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“If the RNC has substantive disagreements with the Biden administration’s moves, it should air them and try to convince the administration to do better. That’s what a loyal opposition is supposed to do. But instead, the RNC conducts itself as a propaganda outlet, like a domestic version of RT or Sputnik, whose allegiance isn’t to America, but to the narrow interests of Republican meme wars. They’re calling the president “weak” and a “liar” while he’s trying to avoid World War III. Whose interest does that serve?
I suppose there’s a place for this sort of thing. But our political parties aren’t supposed to be that place. The political parties are supposed to put country over party.
Some grownup should counsel these kids at the RNC to quit their jobs. Nihilism corrupts the soul. No job is worth that.”

— Jonathan V. Last

 

How about a daily shot?

 

 

 

 

Feb. 19, 2023

Reflect on this:

Opinion Columnist

[Excerpt:]

Amid the constant drumbeat of sensational news stories — the scandals, the legal rulings, the wild political gambits — it’s sometimes easy to overlook the deeper trends that are shaping American life. For example, are you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?

Late last month, I listened to a fascinating NPR interview with the journalists Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman regarding their new book, “Find Me the Votes,” about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They report that Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis had trouble finding lawyers willing to help prosecute her case against Trump. Even a former Georgia governor turned her down, saying, “Hypothetically speaking, do you want to have a bodyguard follow you around for the rest of your life?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/18/opinion/magas-violent-threats-are-warping-life-in-america.html

 

 

Feb. 16, 2023

Showman Trump enjoys to presenting himself as Little Caesar, crossing the Potomac and, blasphemously, our resurrected Savior, while practicing a mafioso version of Trump real politique, Putin and Mussolini-style.

From the sidelines, boss Trump intimidates GOP members of the legislative branch, signals desired judicial outcomes to his appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court, and sends errand boy Carlson to Moscow to fawn over Trump’s role model, murderous kleptocrat Putin.

The stage thus set, there remain, fortunately, and by no Constitutional accident, three formidable bulwarks to preserving our beloved and sacred Republic:

First, the integrity of the judiciary, to be tested in coming weeks, court by court.

Second, ever-courageous members of the free press, like you, to call it what it is.

And, finally, We the People, who most assuredly will do our duty, voting together as citizens to defeat Trump and Congressional enablers at the polls.

 

January 19, 2024

 

The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025

Link of the Week:

How an authoritarian president will dismantle our democracy and what we can do to protect it

JANUARY 2024

A REPORT BY UNITED TO PROTECT DEMOCRACY

https://www.authoritarianplaybook2025.org/

 

Jan. 13, 2023

Link of the Week:

– our excerpts, for emphasis –

‘This to Him Is the Grand Finale’: Donald Trump’s 50-Year Mission to Discredit the Justice System

The former president is in unparalleled legal peril, but he has mastered the ability to grind down the legal system to his advantage. It’s already changing our democracy.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/01/12/donald-trump-indictments-legal-system-00135151

[Excerpt:]

Trump and his allies say he is the victim of the weaponization of the justice system, but the reality is exactly the opposite. For literally more than 50 years, according to thousands of pages of court records and hundreds of interviews with lawyers and legal experts, people who have worked for Trump, against Trump or both, and many of the myriad litigants who’ve been caught in the crossfire, Trump has taught himself how to use and abuse the legal system for his own advantage and aims. Many might view the legal system as a place to try to avoid, or as perhaps a necessary evil, or maybe even as a noble arbiter of equality and fairness. Not Trump. He spent most of his adult life molding it into an arena in which he could stake claims and hunt leverage. It has not been for him a place of last resort so much as a place of constant quarrel. Conflict in courts is not for him the cost of doing business — it is how he does business. Throughout his vast record of (mostly civil) lawsuits, whether on offense, defense or frequently a mix of the two, Trump has become a sort of layman’s master in the law and lawfare.

Starting in 1973, when the federal government sued him and his father for racist rental practices in the apartments they owned, Trump learned from the notorious Roy Cohn, then searched for another Roy Cohn — then finally became his own Roy Cohn. He’s exploited as loopholes the legal system’s bedrock tenets, eyeing its very integrity as simultaneously its intrinsic vulnerability — the near sacrosanct honoring of the rights of the defendant, the deliberation that due process demands, the constant constitutional balancing act that relies on shared good faith as much as fixed, written rules. He has routinely turned what’s obviously peril into what’s effectively fuel, taking long rosters of losses and willing them into something like wins — if not in a court of law, then in that of public opinion. It has worked, and it continues to work. Trump, after all, was at one of his weakest points politically until the first of his four arraignments last spring. Ever since, his legal jeopardy and his political viability have done little but go up, together. Deny, delay and attack, always play the victim, never stop undermining the system: Trump has taken the Cohn playbook to reaches not even Cohn could have foreseen — fusing his legal efforts with his business interests, lawyers as important to him as loan officers, and now he’s done the same with politics. He’s not fighting the system, it seems sometimes, so much as he’s using it. He’s fundraising off of it. He’s consolidating support because of it. He’s far and away the most likely Republican nominee, polls consistently show. He’s the odds-on favorite to be the president again.

“He has attacked the judicial system, our system of justice and the rule of law his entire life,” said J. Michael Luttig, a conservative former federal appellate judge and one of the founders of the recently formed Society for the Rule of Law. “And this to him,” Luttig told me, “is the grand finale.”

 

January 1, 2024

Link of the week – our excerpts, for emphasis – Vote!

What Trump will campaign on in 2024

[Excerpts:]

Immigration

At each of his rallies, Trump hammers Biden on the issue and paints a dystopian picture of migrants flooding the country and changing its makeup.

“All over the world, they’re coming into our country. From Africa, from Asia, all over the world,” Trump said at a recent New Hampshire rally, where he controversially claimed immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” a remark that drew comparisons to Nazi Germany.

Inflation

Inflation has come down significantly from its peak in 2022. Data released Dec. 12 showed the annual inflation rate had fallen from 9.1 percent in June 2022 to 3.1 percent as of November.

Energy

 “Drill, baby, drill.”

America First foreign policy

Former Trump aides have warned he would try to pull the United States out of the NATO alliance if he’s reelected, a move that would shake the global order and could spur more aggression from Russia.

And Trump has repeatedly shown an affection for authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Viktor Orbán of Hungary . . . .

 

December 5, 2023

CNN this week solicted readers’ suggestions for “Word of the Year.”

Here’s mine, prominently featured (in adverbial form) in a parody of House Speaker Mike John in Substack’s “Roger Stone Walks into a Bar”:

My WOTY bloomed in slippery pools of political double-talk, simultaneously sanctimonious and divisive, I was striving to discern what marks the instigators of a riotous crowd that would attack the most vulnerable people and the most sublime ideas – a democratic republic, respectful political discourse, fellowship, love and hope.

unctuous

/ŭngk′choo͞-əs/

adjective

Excessively ingratiating or insincerely earnest.

“was annoyed by the unctuous waiter.”

Containing or composed of oil or fat.

Having the quality or characteristics of oil or ointment; slippery.

*****

https://defendyourvotingrights.substack.com/p/roger-stone-talks-straight-with-unctuous

 

December 4, 2023

Seeking good news as the news is replete with the threats of what a second term for Trump means?

Here’s a report of an interim ruling by a North Carolina court that its legislature’s efforts to impose vote-supressing measures shall not pass:

“In win for Cooper and Democrats, NC judges block GOP-backed elections law ahead of 2024”

WRAL:

A panel of judges on Thursday granted Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to block a new elections law before voters head to the polls in 2024.

The ruling from the three judges — two Republicans and one Democrat — was unanimous. They ruled that the law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last month, is likely an unconstitutional power grab. It’s just a temporary ruling pending a full trial, likely to be held in early 2024….

In addition to changing who has the power to appoint election board members, the law would also make the board have an even number of seats for both parties, instead of giving a majority to whichever party holds the governor’s office.

Republicans have said that’s needed to improve election integrity. But critics, who include Democrats as well as professional election workers and experts, say it would lead to chaos in elections administration — and possibly even spell the end of early voting and other political issues that would presumably result in tie votes and inaction….

On Cooper’s challenge to SB 749, Republican lawmakers have acknowledged that the previous law it’s based on was ruled unconstitutional.

A similar change to the elections board was also later shot down by voters when proposed as a constitutional amendment in 2018, after every living governor — Democratic and Republican — publicly campaigned against it, as well as another similar amendment proposal, as overreaching power grabs.

A lawyer for the state government agreed with Cooper in court Thursday. Senior Deputy Attorney General Amar Majmundar said blocking it from taking effect would be “not just appropriate, but necessary.”

But legislative leaders have said that since the GOP flipped control of the North Carolina Supreme Court in last year’s elections, they believe they have a better chance of winning in court this time and getting the past precedent overturned.

Here’s a sampling of news coverage of what a second Trump term portends:

HOW TRUMP GETS AWAY WITH IT

If reelected, he could use the powers of the presidency to evade justice and punish his enemies.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2024/01/trump-reelection-fbi-investigations-indictments/676123/?utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share

 

Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/04/us/politics/trump-2025-overview.html?unlocked_article_code=1.Dk0.Hxck.0QQiZDMNoSgh&smid=url-share

 

George Conway, J. Michael Luttig and 

The writers are lawyers. Mr. Conway was in private practice. Mr. Luttig was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 2006. Ms. Comstock represented Virginia’s 10th District in Congress from 2015 to 2019. They serve on the board of the newly formed Society for the Rule of Law Institute.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/21/opinion/trump-lawyers-constitution-democracy

Trump signals he’s out for revenge in second term

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4311194-trump-signals-revenge-in-second-term/

 

“Why the fight to counter false election claims may be harder in 2024”

NPR:

 

The Key to Mike Johnson’s Christian Extremism Hangs Outside His Office

The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state

“A lot of Americans embrace Trump’s authoritarianism”

Philip Bump:

CNN’s most recent polling, conducted by SSRS, shows that Trump leads Biden nationally by a 4-point margin, statistically even. Even given Trump’s response to the 2020 election, though, and the myriad criminal charges he faces, respondents were five points more likely to say they would be proud to have him as president then said the same of Biden.

CNN’s poll also asked people to measure Biden and Trump on personal characteristics. Most respondents said that they thought Biden had respect for the rule of law; only about a third said the same of Trump.

But remember: 49 percent of respondents prefer Trump over Biden. Meaning that at least 14 percent of respondents both think that Trump doesn’t respect the rule of law and want him to be president.

 

November 30, 2023

Highly recommended is Damon Linker’s November 28th Substack post (Notes from the Underground) on “How Argentina’s radically libertarian president-elect fits in with our right-populist moment,” to which I posted this comment:

Thanks for parsing through, and sourcing, the vagaries and underlying motivations of the forever baffling populist movements.

Spotting anger as the driver of populist recruitment is key, as is revealing the ever-present human impulse of its most ardent proponents to abandon society for the fantasy of personal freedom to have one’s way in all things.

What makes our republic truly unique is our dedication to the liberties of all citizens and our framework of democratic republican principles aimed at an ever-more perfect union – acknowledging our shortcomings while forging ahead together through reasoned, non-violent political discourse, toward a future that encourages the flourishing of republic and citizens alike.

Trump’s populism is a disease borne of manufactured anger, serving aggrandized personal ends, free of essential discussion, as evidenced by his withdrawal from political primaries, debates and meaningful interviews.

Want jobs, healthcare, personal liberty for yourself and your fellow citizens – pull an oar – we’re all in the same boat. Vote in free and fair elections, no vote-suppressing measures, no intimidation of election officials, no death threats.

Love of our republic is the answer. It responds, however fitfully, from deep and mystical chords of memory, to human aspiration, not violent, unreasoned anger.

Make those World War veterans proud.

*****

Postscript: Vote!

 

November 9, 2023

One favorite “Get out the Vote” organization promotes another:

From https://www.31ststreet.org/

Support TurnUp!

https://www.turnup.us/

An Amazing Youth-Created 501(c)(3) Organization to Support Voter Registration and Turnout in High Schools and Community Colleges in VA and PA in 2023.

