and their progeny–will send us backwards, not forwards. Now is a time for sensitivity, not stupidity.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the latest FBI arrest of one of the domestic terrorists who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol:

A UCLA student who posted white supremacist views online and founded an ultra-right campus organization has been charged with federal crimes for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

The student, Christian Secor, was captured on video sitting in the chair that Vice President Mike Pence had hastily vacated after a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol, according to the FBI. 

FBI agents, assisted by a SWAT team, arrested Secor, 22, at his Costa Mesa home Tuesday morning after searching the residence, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman. 

Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., have charged Secor with assaulting or resisting a police officer, violent entry and remaining on restricted grounds, civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding. 

During an appearance in federal court in Orange County on Tuesday, a U.S. magistrate ordered that Secor be held without bail.

Secor was captured on both video and still images in a red Make America Great Again hat occupying the chair where Pence had sat while presiding over the Senate’s certification of electoral college votes, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Benjamin Elliott.

A man was captured on video camera inside the Senate chambers sitting at the Presiding Officer's chair

At least 11 tipsters identified Secor as the man in the video and still images either standing on the Senate floor or on the dais sitting in Pence’s chair… 

After video of the scene surfaced on the New Yorker’s website, investigators obtained security camera video of Secor in the hallways, Rotunda area and Senate floor, the affidavit said.

Moments earlier, Secor was with a mob forcing his way past at least three police officers and through a set of double doors into the Capitol, Elliott said in the sworn statement. 

“As a result of Secor and others pushing on the double doors … the doors opened and dozens of additional rioters flooded into the building,” Elliott wrote. “The Capitol Police officers were shoved by the crowd, at times trapped between the doors and the crowd, and eventually pushed out of the way of the oncoming mob.”

Agents also found that Secor had broadcast live from the Capitol using DLive, a videostreaming service built on blockchain technology. 

In the livestream, Secor uses the moniker Scuffed Elliot Rodger, an apparent reference to the man who killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014 and became a hero to “incels” — a fringe group of sexually frustrated men who blame women for their misery and often advocate for violence against them.

The Sun-Sentinel in South Florida wrote a scathing editorial about the Senate Republicans who failed to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection that endangered the lives of members of Congress as they fulfilled their Constitutional duty to certify the winner of the election.

It begins:

The Republican Party was on trial along with Donald Trump. Both now stand convicted, if not by the Senate, then definitely in the eyes of the nation and the world: The ex-president for planning, inciting and inflaming a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to keep himself in power, and the party for excusing that monumental crime against the American people.

The seven Republicans who voted him guilty were 10 too few to convict him, but they deserve the nation’s love and thanks for their devotion to the Constitution. So do the House impeachment managers, who made a virtually flawless case leading to the most bipartisan impeachment vote ever, 57 to 43.

The 43 senators whose votes acquitted him chose the wrong side in the eternal conflict between conscience and cowardice. They prostituted our democracy to a demagogue and despot. They made a dead letter of impeachment and set history’s stage for others like him.

Those contemptible senators, including Florida’s Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, have cost their party any claim to the respect and trust of the American people.

The damage is beyond repair. It has betrayed the nation. The moment calls for the remaining responsible Republicans, however few or many, to break away. The case for a new party is as urgent as when the GOP was founded in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery.

The nation cannot do without the political balance provided by a center-right party proudly bound to constitutional principles, such as the peaceful transfer of power. Until now, no president of either party had defied the expressed will of the voters.

But the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower has become the party of Trump, who holds it in such thrall that only 10 of its House members and seven of its 50 senators dared to hold him responsible for the worst crime it was possible for an American president to commit.

That so many others could accept his having put their own lives at risk on Jan. 6 can be understood only in the context of their political ambitions. Their careers matter more to them than anything else, least of all their oaths of office.

The party of Trump is extremist and infested with cadres of domestic terrorists like the Proud Boys, the Boogaloo Bois and the Oathkeeepers.