November 5, 2023

“But now “Project 2025” is saying the quiet part out loud: Right-wing groups do not want to ensure all Americans have religious freedom, but want to impose conservative Christian views on our religiously-diverse country.”

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/project-2025-heritage-foundation-christian-nationalism-rcna103510

*****

Here’s a challenge to folks whom Heritage Foundation/Action has honored for work on behalf of our democratic republic:

Disavow Heritage, publicly, on account of its many anti-democratic attempts since 2015 to undermine free and fair elections and true republican governance.

These include the 2025 Initiative noted above, as well as Heritage’s three principal voter suppression efforts:

(1) its facetious Voter Fraud Database (purporting to support Trump’s Big Lie of Voter Fraud),

(2) it’s so-called Fact Sheet (which served as a blueprint  for new Red State voter suppression laws – styled as “Election Integrity” initiatives – and

(3) its support for lawyer Cleta Mitchell’s current-dark money efforts aimed at wrongly disenfranchising eligible voters (by persuade swing and other states to abandon the bipartisan ERIC system for authenticating classes of eligible voters in favor of a patently unreliable system prejudicial to eligible voters).

All disdainful to the bone of our democratic republic, our Constitution, the rule of law, and the unfettered right to vote and be counted. That, friends, is a disgraceful heritage.

Be a true patriot. Reject having any part of it. 

 

October 30, 2023

Links of the Week:

First, this New York Times account of how new House Speaker Mike Johnson fabricated a third argument to try to save Trump’s failed argument of a stolen 2020 presidential election:

The “most important architect” of Trump’s Bogus Electoral College Objections Poised to Be Next Speaker of the House, and Republicans Don’t Want to Talk About It

From this Oct. 2022 NYT article, “They Legitimized the Risk of a Stolen Election–and Reaped the Rewards:”

The most far-reaching of Mr. Trump’s ploys to overturn his defeat, the objections to the Electoral College results by so many House Republicans did more than any lawsuit, speech or rally to engrave in party orthodoxy the myth of a stolen election. Their actions that day legitimized Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, gave new life to his claims of conspiracy and fraud and lent institutional weight to doubts about the central ritual of American democracy.

Yet the riot engulfing the Capitol so overshadowed the debate inside that the scrutiny of that day has overlooked how Congress reached that historic vote. A reconstruction by The Times revealed more than simple rubber-stamp loyalty to a larger-than-life leader. Instead, the orchestration of the House objections was a story of shrewd salesmanship and calculated double-talk, set against a backdrop of demographic change across the country that has widened the gulf between the parties.

While most House Republicans had amplified Mr. Trump’s claims about the election in the aftermath of his loss, only the right flank of the caucus continued to loudly echo Mr. Trump’s fraud allegations in the days before Jan. 6, The Times found. More Republican lawmakers appeared to seek a way to placate Mr. Trump and his supporters without formally endorsing his extraordinary allegations. In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.

On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case.

Even lawmakers who had been among the noisiest “stop the steal” firebrands took refuge in Mr. Johnson’s narrow and lawyerly claims, though his nuanced argument was lost on the mob storming the Capitol, and over time it was the vision of the rioters — that a Democratic conspiracy had defrauded America — that prevailed in many Republican circles.

That has made objecting politically profitable. Republican partisans have rewarded objectors with grass-roots support, paths to higher office and campaign money. Corporate backers have reopened their coffers to lawmakers they once denounced as threats to democracy. And almost all the objectors seeking re-election are now poised to return to Congress next year, when Republicans are expected to hold a majority in the House.

See also this Dec. 15, 2020 Isaac Chotiner Q and A with Johnson in the New Yorker.

When Johnson, on the cusp of a vote for House Speaker, was asked about it by a reporter, the response from other Members was “boo” and “shut up.” Watch:

 

Second, this Politico account of Rep. Mike Johnson (LA)’s role (evangelical or legal?) in inventing that false argument in support of Trump’s Big Lie of Election Fraud:

“‘I’ve prayed for each of you’: How Mike Johnson led a campaign of election denial”

Politico deep dive:

One day before a mob bludgeoned its way into the Capitol, Rep. Mike Johnson huddled with colleagues in a closed-door meeting about Congress’ task on Jan. 6, 2021.

A relatively junior House Republican at the time, Johnson was nevertheless the leading voice in support of a fateful position: that the GOP should rally around Donald Trump and object to counting electoral votes submitted by at least a handful of states won by Joe Biden.

“This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,” Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results.

A review of the chaotic weeks between Trump’s defeat at the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack shows that Johnson led the way in shaping legal arguments that became gospel among GOP lawmakers who sought to derail Biden’s path to the White House — even after all but the most extreme options had elapsed.

As Trump’s legal challenges faltered, Johnson consistently spread a singular message: It’s not over yet. And when Texas filed a last-ditch lawsuit against four states on Dec. 8, 2020, seeking to invalidate their presidential election results and throw out millions of ballots, Johnson quickly revealed he would be helming an effort to support it with a brief signed by members of Congress.

Throughout that period, Johnson was routinely in touch with Trump, even more so than many of his more recognizable colleagues.

Some of Johnson’s vocal opponents at the Jan. 5, 2021, closed-door meeting were Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who warned Johnson’s plan would lead to a constitutional and political catastrophe.

“Let us not turn the last firewall for liberty we have remaining on its head in a bit of populist rage for political expediency,” Roy said at the time, according to the record.

Nearly three years later, on Wednesday afternoon, Roy and Bacon cast two of the unanimous House GOP votes to make Johnson the next speaker….

[Boldface added]

 

October 25, 2023

 

WHAT A WEEK!

#1 The Fulton County Scorecard:

  • Trump enablers (Sidney Powell, John Chesebro, Jenna Ellis) v. Donald Trump & enablers (Rudy Guiliani, John Eastman et al.)
  • And Mark Meadows may soon be joining Powell, Chesebro and Eliis, having reportedly testified before a federal grand jury impaneled by Special Counsel Jack Smith in exchange for immunity from prosecution in the Justice Department’s election interference case against Donald Trump.

#2 Rep. Jim Jordan (co-founder of  the”Insurrectionists’ Clubhouse” a.k.a. House Freedom Caucus) out as House speaker candidate.

#3 And this must-read New Yorker article:

Jim Jordan’s Conspiratorial Quest for Power

How the Ohio Republican built an insurgent bid for Speaker on the lies of Donald Trump.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/10/30/jim-jordans-conspiratorial-quest-for-power

 

October 21, 2023

Following this week’s plea agreements  with two Trump Georgia conspirators (Big Lie litigator Sidney Powell and fale elector attorney John Chesebro),  the Fulton County, Georgia prosecutors should revisit the Georgia grand jury panel’s earlier recommendation to prosecute election denier attorney Cleta Mitchell.

Mitchell is now spearheading the unprecedented, billionaire-backed GOP/RNC efforts to disenfranchise eligible 2023 and 2024 voters. How? By purging voter rolls by wrongly asserting eligible voters who appear to have two residences are registered to vote in the wrong precinct or state.

Cleta Mitchell’s new weapon?  Persuading Red swing and other states (eight and counting) not use the authenticated, bipartisan ERIC system, and instead use an unproved and so-called A.I. system developed by a medical doctor and previously reported to be biased, unreliable and spring from Trump’s Big Lie of voter fraud.

Targeted voters include college student-age voters and others in swing states who have changed residence. Like lawyer Sidney Powell, lawyer Mitchell was instrumental in Trump’s call asking Brad Raffensperger to “find votes” to overturn Georgia’s popular vote. Her new voting supressing efforts undermine the integrity of an effective bipartisan tool with a method having but one end – to deny eligible voters the right to vote and be counted.

Until Mitchell faces justice, the Big Lie metastasizes through her shameful and extremely extremely well-paid “professional” services to disenfranchise voters opposing the ever-growing chaos engendered by Trump and enablers. 

 

October 12, 2022

Traditionally, op-ed was the sanctioned space for a traditional newspaper to state its views.

Rupert Murdoch, in all forms of news media, trashed that line of journalistic demarcation between reporting facts and persuading. Clinging to tradition is ever more important, given that journals still have the opportunity to call out what ultimately can and will counter Trump & enablers’ persistent efforts to undermine the republic – the daily, quiet, sleeves-up, eyes-and-minds-focused efforts of the Biden administration (1) to improve our shared domestic and civic life and (2) to support unwaveringly allies encountering the same destructive waves of autocratic disdain and violent acts.

What U.S. journalism can do every single day – constantly cast a critical eye to (1) Jim Jordan’s role as an essential co-enabler of Trump’s assault on the republic and (2) the efforts of all such enablers to protect themselves against prosecution and conviction for sedition and treason by ostensibly continuing to protect Trump from the same.

Israel has its Hamas, our republic its Trump & enablers.

This is the central story of our times.

 

October 11, 2023

In the midst of the Hamas assault on Israel and its citizens, talk about domestic politics may at first appear irreverent.

However, the current focus on Rep. Mace (SC) is wholly apropos, as Hamas is an apt analogy for Election Deniers’ 2021 surprise assault on the U.S Capitol  and House Freedom Caucus frentic efforts to hold the House hostage, of which lost causes Rep. Mace has been an ardent supporter.

Like Hamas, raucous Freedom Caucus members – including co-founders  Jim Jordan, a likely future House leader- and Scott Perry – c0-enabled the Jan 6, 2021 assault and ensuing fake elector effort.

Rep. Mace has:

  • labored furiously to disenfranchise minority and other U.S. voters;
  • backed reckless “Stop the Steal” Rep. Jordan for the top House leadership position.;
  • Rabid embraced critical race theory as a means to oust the teaching of U.S. American history;
  • representeda the South Carolina Congressional district at the very center of gerrymandering efforts to “bleach out” Black votes;
  • Worn in protest a white T shirt (with a Scarlett A), conjuring up images of that earlier, violent insurrection, the Old South’s “Lost Cause,” progenitor of  today’svoter suppression efforts.

Our lesson?

Violence to nation, whether the source of such assault is domestic or external, must have severe consequences.

 

September 20, 2023

 

In her remarkable Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson today reports the good works of Vice President Kamala Harris in supporting Voter Registration Day and renewed efforts of Democratic legislators to enact voting rights legislation to repair the extensive damage done by both Trump’s GOP and the U.S. Supreme Court to the sacred right to vote and be counted ,

In stark contrast, Trump’s GOP (and enablers like Heritage Foundation/Heritage Action and RNC “election integrity” committees) work ceaselessly to suppress the voting right of college students. 

Most notably, “Fringe of the Fringe” election denier Cleta Mitchell has this year raised millions to enable 17+ states to deploy a so-called “AI” program (developed by a conservative doctor for God’s sake) to remove qualified voters from the rolls. It targets those legitimately having more than one mailing address, including especially college students, who rightfully vote in their university towns and cities but are also rightfully on record as members of “out-of-state” family households. 

Cleta Mitchell narrowly escaped being indicted in Georgia, along side indicted co-conspirators Trump, Meadows and her fellow anti-voting rights lawyer Sydney Powell.

Support voter registration and voting rights organizations like the life of our Republic depends on it,

Because it does.

 

Here are two for your consideration:

 

Voters of Tomorrow

https://votersoftomorrow.org/about-us/

Voters of Tomorrow is a Gen Z-led 501(c)(4) organization that engages and represents young Americans in politics and government. With chapters in 20 states and a volunteer presence in all 50, we take a locally based, multifaceted approach to engaging young voters. Our team is led by a national staff of young political strategists, organizers, and policy experts.

Our work doesn’t end on Election Day. Elected officials must hear from Gen Zers year-round. Last year, our team held a roundtable discussion with the House Rules Committee and meetings with over 100 Congressional offices plus The White House to talk about our policy priorities. Now, we’re building on these relationships by collaborating with lawmakers on legislation covering a range of topics.

 

turn UP

We are devoted to increasing youth voter registration and turnout, and build the most active, educated, organized, and powerful network of young progressive activists across the Nation.

We’re now the largest and fastest-growing coalition of youth turnout advocates united by a shared commitment to increase youth voter registration and turnout at the polls by fully investing in our young people, removing systemic barriers to civic participation, and amplifying our formidable voice. See our voting tools at https://www.turnup.us/vote

We are hiring students in key states to run voter registration drives at their high schools and to relationally contact each newly eligible student at their high school or college reminding them to register to vote. We are also utilizing our internship program and online tools to register voters.

 

September 15, 2023

 

Damon Linker’s recent post in Notes from the Middle Ground prompted this Enabled response:

A thoughtful description of how a gangster like Trump occasionally gains mass appeal.

Right up until Texas Rangers gunned down Bonnie & Clyde, their daredevil antics offered a diversion from economic depression and the hero-free world of everyday folks. In reality, for B&C as well as Trump & Co., they were breaking rules fundamental to society, not merely pious norms.

Others did the heavy lifting of electrification of the Lone Star State (Roosevelt & LBJ) and, later, making a Texas university one of the best venues for classical studies and reflection on what makes for real leaders – classical virtues of courage, wisdom, temperance and a genuine interest in justice.

Today, little Teddy Cruz delights in the prospect of pardoning gangster Trump, TX Gov. Abbott in battering vulnerable women, teachers & kids, and an historic majority of Lone State voters so blinded by the kind of prejudice that enables truly unworthy men. 

Ann Richards, where art thou?

 

September 2, 2023

 

How to cheer up Trump? Say “Let’s go sniff out some traitors!”

From:

Axios AM

September 1, 2023

Trump’s circle of flattery

Each day, former President Trump’s staff presents him with printouts of fan mail, supportive op-eds, favorable tweets and encouraging polls.

  • Trump, black Sharpie in hand, often scrawls responses on them — then has aides text a photo of the comments back to the writer. The Trump-signed hard copies are then sent by U.S. mail, Axios’ Sophia Cai reports.

Why it matters: The big stack is an ego-soothing exercise for Trump that often winds up creating viral threads, as recipients of Trump’s comments — some of whom have big digital followings — post them on social media.

  • The result: a constant chain of support, commiseration and shared grievance
One ally whose messages typically reach Trump is Laura Loomer, a far-right activist who narrowly lost a bid for the U.S. House last year in the district that includes Mar-a-Lago.

  • Loomer recently wrote she would “sniff out” Trump traitors.
  • “Sounds good to me,” Trump scrawled next to “traitors.”

 

August 28, 2023

 

Two links to ponder and a recap of how tribalism led to Trump’s high stakes day in court:

“Trump’s High Stakes Day in Court” 

https://www.wsj.com/politics/why-tribalism-took-over-our-politics-5936f48e?mod=hp_lead_pos7https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2023/08/28/trumps-high-stakes-day-in-court-00113155 

“Why Tribalism Took Over Our Politics”

https://www.wsj.com/politics/why-tribalism-took-over-our-politics-5936f48e

On the power of group identity:

Instead of going into the voting booth and asking, ‘What do I want my elected representatives to do for me,’ they’re thinking, ‘If my party loses, it’s not just that my policy preferences aren’t going to get done,’ ” said Lilliana Mason, a Johns Hopkins University political scientist. “It’s who I think I am, my place in the world, my religion, my race, the many parts of my identity are all wrapped up in that one vote.”…

How we got here:

Tribalism – how else to understand why 40+% of our fellow citizens still cling to the Big Lie of election fraud?

Looking to brain science, a friend boils down the fear of losing one’s place in the world to a fear of others so powerful that it  completely short circuits reason. Tribalism, then, is a home remedy of sorts. To face down that fear, one adopts a shared identity rooted in a collective anger vocally directed against those fear-and-anger-engendering “others”. But to govern self and society,  one must turn to facts and reasoning.

As a preliminary step, let’s consider those who stoked this unfounded fear and why:

To hang onto power despite losing the 2020 election, Trump & enablers launched the Big Lie of election fraud as a weapon to galvanize support for Trump’s lost cause. Through that false claim, Trump & enablers persuaded followers to “win back” America by “fighting”.  Only “we” can protect “you” against “them”.  “Those” people stole “our” victory.  That’s how propaganda works. As we see every day in the culture wars, propaganda induces fear and anger, not reason, deliberation and consensus. What has the  Big Lie of election fraud achieved? It has undermined public trust, created unwarranted animosity, and threatens our shared 250-year+ experiment in democratic republic government.

The roots of the Big Lie of election fraud predate 2020.  For example, Trump enabler & former chief of staff Reince Priebus trialed the Big Lie way back in the election of 2012.  Trump himself falsely pointed to fraud in explaining the outcome of the 2012 election.,

By 2015, was there a bigger enabler of Trump’s Big Lie than the Heritage Foundation (and its baby PAC, Heritage Action)? Heritage perfected the art of creating something out of nothing, of forging a new “conservative” identity in the language of election fraud. In its formulation of the Big Lie, the deceitful “others” are all Democrats.

Heritage first dressed up false claims of election fraud in the form of a Heritage “database”, then a Heritage “fact sheet” (supporting Red state voter suppression laws) and, more recently, a Heritage campaign to deny college students the right to vote in their university towns. Heritage’s goal? It simply doesn’t want all citizens to vote. Never has.  That’s decidely not a principle, rule or behavior of a true republic, only something harkening to the days of Jim Crow.

Even before Biden’s 2020 inauguration, the Republican National Committee fully embraced Heritage’s “database” and “fact sheet”, establishing “Election Integrity” committees at the national and state level. Their shared purpose?  To implement Heritage’s “fact sheet” recommendations for adoption of voter suppression laws, cleverly styled as “election integrity” measures. While these new laws, like Heritage’s “Factsheet”, claim to attack all the purported evils to which Trump’s Big Lie points, their actual objective?  To negate the votes of those who dare to oppose Trump-style authoritarianism.

Joining the RNC and Heritage in these efforts are well-funded and thinly-veiled voter suppression organizations led by Trump enablers and lawyers Cleta Mitchell and Sydney Powell. Recall that Powell was the force behind the 60+ “Big Lie” lawsuits that spectacularly failed to convince any judge of 2020 election fraud.

Powell also enthusiastically joined Rudy Guiliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in that strategic Trump call to the Georgia secretary of State (asking him to find just enough votes to change the certified election outcome). Powell now says no one in their right mind should have reasonably believed her. Powell’s sneaky qualification of reasonably is noteworthy – the Big Lie is designed to appeal only to the emotions (of fear and anxiety) which so effectively short-circuit reasoning and deliberation.

Enter Pillow Guy Mike Liddell, an ex-addict disposed seeking a new group identity, which he found as a would-be patriot, Trump ally and savior of a “stolen election”.  Liddell devoted millions of dollars to support efforts to spread the Big Lie, to instigate fake state “audits” of the popular vote, and to enable others, reportedly guided by Powell, to steal or gain access (or both) to state voting machines  falsely alleged to have produced false voting tallies.

And who wildly amplified Trump’s Big Lie of election fraud? Enter Trump Big Media enabler Rupert Murdoch.  Fortunately for supporters of our democratic Republic, Fox News can now advise Liddell that promoting false claims of election comes at a very steep price (now approaching a trillion dollars), as Fox News settles with the voting machine companies and others that it defamed.

And like Steven Bannon, former Fox News pundit/Trump enabler Tucker Carlson is now reduced to podcasting.  Like financially ruined Alex Jones and alt-right groomer NewsMax, each served up a tribal identity rooted in the Big Lie and are paying the price.

So what was the goal of Trump’s patently false claims of 2020 election fraud?

It  paved the way to contest the 2020 election :

(1) via fake state electors who would vitiate the popular vote (through machinations of John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Rudy Guiliani, Donald Trump Jr and numerous state GOP chairs and committee members);

(2) by endeavoring to delay the 2020 electoral count  Trump (via Trump enablers Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Scott Perry, Jim Jordan’s Freedom Caucus, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, and, of course, the 1,000+ convicted Capitol insurrectionists), and

(3) via post-election fake state “audits” of the popular vote (guided by Trump, Liddell, Powell, state RNC committee members. and others).

Despite so many participants having:

(a) invoked Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination,

(b) falsely claiming they had acted in an official capacity and were therefore immune from testifying (and now prosecution),

(c) accepted payment of their legal fees (as witnesses or defendants or both), and, in at least one reported case, and

(d) having been subject to intimidation by Trump via a messenger,

Bottom line? Trump and a number of his co-conspirators are now having their high-stakes day in court.

Meantime, the Big Lie is the basis to raising funds to pay legal fees of Trump, enablers-co-defendants, and witnesses.

Donald Trump: Incapable of governing himself, he is unfit to be president.

What price fear and anxiety?

 

August 27, 2023

Link of the Week:

Trump attorneys guided false electors in Georgia, GOP chair says

In Tuesday’s filing, Shafer underscored that the strategy was driven almost entirely by lawyers acting on Trump’s behalf.  The false electors were later used by Trump allies to attempt to foment a conflict on Jan. 6, 2021 and derail the transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Shafer is among the 18 defendants indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, alongside Trump as part of a conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election.

_____

Imagine the reactions to this frank statement – the reactions, for instance, of Arizona fake electors Kelli Ward and Jake Hoffman.  And their fellow fake electors, both in Arizona and all the other 2020 swing states.

  • What just happened in Georgia is headed their way.

Imagine further the reactions of GA enablers-in-chief Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell.

  • Each of these lawyers is bound to uphold the rule of law yet on the way to prosecution, conviction and disbarment.  There is no latitude for lawyers who so spectacularly disregard their sacred oaths.

Imagine, too, the reactions of 1,000-plus convicted Capitol insurrectionists.

  • There’s no love and joy in discovering even the lawyers and GOP’s leadership have been badly misled.

It’s increasing clear that here’s  no successful legal defense of Trump’s Big Lie of Election Fraud.

  • Never has been, never will be.

Trump, of course, does not value true political speech and demeans it, just as he demeans the presidency and the rule of law.

  • For Trump political speech, the presidency and the rule of law are not about responsibly governing our republic, they exist only to avoid responsibility to all others.
  • To serve Trump is to demean oneself. To vote for him is to demean our republic and the rights and security of our fellow citizens.

So, fellow citizens, it’s time for frankness. It’s time to move on.

  • How? Personal acceptance, confession & remorse, followed by public acceptance.
  • These simple but difficult first steps (each requiring courage, temperance and prudence) are fundamental to rebuilding one’s life and resuming our collective lives in this American republic of justice for all.
  • Let us reflect, act and come together, once again.

 

August 26, 2023

Underlying our precious right to vote in free and fair elections is a well-structured republic:

A res publica, comprised of citizens who humbly understand and support three intertwined branches of government, each keeping the other Constitutionally minded; the rule of law (not factions) and a free press, each devoted to fact-finding and holding them (and each of us) Constitutionally accountable; supporting each other’s personal liberty and fair chance in the pursuit of happiness (free of any one group’s professions of religious orthodoxy or racial, ethnic, gender or physical superiority).

A republic so-minded is the purest expression of earthly freedom and best test of human hope, courage and wisdom. It is a measure against which all factions pale. Personal accountability against Constitutional imperatives has been the goal of two impeachments, three indictments, and two elections and counting. Voting is our right, hope and impregnable refuge.

Vote.

 

August 20, 2023

Two books asking you to consider (1) why well-functioning democracies remain unique and (2) why they depend on you:

 

After the End of History: Conversations With Francis Fukuyama

By Mathilde Fasting (Georgetown University Press, 2021)

Reviewed by G. John Ikenberry

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/2021-08-24/after-end-history-conversations-francis-fukuyama

What has surprised Fukuyama most about liberal democracy since the triumphal days after the end of the Cold War is the system’s fragility. He has concluded that scholars were wrong to believe that democracy in advanced industrial societies could consolidate and resist backsliding. In fact, they can fall victim to what he calls “decay”: the slow erosion of liberal institutions by populist and authoritarian leaders who wrap themselves in the legitimacy of democracy but chip away at the rule of law, minority rights, and independent media.