An example of its moral bankruptcy was the vote of the Wyoming party to censure Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, for her courageous vote to impeach Trump.

Abraham Lincoln would not recognize what Trump has made of the party, but Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez very well might.

The House impeachment managers proved beyond reasonable doubt every element of a cynical and criminal conspiracy on Trump’s part.

The editorial continues, and it is worth reading in full.

Mull over this line: “only 10 of its House members and seven of its 50 senators dared to hold him responsible for the worst crime it was possible for an American president to commit.

As Cong. Jamie Raskin asked on the Senate floor, “If these acts do not deserve impeachment, what does?”

It is hard to imagine anything worse for a president to do, unless he lined up his opposition and shot them. Would the 43 Republican Senators have held Trump accountable if he did that? One wonders.

Steve Chapman is a member of the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune. He wrote here what I was thinking. Trump did profound damage to our democracy, and a majority of Republicans endorsed his vicious attack on our Capitol and on democracy itself. He spent months complaining that the Presidential election was “rigged,” unless he won, in which case it would be valid. When he lost the election decisively, he refused to concede and launched a barrage of lawsuits, all claiming “voter fraud.” His lawyers never produced any proof of fraud, his obeisance Attorney General told him there was not enough fraud to change the outcome of the election, his director of election cyber security told him the election was fair (and was fired for it). YetTrump and his lackeys continued to rage about fraud, even though all his lawsuits were thrown out. He couldn’t even get a win from judges he appointed, which baffled him. Unwilling to admit defeat, he summoned his MAGA followers to DC on January 6, promising them a “wild” day.

Wild, it was, beginning with an incendiary 70-minute speech by Trump, urging the mob to March on the Capitol and “fight like hell” or lose their country. They did as he instructed. They broke through police lines. They were enraged and violent, beating the po’ice who tried to keep them out of the Capitol, which had not been invaded since the war of 1812. They sacked and ransacked the Capitol, while members of Congress, assembled to certify Joe Biden’s election, were hurriedly evacuated. There were only minutes between the physical evacuation of the legislators and the rush of the mob into their chambers. We can only speculate what would have happened if they had seized Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and other members of Congress. It might have been a bloody massacre. Trump watched the horror on television and did nothing to call off his followers. How close we came to a violent coup!

The whole world was watching as our democracy hung in the balance.

Was Donald Trump responsible? Of course he was. Mitch McConnell admitted as much after he voted to acquit him because he was a “private citizen.” This is the same McConnell who refused to start the trial while Trump was still in office.

The seven Republicans who voted to defend our democracy instead of licking Trump’s soiled boots deserve our thanks: Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Some of them, like Liz Cheney of Wyoming, were condemned by the leaders of their state Republican Party, for daring to defend the Constitution and their oath of office.

This is what Steve Chapman wrote (in part):

One of the most familiar lessons of the Donald Trump era is that no matter how bad today is, tomorrow can always be worse. We learned over and over that there is no bottom to his capacity for outrageous conduct, and there is no limit to his party’s tolerance for it.

Jan. 6 was one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the American republic. An incumbent president who had decisively lost his reelection roused his deranged disciples to launch a massive attack on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to keep him in office. It was an attempted coup, nothing less. Lives were lost, members of Congress and their aides were traumatized, and the president who instigated the attack took pleasure in it.

But Saturday’s Senate vote to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial was worse. Forty-three duly elected representatives of the people of their states chose to ignore or rationalize his shocking blitzkrieg. They repudiated their sworn duty to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

No American president has been so openly contemptuous of the constraints of the Constitution as Trump. He decided long ago to treat any defeat at the polls as the result of fraud, regardless of the reality. If the democratic processes of our system did not give him what he wanted, he would wage war on them. And he did — starting months before Americans went to the polls and continuing for months afterward.

Any elected government can be hijacked by a skilled and ruthless demagogue. But in the design of our system, Congress is supposed to serve as a counterweight to the president, jealous of its prerogatives and independent of the executive branch. The impeachment power is the ultimate check, allowing legislators to remove any president who abuses his office.