The information revolution was initially greeted as a friend of democracy, but its more ominous implications are now apparent, as China uses it for surveillance and political control and Russia uses it as a tool to destabilize Western institutions.

As more states modernize, will they begin to look more like China?

Fukuyama thinks not. There is nothing inevitable about either the success or the failure of liberal democracy.

But well-functioning democracies remain unique—and unsurpassed—in giving people dignity and opportunities.

[Boldface added}

 

Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy

By Tom Nichols (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Reviewed by G. John Ikenberry

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/our-own-worst-enemy-assault-within-modern-democracy

If liberal democracy is failing, who is to blame?

To illiberal populists, it is the elites who are the villains: globalists, bureaucrats, journalists, intellectuals, politicians.

In this spirited polemic, Nichols argues the reverse: it is ordinary citizens who are failing the test of democracy.

Populists fan the flames of fear and dissatisfaction, but it is the voters who put them in power.

Nichols notes that in the twentieth century, liberal democracies survived multiple global conflicts, defeated fascism and totalitarianism, and weathered multiple depressions and recessions—and yet today, they seem unable to overcome less complex challenges, even within an overall context of relative peace and prosperity.

Large segments of the publics in the United States and European countries have lost faith in democratic institutions, and growing numbers tell pollsters that they do not think it is “essential” to live in a democracy.

Nichols argues that in an era of jaundiced self-absorption, citizens in Western societies have lost their appreciation of democratic values and the virtues of civic engagement. Still, Nichols acknowledges that any renewal of liberal democracy will rely on ordinary people, albeit ones who possess the civic knowledge and virtues needed to make the system work. 

[Boldface added}

 

August 17, 2023

Link of the Week:

The best argument for the Georgia indictment doesn’t involve Trump

The best argument for Ms. Willis’s indictment, in the end, has less to do with Mr. Trump than with these lesser-known leaders. They and others like them might confront a similar choice in 2024 and have now been put on notice that robbing voters of their say comes with consequences. Mr. Raffensperger put it aptly in a statement on Tuesday. “The most basic principles of a strong democracy are accountability and respect for the Constitution and rule of law,” he said. “You either have it, or you don’t.” In the 2020 election and its ugly aftermath, we learned how much those principles depend on the presumption that those who are charged with upholding them can be trusted to act with honor.

 

August, 16, 2023

Kindergarten show-down?

College frat boys badly in need of adult supervision?

Between these two well-documented borders of puerile behavior, Trump &  pal Giuliani clearly embrace the playground’s five-and-under set. Rightfully charged with election interference, their puerile response?

“No, you’re interfering with our 2024 election”.

The very circularity of that assertion is proof enough – of a grifter’s appeal to hapless supporters for help paying mounting legal fees for Trump, his coconspirator #1, enablers and even witnesses.

And it gets worse. These two, each having received very, very bad notes home (yes, from federal and state prosecutors, charged by oath to uphold the rule of law), both childishly promise to send a note of their own: “A  100-page report (the biggest number they can think of?) on the very, very bad voter fraud in Georgia. [Again, the circularity is downright dizzying.]

So, while we, American citizens all, have to witness this rapidly approaching juvenile train wreck, there is the compensating certainty that the days that little Donald and Rudy will darken our venerable Republican experiment are numbered. And, importantly, their place in our political history (and that of their enablers) is sealed.

 

August 15, 2023

Like the federal Jan. 6 indictment, the GA indictment reflects a prosecutorial decision tree aimed at conviction, not a political show trial. Charges limited to very specific state crimes, matched with detailed supporting evidence, defendant by defendant. Might prosecutors in both indictments have gone long, and included even treason? You bet. Are there other individuals who, in a perfect world, warrant indictment? Of course. But these indictments rightly aim to convict the principal ringleaders of a conspiracy to undermine a presidential election of our democratic Republic.  The action of these prosecutors deserve praise, for their wisdom, prudence and temperance – powers of mind and soul wholly deficient in the indicted.

And for others who surely warrant prosecution, there will be history’s unrelenting judgment in all its forms. The Muses of justice – historians, biographers, documentarians; playwrights and film makers; and, yes, poets and musicians (including especially the magic of rappers). Together they will conscribe all enablers of the Big Lie of election fraud to that most horrific of Dante’s concentric circles of hell – the one especially reserved for acts of political treachery.

Care to consider a few?

How about Jim Jordan, ardent election denier, who sucessfully pushed the idea of hiring of treacherous Jeffrey Clark as U.S. Attorney General to former President Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows (only to be met with fierce resistance of the Department of Justice’s senior Republican management).

And feckless, feckless Lindsay Graham, prominent Trump toady, who blatantly intervened on Trump’s behalf in his sister state of Georgia (only to be turned back by the GA Republican Secretary of State in charge of elections).

And sad Donald Trump Jr., who long ago acknowledged his participation in the cabal that brought our Republic the shame of Jan. 6 in its many ghoulish forms – the U.S. Capitol insurrection and its call to “Hang Pence”, the shameless promotion of fake electors from state after state, and the plot to interfere with official federal and state elections, the bedrock principle of our precious Republic and the unfettered right of to vote and be counted.

And, yes, self-proclaimed Leninist & alt-right podcaster little Stevie Bannon, who likewise signaled the entire Big Lie plan well before the 2020 election (and reportedly blackmailed Trump into a presidential pardon).

That infamous list goes on (and on).

Our sincere hope for Enablers of all stripes?

Do your patriotic duty, cast aside your magician-lawyers, come clean, repent, and spare your grandchildren and their children lifetimes of infamy, before it’s too late.

Lee Atwater did, just barely.

 

August 12, 2023

There is considerable angst about our shared political future. Are we stuck, unable to free ourselves from endless talking heads? Paralyzed by the painstakingly slow road to judicial relief from gangster-like Trump & enablers?

Some good news:

Communities large and small are emerging online to rejuvenate a two-party system capable of navigating our many differences, something for-profit media no longer can.  The Bulwark and The Dispatch remind one that the future promises a principled party of conservatives. And most signs point to the recognition that the Democratic party, to be successful, has to lean centrist while enabling its many reformers room to pursue a more perfect Union.

In this moment of existential fear for little “r” republican government, our focus is necessarily on a principled plank-walking for Trump, while, at the same time, demonstrating that the Democratic party supports global leadership, economic security, a revival of environmental stewardship, respectful civil society, and fostering caring communities. 

Let’s talk about it, online and in our neighborhoods.

 

August 5, 2023

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/bill-barr-trump-committed-a-grave-wrongdoing-in-jan-6-case

Barr is a sneaky bastard.

Present throughout this interview is Barr’s congenital proclivity – to weigh in as sage while blatantly trying to justify his AG tenure and GOP efforts to divert public attention from Trump’s patent culpability.  Barr, like the GOP, compares Trump to  Hunter Biden, backs a change of venue for the Jan. 6 trial from DC to FL, and now this – convict Trump for voter fraud but impose no penalty.  That from our former federal law enforcement officer-in-chief.

Convinced he’s the most clever guy in the room, Barr plays loves to play penitent (“if only I had known”) and ardent schemer (“free Trump”).

Bottom line: Barr is pre-selling the idea of a Trump conviction without jail time.  For Barr, incarceration may have been fitting for that guy Napoleon, but my man Trump is no Napoleon. Really?

 

August 4, 2023

As reported by The New York Times (see excerpt below], Donald Trump’s legal fund PAC recently added Rudy Giuliani to TRump’s growing list of potential trial witnesses for whom Trump is paying legal fees.

Until PAC TRump’s six-figure financial bail-out, Giuliani (whom Trump refused a presidential pardon) had been broke, unable to pay hos own lawyers.

Here’ s an imagined note, bro to bro:

Dear Rudy,

Been thinkin’ ’bout ya, bro.
Word on the street – you’re in a very, very bad patch.
A loyal guy like you deserves a break, am I right?
After all, friends look after friends.
Hang tight.
Don
____

As reported by How Rudy Giuliani Became Co-Conspirator 1, August 2, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/02/nyregion/giuliani-co-conspirator-trump-indictment

[Excerpt:]

Mr. Giuliani’s relationship with Mr. Trump hangs in the balance. A person close to Mr. Trump who spoke confidentially to describe a private relationship said that while they don’t speak regularly, the former president retains a fondness for Mr. Giuliani born from his stint as mayor, when the two dealt with each other often.

But in recent years, their relationship has been on uneven footing as the former president had refused to pay his former lawyer’s legal bills amid mounting legal troubles for both, infuriating Mr. Giuliani’s allies. The former president had told advisers that he did not want Mr. Giuliani to be reimbursed, The New York Times reported.

This year, filings suggest, Mr. Trump’s super PAC paid a legal vendor working on Mr. Giuliani’s behalf. The $340,000 payment was made weeks before Mr. Giuliani met voluntarily with Mr. Smith’s office — a meeting that took place under a proffer agreement, in which prosecutors consent to not use any statements during an interview in criminal proceedings unless it is determined that the subject was lying. The agreement does not mean that prosecutors will not charge Mr. Giuliani, nor does it indicate they will seek his cooperation.

The payment appeared to bail Mr. Giuliani out of a difficult financial situation. Before it was made, he had told the federal judge presiding over a defamation lawsuit filed against him by two Georgia election workersthat he could not afford to pay some of his legal expenses.

 

August 2, 2023

What a prodigious effort to hold Trump & enablers accountable.

We owe Jack Smith and teams and families the thanks of a grateful nation, one dedicated to the democratic propositions of equality, the right to vote & be counted, and the rule of law.

However childishly Trump deflects and denies, yesterday’s  indictment tells the story that the GOP, from the top down, has denied from the beginning of the beginning:

Highlights of Trump’s “Big Lie” of Election Fraud & His Concerted Attempt to Upend our Republic:

2012: 

Reminder: When Romney Lost, Trump Called for “A Revolution”

Thinking of it as foreshadowing.

Our friend, Christian Vanderbrouk reminds us that Donald Trump has a long career of election denialism and lies. And, I admit, I’d forgotten this, because back in 2012, we couldn’t imagine where this would lead us.

“He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election,” he tweeted [inaccurately]. “We should have a revolution in this country!”

Over the next half hour, he continued.

The phony electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one! We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!

Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us. More votes equals a loss … revolution! This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble … like never before. The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.

2016: In the run-up to the 2016 election, Trump falsely claims that the 2016 election is “rigged”,  and large-scale voter fraud rampant. Shortly after his election, he falsely claims he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”. He repeats these false assertions after he was sworn into office. brennancenter.org, July 18, 2017​

2017: President Trump signs an executive order creating the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity”. The president’s invented legions of illegal voters are the most extreme such claims in recent memory. His statements have been almost universally rejected. brennancenter.org, July 18, 2017​

2018: President Trump dissolves the “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity”, having failed to find any evidence of the electoral and voter fraud he alleged.  

Touted by the White House as bipartisan it was instead led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has long claimed there is widespread voter fraud by noncitizens despite providing no evidence of any such improprieties and only prosecuting a few fraud cases in Kansas. npr.org, Jan. 4, 2018​

2019: “More Voter Fraud Misinformation from Trump”  factcheck.org, Jan. 30, 2019​

2020: “The President’s Trumped-Up Claims of Voter Fraud” factcheck.org, July, 30, 2020. ​

“The ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud”: Heritage Foundation statistics contradict its own arguments of the risks of mail-in ballots. thehill.com, Apr. 25, 2020  ​

2021: Special Report: Stolen election? Republican lawmakers paralyzed by Trump’s false fraud claims: 147 Republican lawmakers voted to overturn Trump’s election loss, after months of Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen. 

While the vast majority of these Republican lawmakers never believed Trump’s outlandish fraud allegations, their support of his bid to overturn the election played a crucial role in perpetuating the stolen-election myth that has become a central flashpoint in American politics. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll on the subject, taken Jan. 20 and 21, shows that 61% of Republicans still believed Trump lost because of election-rigging and illegal voting.  reuters.com, Feb. 4, 2021

July 2021: Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show

“Leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, the former president is said to have told top law enforcement officials.

By Katie Benner

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/us/politics/trump-justice-department-election.html

[Excerpts:]

The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the Justice Department had found no evidence for. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.

 

Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed.

December 22, 2022.

[Excerpt:]

The findings of the Committee include the following:

1. Beginning election night and continuing through January 6th and thereafter, Donald Trump purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 Presidential election in order to aid his effort to overturn the the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions.

2. Knowing that he and his supporters had lost dozens of election lawsuits, and despite his own senior advisors refuting his own election law claims and urging him to concede his election loss, Donald Trump refused to accept the the lawful result of the 2020 election.

3. Despite knowing that such an action would be illegal, and that no State had or would submit an altered electoral slate, Donald Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th.

4. Donald Trump sought to corrupt the U.S. Department of Justice by attempting to enlist Department officials to make purposely false statements and thereby aid his effort his effort to overturn the Presidential election. After that effort failed, Donald Trump offered the position of Acting Attorney General to Jeff Clark knowing that Clark intended to disseminate false information aimed at overturning the election.

5. Without any evidentiary basis and contrary to State and Federal law, Donald Trump unlawfully pressured State and legislators to change the results of the election in their States.

6. Donald Trump oversaw an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives. 

7. Donald Trump pressured Members of Congress to object to valid slates of electors from several states.

8. Donald Trump purposely verified false information filed in Federal court.

9. Based on false allegations that the election was stolen, Donald Trump summoned tens of thousands of supporters to Washington for January 6th. Although these supporters were angry and some were armed, Donald Trump instructed them to march on the Capitol on January 6th to “take back” their country.

10. Knowing that a violent attack on the Capitol was underway and knowing that his words would incite further violence, Donald Trump purposely sent a social media message publicly condemning Vice President Pence at 2:24 p.m. on January 6th.

11. Knowing that violence was underway at the Capitol, and despite his duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, Donald Trump refused repeated requests over a multiple hour period that he instruct his violent supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol, and instead watched the violent attacks unfold on television. This failure to act perpetuated the violence at the Capitol and obstructed Congress’s proceeding to count electoral votes.

12. Each of these actions by Donald Trump was taken in support of a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election.

https://www.govinfo.gov/collection/january-6th-committee-final-report?path=/gpo/January%206th%20Committee%20Final%20Report%20and%20Supporting%20Materials%20Collection/Final%20Report/GPO-J6-REPORT

 

July 25, 2022

An ultra-right minority of Israel’s legislative branch clears the way for handing absolute power to a corrupt chief executive and vows to follow through.

Step by step, we, a majority of the U.S. voters, see Donald Trump & Jim Jordan playing in tandem the same insidious game.

They pushed voter suppression laws, a puppet U.S. AG, state fake electors, a Capitol insurrection and now phony, attention-diverting investigations. Intent on regaining power in 2024, Trump & enablers plan to strip the judicial and executive  ranks of any and all who oppose his democracy-destabilizing plans.

How to stop them?

First, calm and resolve should be the order of the day. We need only unite, vocally support Trump’s indictment and conviction, and turn out to vote in 2024.

Voting is our bulwark.

Let’s do this.

 

July 19, 2023

 

The dying last gasp of Trumpism?

Over a thousand charged in the Capitol Hill insurrection, many blaming Trump and his Big Lie of election fraud for exhorting  their participation. (In response, Trump promises pardons).

Fake electors in seven states face the music for conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Mini-Trump DeSantis finds his presidential campaign in big trouble, paying the always-high price for so closely mirroring Trump’s authoritarian bent.

Kevin McCarthy and Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan? They want to defund the police (the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice) just for doing their jobs – holding Trump accountable for conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Lacking political virtue, McCarthy and Jordan are each incapable of doing otherwise: Jordan is likely an investigative target and McCarthy hangs on by his finergnails in a bid to remain in power, even if only nominally.

Trump, rightly facing indictment for conspiring to upend the 2020 election, resorts to his habitual name-calling and threats.

Painful though it may be for all, there must be consequences for political treachery.

 

July 12, 2023

 

Link of the Month:

The Corruption of Lindsey Graham

A case study in the rise of authoritarianism.

MAY 9, 2023

https://specialto.thebulwark.com/p/the-corruption-of-lindsey-graham

I set out to research the story of Graham’s relationship with Trump because I wanted to understand how authoritarianism arose in the United States. I wanted to see how the poison worked: the corruption, the rationalizations, the vulnerabilities in the system. I wanted to learn how democracies could detect such threats and counteract them.

Here are some of the lessons I learned.

  1. Emerging authoritarianism doesn’t look like an ideology. It appears in the form of a demagogue. It’s easy to support him while laughing off the idea that you’re embracing authoritarianism.
  2. Celebration of fear is a warning sign. When a demagogue brags about intimidating his enemies, and when voters and politicians flock to him for that reason, look out. Maybe he knows who the real villains are. Or maybe he’s the sort of person who attacks anyone in his way.
  3. Authoritarian voters are the underlying threat. In every country, there are people who want a leader to break institutions and rule with an iron fist. These voters form a constituency that can lure politicians to embrace such a leader. At a minimum, they can deter politicians from opposing that leader. And if he loses power, the next authoritarian can exploit the same constituency.
  4. Political parties are footholds for authoritarians. An aspiring strongman doesn’t have to gain power all at once. He can start by capturing a party and becoming its flagship candidate. This gives everyone in the party a reason to help him.
  5. Politicians are blinded by their arrogance. They think they can manipulate an emerging authoritarian by collaborating with him. They underestimate the extent to which what they see as an alliance—but is really subservience—will corrupt and constrain them.
  6. Politicians are misled by personal contact with the authoritarian. He may seem charming or manageable, but that’s because he’s among friends and flatterers. These situations don’t reflect how he’ll treat people who get in his way.
  7. Cowardice is enough to empower an authoritarian. He doesn’t need a phalanx of wicked accomplices. He just needs weak-willed politicians and aides who will go along with whatever he does. Every country has plenty of those.
  8. Authoritarianism is a trait. Politicians can always find reasons why this or that corrupt act by an authoritarian isn’t prosecutable or impeachable. These excuses gloss over the underlying problem: his personality. If he gets away with one abuse of power, he’ll move on to the next.
  9. Democracy becomes a rationale to serve the authoritarian. Once he wins a nomination or an election, politicians can exalt him as the people’s choice. They can use this mandate to dismiss criticism of his conduct and to reject any attempt to remove him from office.
  10. Power becomes a rationale to serve the authoritarian. Once he’s in office, politicians can tell themselves that by defending him, they’re earning his trust, gaining influence over him, and steering him away from his worst impulses.
  11. Rationalization becomes a skill and a habit. The first time you excuse an authoritarian act, it feels like a one-time concession. But each time you bend, you become more flexible. The authoritarian keeps pushing, and you keep adjusting.
  12. Ad hoc legal defenses become authoritarianism. Each time the leader abuses his power, apologists claim he has the authority to do so. Over time, as he commits more abuses, these piecemeal assertions of authority add up to a defense of anything the leader chooses to do.
  13. Normalization and polarization are enough to create a mass authoritarian movement. People get used to a strong-willed leader, and their partisan reflexes kick in. If the leader is in your party, you may feel an urge to attack anyone who goes after him. You become part of his political army.
  14. Exposure of the authoritarian’s crimes galvanizes his base. His supporters turn against the media, the legislature, law enforcement, and any other institution that investigates him. They view his accumulating scandals as more evidence that the true villains are out to get him.
  15. Demonization of the opposition paves the way to tyranny. It lowers the moral threshold for supporting the leader. You must defend him, no matter what he does, because his enemies are worse.
  16. A party detached from its principles becomes a cult. Once the party begins to shed prior beliefs in deference to a leader, it loses independent standards by which to judge him. The party becomes the man, and dissent from him becomes heresy.
  17. Democracy’s culture of compromise is a weakness. Over time, an authoritarian’s will to gain and wield power grinds down politicians who are content to negotiate among competing interests. As he relentlessly imposes his will, they find reasons and ways to accommodate him.
  18. Civil servants are easily smeared and purged. Some of them might investigate, expose, or refuse the leader’s corrupt orders, since they weren’t appointed by him or elected on his ticket. But that independence makes them easy to attack as “Deep State” conspirators who are subverting the people’s will.
  19. It’s easy to provoke and exploit violence without endorsing it. You just say the election was stolen, and the president’s followers take it from there. Then, after their rampage, you warn that any punishment of him might drive them to violence again.
  20. It’s easy to rationalize ethnic or religious persecution. Demagogues tend to use any division in society—ethnic, sexual, religious—as a wedge against their enemies. A skilled politician can excuse this behavior on the grounds that bigotry is only the method, not the motive.

 

 

July 11, 2023

 

Imagine a political message addressing shared convictions – about political liberty and everyday justice for all and why it matters – a message free of preying on the vulnerable, of indifference to the vice and predations of a Putin, a kleptocrat like Orban and a sadly angry, nasty, narcissistic Trump. Anyone who would welcome them to rule their neighborhood or township would not survive intact or equal.

 

Ready to face a hard truth – the Biden economy and international stance meet the basic criteria of traditional Republicans for economy and foreign policy. The Biden administration does not countenance insurrection, roll over when the personal liberty of women or the unencumbered right to vote are attacked, or walk away from genuine global conflict threatening American ideals.

 

Want to stay true to Republican principles – don’t leave your party, just vote against pretenders like Trump and DeSantis.

 

June 25, 2023

 

Remember this?

Trump, CPAC, Majorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson.

Acolytes gushing with adoring, puerile praise for Vladimir Putin.

Enough said.

Vote.

 

Judge Luttig was appointed by George H.W. Bush and served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 2006.

[Excerpt:]

When Republicans faced an 11th-hour reckoning with another of their presidents over far less serious offenses almost 50 years ago, the elder statesmen of the party marched into the Oval Office and told Richard Nixon the truth. He had lost his Republican support and he would be impeached if he did not resign. The beleaguered Nixon resigned the next day and left the White House the day following.

Such is what it means to put country over party. History tends to look favorably upon a party that writes its own history, as Winston Churchill might have said.

Republicans have waited in vain for political absolution. It’s finally time for them to put the country before their party and pull back from the brink — for the good of the party, as well as the nation.

If not now, then they must forever hold their peace.

 

June 22, 2023

 

“Today, I wear this partisan vote as a badge of honor,” [Adam] Schiff said Wednesday [following his censure by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. “Knowing that I have lived my oath. Knowing that I have done my duty, to hold a dangerous and out of control president accountable. And knowing that I would do so again — in a heartbeat — if the circumstances should ever require it.”

Even as former Trump enablers Bill Barr and Chris Christi bare their public souls about Trump’s patent unfitness for office, and despite former Attorney General Barr’s clear rejection in 2020 of Trump’s Big Lie, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives this week peevishly behaved like those who embrace even now the Old South’s “Lost Cause”.

A friend and mental health professional recently reflected on a study of what’s motivates people to embrace the Lost Cause:

Couldn’t help but compare the the use of [Lost Cause] symbols for psychological manipulation for political purposes to the present day “Stolen Election” myth . . . .
Finally, and near and dear to my heart, the author identifies the Southern people’s – white folks that is – need to find a placebo to treat the trauma and grief of losing the civil war. Enter  the Lost Cause myth. 
Isn’t the Stolen Election myth a balm for those folks – again primarily white – whose “trauma and grief” is caused by the perception that “their” America is slipping away.  An America that was white, good jobs,  good old fashioned heterosexual sex, women who knew their place, English is spoken, children who say yes sir, and people know their place.  The myth is always more soothing than reality.
Much like the Lost Cause, the Stolen Election is an unhealthy intervention for the trauma and loss that a significant swath of the population feel.