But the impeachment power now has about as much importance as the Third Amendment — which forbids quartering of soldiers in private homes during peacetime. Trump’s second acquittal leaves no doubt that for most Republican members of Congress, party comes before country, now and forever...

Congressional Republicans, with a handful of noble exceptions, are more than willing to excuse the inexcusable if it comes from a president who shares their partisan affiliation. Maybe they are afraid of the political consequences they would face for breaking with Trump. Maybe they think what he did to advance the GOP agenda — tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judges — is bigger than what he did to sabotage constitutional government.

Maybe some even relish the idea of right-wing extremists terrorizing elected officials to advance Republican policies. Whatever the motive, the damage is deep and possibly irreparable.

The danger produced by this dismal outcome is not so much that Trump will run again in 2024. Chances are good that by then, he will be indicted and convicted for at least one felony, whether for tax evasion, campaign finance violations, solicitation of election fraud or other crimes. He would have trouble running for president from a correctional institution. Likewise if he decides to flee to a country that has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

The real significance of the Senate’s refusal to convict Trump is that it normalizes behavior that once would have been anathema to either political party. It assures his followers that he did nothing wrong. It eats away at the foundation of our form of government. It invites a future Republican president — shrewder and more disciplined than Trump — to install himself permanently in the White House.

It may sound impossible in a republic as long-lasting and resilient as ours. But since Jan. 6, a lot of things that seemed impossible have come to pass. And they have inflicted a wound on our democracy that may never heal.

Donald Trump should face the full force of the law for his multiple crimes. He may be convicted for interfering with the election in Georgia, for tax evasion in New York, or for many other crimes. But he escaped punishment for violating his oath of office and unleashing a blood-thirsty mob on his Vice-President and the members of Congress, a crime that sits at the feet of the 43 senators too spineless to hold him accountable.

Bob Shepherd recognizes that Trump has left behind many memories, many additions to our dictionary, many new linguistic expressions.

In this post, he remembers what Trump has added to our common vocabulary.

Starting with covfefe.

I was glued to the television yesterday, watching the impeachment trial in the Senate.

It’s supposed to be a done deal: the Republicans are so frightened by Trump and his base that only a handful will vote to convict. It seems he will not be held accountable for inciting a violent mob to invade the U.S. Capitol.

The impeachment managers methodically described how Trump had prepared his base long before the election to believe that it would be rigged, unless he won. After the election, he said louder and louder that the election had been stolen, that it was rigged, that he had won in a landslide. He whipped his followers up to a frenzy of rage. After he lost the Electoral College, he stepped up his efforts to reverse the results, putting pressure on state legislators.

Finally, he bullied Vice President Mike Pence, trying to compel him to refuse to certify the votes on January 6. But Pence knew the Constitution did not give him that power, and he refused to do what Trump wanted.

Trump had one last ploy. He called his base to come to D.C. to “stop the steal.” He held a rally and urged his followers to March to the Capitol and “fight like Hell” to stop the Electoral count.

We all know what happened next. An enraged mob overran the Capitol Police, and went hunting for their enemies, especially Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi. They set up a scaffold with a noose to hang Pence. They chanted “hang Mike Pence,” and “get Nancy,” “where’s Nancy.” They ransacked her office while her staff hid.

What we saw was how close the mob came to meeting their goals. The mob breached the building and surged in while both Houses of Congress were in session. The speakers showed with graphic detail how close the mob came to breaking into the Congress and confronting their targets. At one point, the mob was very close to Pence and his family. At one point, Senator Romney was walking towards the incoming mob, but was turned away by an alert Capitol Policeman, Eugene Goodman. Officer Goodman then led the mob away from the Senate while it was still in session.