If so, consider the contours of a healthy civic intervention:

Start with principled civic leaders, those devoted to serving all citizens, whose discourse is free of demonization, prejudice and querulousness. And anchored in the American principles of liberty and justice for all.

Such leadership instills confidence, trust, and unity of purpose, and these form the secure foundation for sustaining our Republic in good times and bad.

Virtue politics, while unimaginable in Putin’s Russia and Orban’s Hungary, is the birthright of American citizens. To vote for leaders offering less is to misdiagnose what ails us.

 

June 19, 2023

 

Donald Trump – long unaccountable to women, to creditors, to civil authorities and, since 2016, to his Constitutional oath of office.

Witness the predictable dismay over his recent indictment:

“[But] [t]here was an unwritten rule” [not to prosecute former presidents and political rivals].

And his trademark nod to revenge:

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of America, Joe Biden, and go after the Biden crime family.”

So classically Trump – aggressively blame others for one’s own criminal behaviors.

So also the RNC: In the name of “election integrity”, deny others the right to vote.

So also Mark Meadows and Scott Perry’s Freedom Caucus: In the name of “fiscal responsibility”, cut taxes for the ultra-wealthy, attack medical care of the elderly and poor, put children to work at age 14.

So also CPAC: In the name of liberty, undermine international security by supporting autocrats Orban of Hungary and Russia’s murderous Putin.

Donald Trump, a leading symptom of a disease fatal to republics and the liberal world order.

Brought to you by Trump-infected Freedom Caucus, CPAC, RNC and GOP, a four-way political suicide pact.

 

June 14, 2023

 

Bill Barr sees the writing on the wall. John Bolton decries Trump’s criminal contempt for state secrets. Chris Christy, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, the list goes on.  One by one, past loyal servants of the Trump administration say enough’s enough. Nikki Haley, too, although she would be “inclined” to pardon Trump on the criminal charges that rightly incense Barr and Bolton.

Things are falling apart for Trump and his GOP competitors know it.

However, given the desire to win over Trump’s 25% base, a successful GOP competitor (say, DeSantis or Hailey), would indeed likely pardon Trump assuming his criminal conviction following the 2024 election. Such an outcome would assure Trump political tactics endure for decades to come, instead of a likely moderating reform of the GOP from within.

All the more reason for Never-Trump-ers, former Trump Republicans and independent voters to vote Democratic in 2024. After all, for the virtuous with age comes wisdom, prudence and moderation, three presidential qualities President Biden has demonstrated time and again.

 

June 9, 2023

 

The most important thing taking place?

The momentum of cascading of events leading Trump enablers to ignominious ends.

Leadership is about strength, for sure, but equally a national and local community which treasures equality and respect for others as the natural path to cooperation and moderation.

Let’s prize the (little r) republican and (little d) democratic values that have led to this timely unraveling of ultra-right pursuits:

  • a free press devoted to fact-finding and truth-telling.
  • law enforcement and judiciary upholding, without fanfare, the rule of law.
  • voting rights advocates, tirelessly pressing the right of every citizen to vote and be counted.
  • historians illuminating where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re heading.

Truth-telling, the rule of law, the unfettered right to vote. Historical perspective.

These are foundational for every democratic republic.  From them spring cooperation and a brighter future.

Seeking a path to those noble ends? Look no further.

 

June 8, 2023

 

Wisdom literature uniformly provides a clear dividing line for evaluating human behavior: Vice or virtue.

Ever plotted behaviors of Trump & enablers against axes x and y?

It’s a flat line, starting its journey at the axes’ intersection and infinitively free-falling due south.

What else does wisdom literature capture so graphically?

Dante’s Inferno literally depicts how all hell breaks loose for those who wantonly stray from virtue’s dictates.  Dante’s characters inordinately suffer from the vices of politics – intentional sacrifices of the common good at the alters of  inordinate pleasure, avarice, fraud and blasphemy (of the rule of law, divine or secular).  Imagine, then, Trump & enablers as points on that x-y graph, descending ever-more deeply into the quadrant of political hell.

Worst of all, of course, are the harmful consequences for MAGA public “policy”, encompassing the tiny Freedom Caucus’s attempt to blow things up over the debt ceiling, Trump’s personal animus toward Ukraine after his failed attempt to withhold critical military aid, and House Speaker McCarthy’s nod to the Freedom Caucus via an endless procession of unjust policies, many directed toward women, minorities and educators.

In the end, however, things fall apart. Dissension breaks out. Insurrectionists pay a heavy price. “Persons of interest” become more forthright and begin to speak the truth. Majorie Taylor Greene: Feebly attempts to “rebrand”.  (Recall her calculated break with Matt Gaetz.  Steve Bannon’s reacts badly.) The “Freedom” Caucus: Fiasco after fiasco. Mike Pence: Finally reborn as truth teller/presidential aspirant. Ron DeSantis: Descending ever more deeply into MAGA chaos. GOP legislative candidates: Tacitly retreating from MAGA’s unrelenting assault on women’s rights. A cheaper-by-the-dozen-and-still-growing list of GOP presidential candidates, finally aligning with courageous Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger by openly, clearly denouncing Trump.  And now, Trump’s ever-more plaintive, post-indictment jumble.

Things are falling apart.

Take it as a slow-but-sure sign of national recovery, the body politic’s immune system overcoming a systemic viral infection.

 

June 5, 2023

 

It’s really as simple as 1-2-3:

“Historians are fond of saying that the past doesn’t repeat itself; it rhymes.

To understand the present, we have to understand how we got here.”

– Heather Cox Richardson

 

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

– Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858

 

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

—–

Foremost among the virtues is justice.  Not the domain of a political party, justice resides in the mind and heart of a citizen.

Justice is an outcome, an ever-evolving state of mind, spirit and action aimed at true community.  Lincoln and King deeply understood this. Petty tyrants not so much. They delight not in true community but in preying on the vulnerable. And for the sake of what?

True community instills simple lessons to dissuade those attracted to petty tyrants:

  • “Love thy neighbor”.
  • “Do unto others . . . .” 
  • “. . . prioritize public-spiritedness, tolerance, open-mindedness, and active engagement in public affairs”.

Embrace justice, embrace your neighbor, embrace the vulnerable.  Be a true citizen.

 

May 25, 2023

“The longer a man has lived in his city without being a useful citizen, the more swiftly he should be ejected from the assemblies of good citizens and from public life generally”.

– James Hankins, author of Virtue Politics

_______

Foremost among the many reasons Donald Trump is unfit to be president (or serve in any public capacity)?

His unquenchable thirst for power and utter disregard for the rule of law and the common good.

As media outlets have widely reported, Russia’s dictator Putin has aggressively embraced Trump’s reelection, desperately seeking a kindred spirit in order to crush Ukraine’s virtuous opposing thirst – for liberty, self-governance and a democratic way of life.

Among Putin’s recent terms of endearment?

An aggressive and dangerous disinformation campaign to undermine the 2024 election, an “enemies” list designed to glorify the Trump-inspired-and-led January 6 chorus of insurrectionists.  Like debased lovers with malevolent ends, Trump, Putin and Orban each face a truly ignominious end.  No Lincoln he, Trump will surely encounter his under the rule of law and its constant companion, the fair and free vote of a majority of liberty-loving Americans.

Inspiration for liberty-loving American voters?

Western Europe’s inspired dedication to the U.S.-inaugurated North Atlantic Treat Alliance, a military cooperation of consequence, one borne out of Nazi aggression and thuggery, practices violently embraced at the international level by kleptocrat Putin and at the national level by his Hungarian mime and counterpart, Viktor Orban. They are the adored soulmates of Matt Schlepp’s sad CPAC, podcast host Tucker Carlson, fake elector advocate Paul Gosar, and ever-virtue-less Donald Trump, who cannot resist the flirtations of a fellow autocrat.

Vote.

 

May 17, 2023

Quote of the Year:

[Voters and] “Journalists could better cover this moment in our history by focusing . . . on the consequences for the country if Trump wins again.

How will American life change?

Who will benefit?

Who will suffer?

The question should be “not the odds, but the stakes” as a principle for better campaign coverage” [and voting].

  • Jay Rosen, Professor of journalism at New York University [as reported by Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, May 16, 2023]

 

May 13, 2023

And the 2023 MVP in Defense of American Democracy goes to . . .

the U.S Department of Justice.

The cornerstone of our Republic is the rule of law, to which all are subject.

Trump & Enablers hold the rule of law in contempt because it mandates that those who attempt to undermine our Republic be held accountable. And for that we all depend on the U.S. Department of Justice.  Its record, fortunately, speaks for itself:

28 Months Since the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/28-months-jan-6-attack-capitol

[Excerpts:]

Saturday, May 6, 2023, marked 28 months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol that disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results.

Based on the public court documents, below is a snapshot of the investigation as of the close of business Friday, May 5, 2023. Complete versions of most of the public court documents used to compile these statistics are available on the Capitol Breach Investigation Resource Page at https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/capitol-breach-cases.

Arrests made:More than 1,033 defendants have been arrested in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (This includes those charged in both District and Superior Court).

Criminal charges:

  • Approximately 346 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including approximately 108 individuals who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
    • Approximately 140 police officers were assaulted Jan. 6 at the Capitol, including about 80 from the U.S. Capitol Police and about 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department.
  • Approximately 11 individuals have been arrested on a series of charges that relate to assaulting a member of the media, or destroying their equipment, on Jan. 6.
  • Approximately 909 defendants have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds. Of those, 103 defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
  • Approximately 61 defendants have been charged with destruction of government property, and approximately 49 defendants have been charged with theft of government property.
  • More than 309 defendants have been charged with corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding, or attempting to do so.
  • Approximately 55 defendants have been charged with conspiracy, either: (a) conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding, (b) conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement during a civil disorder, (c) conspiracy to injure an officer, or (d) some combination of the three.

Pleas:

  • Approximately 570 (674 – 94) individuals have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges, many of whom faced or will face incarceration at sentencing.
    • Approximately 149 have pleaded guilty to felonies. Another 421 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
    • A total of 61 of those who have pleaded guilty to felonies have pleaded to federal charges of assaulting law enforcement officers. Approximately 33 additional defendants have pleaded guilty to feloniously obstructing, impeding, or interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder. Of these 94 defendants, 57 have now been sentenced to prison terms of up to 90 months.
    • Four of those who have pleaded guilty to felonies have pleaded guilty to the federal charge of seditious conspiracy.

Trials:

  • 78 individuals have been found guilty at contested trials, including 3 who were found guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Another 16 individuals have been convicted following an agreed-upon set of facts. 29 of these 94 defendants were found guilty of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers and/or obstructing officers during a civil disorder, which are felony offenses, including one who has been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison.

Sentencings:

  • Approximately 485 federal defendants have had their cases adjudicated and received sentences for their criminal activity on Jan. 6. Approximately 277 have been sentenced to periods of incarceration. Approximately 113 defendants have been sentenced to a period of home detention, including approximately 15 who also were sentenced to a period of incarceration.
[Note: The Department’s investigation of Trump’s actions in the January 6 criminal probe are ongoing. See Our Card Deck and, in particular, Two of Diamonds: Capitol Insurrectionists.]

 

May 7, 2022

One can debate whether supporters of Trump and Trump copycats are willfully negligent or willfully ignorant.

And thoughtful Republican voters may agonize over whether to vote in 2024. But handwringing in all its grammatical formulations requires a personal reckoning – “I will not vote for Trump”. 

And, for influential conservatives, political virtue demands a public statement, to be repeated again and again, in terms a 12 year-old can understand, of why Trump & copycats are disastrous for the body politic of our long-enduring Republic. 

Keep it patriotic, plain and simple. But full of courage – Country trumps politics.

Whew, there, you did it. And what follows? A truly robust  expression of steadfast conservative conviction:  There is no place for Trump or copycats in our Republic of liberty and justice for all.

And, surely, the thanks of a grateful nation, present and future, will follow.

 

May 6, 2023

This is the summer of Trump’s discontent.

Springtime casualties mount inexorably:

Trump, well-advised that the 2020 election was not “stolen”, nevertheless embraced the “Big Lie” to defraud our Republic, the voters and so many unwitting donors.

A gaggle of his enabling lawyers (Giuliani, Eastman, Powell and Mitchell among them) face disbarment and indictment.

Fake electors, Georgians prominently among them, pray for immunity deals.

Fox News investors? They watch share prices plummet.

Comrade Carlson, shameless groomer of the alt-right? Fired.

His employer, Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, a U.S. citizen? He is arguably the poster boy of immigration decisions gone terribly wrong.

Twitchy Steve Bannon?  He, like comrade Carlson before him, still mostly depends on the fascism of Hungary’s Orban for his audience.

It may be difficult for some to discern, but the attraction of Trump is dimming, and he is well on the way to history’s dustbin, an exemplar of history’s most unfit.

At this inflection point, let’s recall Machiavelli’s rumination on those who enable tyrants:

whoever is the cause of someone becoming powerful is ruined

 

March 29, 2023

Two Links of the Week illuminate how intriguing pundits and lawyers alike find John Eastman, the scholar-lawyer who, under Donald Trump’s intoxicating spell, became “the chief legal architect of Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election and remain in office”.

The first dismantles Eastman’s argument via the piercing intellect and solid republican principles of retired conservative Federal Judge Michael Luttig. The second explores why a legal academic plunged headfirst into the deep end of Donald Trump’s murky, lawless world.

The Bulwark and Washington Monthly, perfectly-paired subscriptions for your aspiring law student.

 

A Tale of Two Conservative Legal Scholars

Why did Michael Luttig stand up for democracy while John Eastman tried to burn it to the ground?

March 29, 2023

https://thetriad.thebulwark.com/p/a-tale-of-two-conservative-legal

[Excerpt:]

Epps sees Eastman’s transformation as a function of the compromises people are willing to make for power. And surely that’s part of it, too.

But what makes an Eastman turn out one way and a Luttig turn out the other? None of us can peer into their souls, obviously. But it seems that it’s a combination of traits.

  • Adherence to principle over search for power
  • Devotion to country over tribe
  • Living in reality and not abstract fantasy
  • Caution in place of recklessness

In other words: the virtues. Character is destiny. 

 

The Dangerous Journey of John Eastman

How a mild-mannered law professor became the architect of a scheme to overturn a presidential election.
[Excerpt:]

I can’t help seeing Eastman’s story as a cautionary tale about the peril that awaits all of us when we venture out of the daily world of rules and norms and into the shadow world created by a figure like Trump, whose persistent message is that he is above the law—indeed, that the very idea of “law” is irrelevant to someone like him—and that if we follow him, we can be above the law as well.

I also think Eastman’s story tells us something about a serious wrong turn American conservatism took a quarter century ago, and about the dangerous path the Republican Party seeks to guide the nation on.

 

Have a yen for more? Listen:

 

Judge Michael Luttig: A Betrayal of America

MARCH 28, 2023

Trump’s incitement of Jan 6 and his call to terminate the constitution were treason-like. And the Republicans who won’t renounce him have betrayed the sacred trust Americans have conferred on them. Judge Luttig joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.

 

March 28, 2023

Voting Rights Lab reports that Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin ended the decade-long practice of his three immediate predecessors, members of both parties, of automatically restoring the voting rights of citizens with past felony convictions upon completion of their sentences.

Such a political edict is absolutely medieval. A new governor (whose state motto is Sic Semper Tyrannis) summarily and forever exiles from political society thousands of citizens, without explanation, and with callous disregard of the nature of a citizen’s crime, sentence served, remorse exhibited, degree of rehabilitation achieved.

Seen in full view, of course, Youngkin’s is the action of a vote-counting politician.  Self-interest is his game.  Political restoration of voting rights translates into opposition voters, it being well known that a disproportionately large number of those adversely affected by Youngkin’s edict are opposition voters. They are Black and other minority citizens who have long encountered such roadblocks to political participation in Southern states like Virginia.

Take care, Governor Youngkin.  Next up for disenfranchisement may be the 141 members of Congress who criminally conspired to interfere with a federal proceeding by voting against certifying the 2020 presidential electoral vote.  Criminal conduct? They each knew full well that their grounds for doing so were patently false.  If indicted and tried, each would surely be convicted of  felonious action,  and thereby forever forfeit (in Youngkin’s Commonwealth of Virginia at least) the precious right to vote.

Such an outcome, of course, would wholly depend on the political supremacy of the rule of law and its faithful counterpart, equal justice under law.  

Virtue, where art thou?

 

March 25, 2023

Trump, like Putin and Xi, disdain liberty and justice for all, the foundation of our ever-enduring Republic.

Contrast Biden’s virtuous political leadership in this challenging world with these blundering alternatives:

  • Trump’s cartoonish cry to arms in the petty kingdom of Mar-a-Lago. 
  • Mini-Trump DeSantis’s predations on the vulnerable of once-welcoming Florida.
  • Putin’s merciless war on free Ukraine and his heartless sacrifice of young Russian conscripts.

Vote.

And read Josh Rogin’s opinion about how Putin and Xi, the world’s top two autocrats, are trying to redefine the very concept of democracy and why we can’t let them succeed.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/23/putin-xi-authoritarianism-democracy/

 

March 24, 2023

The highest mockery of our judicial system?

Former President’s wholly unfounded claim of 2020 election fraud and a « stolen election ».

We know that over 60 courts, encompassing Republican and Democratic judges, agreed Trump’s claims were without merit.  And we now know that Fox News pundits, including Trump confidants Sean & Tucker, are in big legal trouble for knowingly backing Trump’s false claims.  As are are his lawyers (Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman & Sidney Powell among them).

Voting is the foundation of our Republic. Wrongly mock that process and one truly crosses the line.

Not persuaded?  Read up on what a celebrated conservative retired federal Court of Appeals judge has to say about former President Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his fitness for office. Keyword « Justice Luttig ».

 

March 8, 2023

Yesterday, Jonathan Last of The Triad/Bulwark overcame the Prisoner’s Dilemma of Trump v. DeSantis  by recasting the proposition as a problem of voters’ illiberal desires.

“Illiberal” as in not in accord with the liberal order, the foundation of our Republic.

For a shorthand notion of the liberal order, consider political philosopher Francis Fukuyama:

“There are so many dimensions to liberalism that it’s hard to answer that question in any simple way”.

“You wouldn’t have the modern world if you didn’t have liberalism, meaning you wouldn’t have rich developed countries with long lifespans and high degrees of personal wealth, and the kind of individual freedom that exists. So in general, it’s been an enormous benefit.

“I think there are many reasons why people don’t like liberal societies. For example, they tolerate a higher degree of economic and social inequality, because they are linked to a market economy”.

“And because they agree to disagree about the most important ends of life, a lot of conservatives don’t like liberalism because they would prefer to live in a society where everybody shares the same highest religious values, and liberalism doesn’t offer that. So there are a number of reasons why people are discontented”.

“In general, though, I’d say the promise of liberalism is equal treatment of individuals that are equally worthy of respect, and no liberal society ever fully lives up to that”.

These thoughts form the natural parameters of our civic discourse – the critical notions of political equality, freedom of conscience, and the dynamic relationship of capitalism and economic & social inequality.

So informed, that civic discourse is naturally directed – to enabling, for example, the best instincts of capitalists and social reformers alike (and to restraining their worst instincts). And, within this framework of individual freedom, there is no room for demagogues, theocrats, or morality police.  At the heart of every such civic discussion there is always the compelling need (and a Constitutional mandate) to promote both civic freedom and the public welfare.

It is a never-ending effort aiming at ideal ends, distinctly not shark vs. alligator vs. gorilla. There is zero room for Trump’s fiery rants about retribution, DeSantis’ inflaming assaults on freedom of conscience, or Youngkin’s child-like play with the same incendiary matches.

 

March 7, 2023

There is light after darkness and calm after the storm. Forgive these inverted expressions of hope, but promising signs continue to emerge – there is an increasing number of vocal ‘Not Trump, Not DeSantis’ Republicans devoted to prizing country over party.

They are courageously led by organizers of prominent splinter movements, like First Principles, No Labels, Adam Kinsinger’s One Country, and Ranked Voting. Across town from CPAC’s diminished retribution fest, First Principles held third annual conference and did America proud. Hold your breath.

They reject mini-Trump DeSantis and his culture war antics. They reject White Nationalism and Evangelical overreach. They are bipartisan in spirit and action. They devote time and resources and stake their reputations in these front and center efforts.

They also are circumspect, recognizing the extensive damage that Trump & enablers have so callously inflicted – on our institutions and our common regard for each other as citizens and community members. They are not naive. They know this will take time and considerable shared effort to repair anywhere from several election cycles to several generations. And, in voting, will put country first.

Welcome them in common cause. As allies and fellow citizens, in insistent rejection of the fascist spirit – of Fuentes and ‘Retribution is Mine’ Donald Trump » and the stroke-like, sad ‘Woké’ rhetoric of mini-Ron DeSantis, who so carelessly preys on the vulnerable and the principled. Thanks for listening.

 

March 4, 2023

This weekend in and near our Nation’s capitol two conferences present dueling versions of the party of Lincoln.

The Principles First Summit, a serious endeavor worthy of the attention of all, is an “all hands on deck” call to those invested in a future prizing political virtue and respectful, principled discussion about the best interests of our Republic.

CPAC meets yet again, still beholden to Trump’s distinctly unprincipled version of our Republic. Still seething with rage over a “stolen election” and still praising a boys’ choir of Capitol insurrectionists properly prosecuted under the rule of law. And, sadly, debating the meaning of Ron DeSantis’s politically abusive political misnomer woke.

See Links of the Week for both a statement of First Summit’s laudable principles and a journalist’s insight into CPAC’s shallow dive and apparent drowning in words trying to instill meaning into that wholly unprincipled word.

For followers of Trump and mini-Trump DeSantis, here’s what woke means and a reflection on poor political choices:

“I think we’re just communicating wrong, because, like, what I know ‘woke’ to mean is, like, learning new things about people or the world, and then acting accordingly. Like, basic kindness. Maybe a gesture of care to people who are more vulnerable than you. You know what, actually you wouldn’t like it — it’s Jesus stuff.”

Sarah Silverman

“It feels cooler to say, ‘I’m not woke’ than the truth, which is, ‘I’m terrified of what I don’t understand and I only know how to process that as anger because I can’t look inward.’” 

Sarah Silverman

“Politics is a matter of choices, and a man doesn’t set up the choices himself. And there is always a price to make a choice. You know that. You’ve made a choice, and you know how much it cost you. There is always a price.”

– Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

 

February 27, 2023

In “The Wisdom and Prophecy of Jimmy Carter’s ‘Malaise’ Speech”, columnist David French opines that:

Carter’s central insight was that even if the country’s political branches could deliver peace and prosperity, they could not deliver community and belonging. Our nation depends on pre-political commitments to each other, and in the absence of those pre-political commitments, the American experiment is ultimately in jeopardy.

In a political world dividing friends, family and neighbors, how invigorating to consider the simple notion of  “community and belonging” as antecedent to the world of politics. Even though irksome friends, crazy uncles and irascible neighbors abound, we know, and gratefully accept, what friends, family and neighbors have on offer:  That sense of belonging and genuine community.

With good fortune and effort, such experiences enable us to envision city, state and nation as ever-extending neighborhoods. Yet frequently unspoken is the glue that binds successful communities, both pre-political and political.  That stickiness is the character of the community’s members. For genuine community, participants require practical wisdom, which in turn turns on education (and constant practice) of the essential qualities of courage, temperance, prudence and justice.

In plain speak, it is an education conveying the essential concept of reciprocity – encountering one another with respect, engaging in discussion intently, first as active listeners, then as thoughtful speakers, choosing to deliberate after reflection and with due regard for the other.