Our democracy hung in the balance. The mob came within minutes of breaking into both chambers. They could have assassinated Pence, Pelosi, and others. Some had baseball bats, some had stun guns, some were equipped with flex cuffs, ready to take hostages. The mob brutally attacked Capitol Police officers, beating them with bats, clubs, even the poles attached to American flags. The terrorists were in a hot fury.

For many members of Congress, this might have been the first time they saw a complete video of what was happening while they were in seclusion.

It is astonishing that any Senator watched the proceedings and concluded that Trump was not responsible and that the events of the day were no big deal.

January 6 was one of the worst days in our history. It will live in infamy.

Andrew Tobias blogs occasionally, usually around 1 a.m., and he usually has interesting perspectives on politics, culture, and economics. This is a good one:

The Madness Of Crowds

More than a third of Republicans believe the QAnon conspiracy that Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a shadowy cabal of paedophile cannibals is “mostly true” . . .

So, for the record:

>  No Democrat I know has eaten children or worshipped Satan.

>  Though some Republicans deny it, the Parkland massacre — like the Holocaust — was real.

>  The 9/11 attackers really did crash American flight 77 into the Pentagon.

>  The Clintons did not murder John Kennedy, Jr.

>  I’ve met George Soros.  He’s done more to champion freedom and democracy around the world than anyone I can think of.  The idea that he used space lasers to light California’s forest fires is insane.

As is the idea that someone who believes these things would have been endorsed by the leader of the Republican party; would have been elected; and would be appointed by her Republican colleagues to the Education Committee.

The difference between our fringe and theirs is that our “fringe” fights (peacefully) to give the average American a better deal:  Higher wages.  Consumer protections.  Health care.  A habitable planet for their kids.  Crazy s–t like that.

Their fringe beats Capitol Police with American flags, wears Camp Auschwitz t-shirts, and seeks to murder the House Speaker and Vice President.

To which their leader, watching gleefully on TV, eventually responds: “Go home.  I love you.  You are very special people.

Their fringe are evangelicals — especially the one African American in the crowd the camera dutifully zooms in on — who just laugh at the notion Joe Biden could have won.  (WATCH!)

Because who who better embodies Christ’s teachings than Trump?

The first crowd madness we are living through is the madness of those who’ve been conned into believing Trump and Putin are the ones to be trusted — the good guys in this tale — while the 84 million who voted for Biden are somehow in league with the devil.

[BONUS: Tips on deprogramming a QAnon cultist.]

Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu interviewed people who were in the “room where it happened,” the meeting where Trump’s lawyers duked it out with conspiracy theorists in the White House on December 18. Their account of the meeting is gripping.

Four conspiracy theorists marched into the Oval Office. It was early evening on Friday, Dec. 18 — more than a month after the election had been declared for Joe Biden, and four days after the Electoral College met in every state to make it official.

“How the hell did Sidney get in the building?” White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann grumbled from the outer Oval Office as Sidney Powell and her entourage strutted by to visit the president. 

President Trump’s private schedule hadn’t included appointments for Powell or the others: former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, and a little-known former Trump administration official, Emily Newman. But they’d come to convince Trump that he had the power to take extreme measures to keep fighting. 

As Powell and the others entered the Oval Office that evening, Herschmann — a wealthy business executive and former partner at Kasowitz Benson & Torres who’d been pulled out of quasi-retirement to advise Trump — quietly slipped in behind them.

The hours to come would pit the insurgent conspiracists against a handful of White House lawyers and advisers determined to keep the president from giving in to temptation to invoke emergency national security powers, seize voting machines and disable the primary levers of American democracy.

The Axios’ story is a dramatic account of a turning point that led to the Insurrection on January 6 and the second impeachment of Trump for inciting sedition.

The New York Times published a dramatic account of the 77 days in which Trump and his faithful allies planned and plotted to overturn the election he lost. I hope you can open the article. It’s Kong and well-worth the time to read. Trump has a faithful base of people who will believe anything he says, no matter how far-fetched, no evidence necessary. One thing they all have in common: they are ignorant about our Constitution and the norms of our democracy.

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