From there, who knows – perhaps healthy disagreement, perhaps satisfying consensus.

That, it seems, is the foundation of belonging and community (and civic pride).

 

February 25, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s admonition of the dangers of “a world in which might makes right, the strong dominate the weak” also applies domestically.  Not prosecuting Donald Trump and key enablers will weaken our republic and democracies worldwide. Akin to Putin’s Animal Farm-like defense is M.T. Greene’s immoral defense of Trump’s subversive and equally persistent attempt to overturn American democracy.

Greene is an unalloyed mercenary in that shameful effort. She unsuccessfully sought a presidential pardon for her own role in supporting Trump’s multi-front effort to subvert the 2020 election, and now directs her inane and untutored venom against U.S. aid to Ukraine’s courageous struggle against Trump’s pal Putin.

It’s time for serious Republicans to get their house in order.   You deserve better. Our republic deserves the best.

 

February 17, 2023

Virtue politics nearly died on the vine in 2021.

Donald Trump’s corrupt efforts to deny Joe Biden’s victory came close, but virtue prevailed.

While accountability awaits, it’s not too early to praise those who served our republic, not narrow self-interests.

Through arduous work, journalists, judges, election officials and the legal process revealed the simple truth: Trump fabricated charges of election fraud.

His own Department of Justice and judges in over 60 cases agreed. He then unsuccessfully attempted to intimidate “swing” state elections officials. Then, to sustain his stance of election fraud, Trump attempted to install a puppet at the head of the Department of Justice, retreating only when senior DOJ leadership threatened to resign en masse. Failing those efforts, Trump embraced a “fake elector” plan, which even lawyers of his own Administration characterized as pure “bullshit”.

But Trump had persuaded his followers that the election had been stolen, so he proceeded with his over-arching plan – to claim the presidency under false pretenses. By inciting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, he created a smoke screen of chaos intended to intimidate his Vice President to see the plan through.

Although the Vice President’s prescribed role in presiding over the Electoral College vote was purely ministerial, Trump’s plan required Pence not to accept the Electoral College results reflecting each state’s popular vote. The election outcome would therefore be referred to state legislatures, the overwhelming number of which being Red states and thus delivering Trump his “victory”.  Pence being the crux of the plan, and Trump being Trump, the defeated president relied on intimidation to force  tPence to follow the plan.

Courageously, Pence refused, in the threefold face of (1) Trump’s public and private remarks denigrating and threatening him, (2) insurrectionists shouting “Hang Pence”, and (3) 147 Republican members of Congress voting on January 6 to overturn the 2020 election results.  Consequently, Trump failed and Biden was inaugurated as President.  Trump threw one final ‘Hail Mary’ pass, an insistent call for, and his personal funding of, state-level “audits” and reviews in certain “swing” states of the 2020 presidential vote.  And our republic, thanks to the courage of many. survived each of these repugnant efforts to undermine it.

Formal accountability awaits Trump and his enablers.

Worthy candidates for legal prosecution?

Among others, former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Peter Navarro, Sidney Powell, Cleta Mitchell, Jeffrey Clark, Mark Meadows, Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Steven Bannon, Roger Stone and representative fake electors including Paul Gosar.

Civil liability for knowingly promoting the false narrative of election fraud?

Likely candidates include Fox News, FNC owner Rupert Murdoch, Fox News pundits Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and MyPillowGuy Mike Lindell.

Disbarment and other professional disciplinary action?

Attorneys Giuliani, Powell, Mitchell, Eastman and Clark.

For those enablers seeking history’s benediction, it’s highly unlikely.

For dramatists considering a modern take on Dante’s Inferno, there is a Card Deck full of politicians to fill Dante’s circles of Hell.

And for the role of Dante’s guide Virgil, we propose Ike Eisenhower.

To play Dante’s Dante?  Maybe Larry Hogan?

 

January 27, 2023

The latest investigative reporting from Arizona speaks volumes – not only as to the boundless hubris of Trump and his enablers, but also of the unnamed lawyers and accountants who worked to shield their shameless actions from public view and accountability. 

Relying on a labyrinth of entities and multiple money transfers, former President Trump routed $1 million to kickstart the baseless and failed Cyber Ninjas “audit” of Arizona’s 2020 presidential vote. It was a contest called early and accurately by Fox News among others to the bitter consternation and persistent denial of Mr. Trump. 

The cast of characters? All diehard Trump enablers, including: Rudy Giuliani, who exhorted violence on January 6th; former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (memo-burning confidante of election-deniers Jim Jordan & Ginni Thomas); “Fringe of the Fringe” lawyer Cleta Mitchell; “Release the Kracken” lawyer Sidney Powell; and “Stop the Steal” PillowGuy Mike Lindell.

All have been implicated in multiple efforts to overturn the 2020 election by endlessly pitching the Big Lie to voters, swing-state election officials, U.S. Capitol rioters and insurrectionists, extreme alt-Right media personalities, Red state legislators, fake state electors, U.S. Attorney Generals Barr and Rosen, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Homeland Security officials, former Vice President Pence and (with no success) over 60 federal and state judges.

So how did they fail to understand that following the money is child’s play for persistent and experienced investigators?  It appears they well understood that risk, given that most if not all sought presidential pardons, exercised 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination, did not comply with legal subpoenas or, perhaps, testified incompletely, thereby obfuscating the truth before the Select Committee on Jan. 6th, the Fulton County, Georgia grand jury or the U.S. Department of Justice.   

None have shown remorse, either for staging a sham election audit, helping Mr. Trump raise the $1 million from small donors under the patently false pretense of voter and election fraud, or concealing the identity of Mr. Trump as the donor. 

Whatever legal risks these enablers may face in Arizona, a pattern of behavior clearly emerges which may inform grand jury deliberations in Fulton County, GA and ongoing investigations of the U.S. Department of Justice.  As for the lawyer involved in shielding Trump’s money transfers from public view, bar associations also have a public duty to take appropriate disciplinary action. 

Meantime, we owe thanks to these remarkable organizations for exposing such interference with the federal election process.

Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism project,

The Guardian, independent journalism supporting the fight for democracy,

the non-partisan accountability group American Oversight, and

the Arizona Republic,   

Each, for such steadfast efforts to restore the integrity of our republic, is deserving of our praise and our private financial support .  

 

January 14, 2023

What follows is (in our humble opinion) hands’ down the best summary of the recent report of the Congressional Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 attack of the U.S. Capitol. 

It is a mere 12 paragraphs and truly gets to the point, reciting the crux of the evidence cited to support the Committee’s findings.

That’s no small feat since the Committee’s report is 800+ pages and  “executive summary” a still-challenging 200 pages.

[We are updating, poco a poco, our content to reflect the findings of this long-awaiting investigation and report].

What the January 6th Report is Missing

“Here, radically reduced—forty gallons of sap to one gallon of maple syrup—is a very un-executive summary of the report. Donald Trump never said he’d abide by the outcome of the election. In May of 2020, fearing that Biden might win in November, he tweeted, “It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history!” He understood that he would likely lose but that, owing to an effect known as the Red Mirage, it would look, for a while, as if he had won: more Democrats than Republicans would vote by mail and, since mail-in ballots are often the last to be counted, early counting would favor Republicans. “When that happens,” Roger Stone advised him, “the key thing to do is to claim victory. . . . No, we won. Fuck you, Sorry. Over.””

“That was Plan A. In September, The Atlantic published a bombshell article by Barton Gellman reporting that the Trump campaign had a scheme “to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.” That was Plan B. Plan A (“Fuck you”) was more Trump’s style. “He’s gonna declare victory,” Steve Bannon said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s the winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.” On Election Night, November 3rd, Trump wanted to do just that, but his campaign team persuaded him not to. His patience didn’t last long. “This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said on November 4th. “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.” The next day, he tweeted, “stop the count!” On November 7th, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, the Associated Press, and Fox News all declared that Joseph Biden had won. The election was not close. Counting the votes just took a while.”

“After Biden won, Trump continued to insist that widespread fraud had been committed. Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, told the January 6th Committee that the campaign became a “truth telling squad,” chasing allegations, discovering them to be unfounded, and telling the President, “Yeah, that wasn’t true.” The Department of Homeland Security looked into allegations, most of which popped up online, and announced, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” The Justice Department, too, investigated charges of fraud, but, as Barr informed the committee, he was left telling the President, repeatedly, “They’re not panning out.””

“For Plan C, the President turned to Rudy Giuliani and a group of lawyers that included Sidney Powell. They filed sixty-two lawsuits challenging election results, and lost all but one of these suits (and that one involved neither allegations of fraud nor any significant number of votes). Twenty-two of the judges who decided these cases had been appointed by Republicans, and ten had been appointed by Trump.”

“On December 11th, the Supreme Court rejected a suit that had challenged the results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump had had every right to challenge the results of state elections, but at this point he had exhausted his legal options. He decided to fall back on Plan B, the fake-electors plan, which required hundreds of legislators across the country to set aside the popular vote in states won by Biden, claiming that the results were fraudulent, and appointing their own slate of electors, who would cast their Electoral College votes for Trump on December 14th. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the White House counsel determined that, since none of the fraud allegations had been upheld by any court, the fake-electors plan was illegal. But one deputy assistant to the President told Trump that it didn’t matter whether there had been fraud or not, because “state legislators ‘have the constitutional right to substitute their judgment for a certified majority of their constituents’ if that prevents socialism.””

“Plan B required Trump to put pressure on a lot of people. The committee counted at least two hundred attempts he made to influence state or local officials by phone, text, posts, or public remarks. Instructing Trump supporters to join in, Giuliani said, “Sometimes it even requires being threatened.” A Trump-campaign spreadsheet documents efforts to contact more than a hundred and ninety Republican state legislators in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan alone.”

‘Barr resigned. “I didn’t want to be part of it,” he told the committee. Plenty of other people were happy to be part of it, though. Ronna McDaniel, the R.N.C. chair, participated and provided Trump with the assistance of R.N.C. staffers. On December 14th, certified electors met in every state. In seven states that Biden had won—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—fake electors also met and produced counterfeit Electoral College certificates for Trump. Five of these certificates were sent to Washington but were rejected because they lacked the required state seal; two arrived after the deadline. None were accepted.’

“Trump then launched Plan D, which was not so much a plan as a pig’s breakfast of a conspiracy, a coup, and a putsch. Everything turned on January 6th, the day a joint session of Congress was to certify the results of the Electoral College vote. To stop that from happening, Trump recruited members of Congress into a conspiracy to overturn the election by rejecting the certified votes and accepting the counterfeits; he asked the Vice-President to participate in a coup by simply declaring him the winner; and he incited his supporters to take over the Capitol by force, in a poorly planned putsch, which he intended to lead. On December 17th, Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News, “There has been an alternate slate of electors voted upon that Congress will decide in January.” Two days later, Trump tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. On January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” The legal architect of the Pence part of the pig’s breakfast—“a coup in search of a legal theory,” as one federal judge called it—was a lawyer named John Eastman. The Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann recalled a conversation he had with Eastman:

‘You’re saying you believe the Vice President, acting as President of the Senate, can be the sole decisionmaker as to, under your theory, who becomes the next President of the United States? And he said, yes. And I said, are you out of your Fing mind?”

“Trump pressed the acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, and other members of the Department of Justice to aid the conspiracy by declaring some of the voting to have been fraudulent. Rosen refused. “The D.O.J. can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election,” he told Trump. Trump replied, “I don’t expect you to do that. Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.” Trump tried to replace Rosen with a lackey named Jeffrey Clark, but, in a tense meeting at the White House on January 3rd, Rosen and others made clear to him that, if he did so, much of the department would resign. Trump and Eastman met repeatedly with Pence in the Oval Office and tried to recruit him into the conspiracy. Pence refused. At 11:20 a.m. on January 6th, Trump called Pence and again asked him, and again Pence refused, after which, according to Ivanka, the President called the Vice-President a pussy.”

‘Trump was slated to speak at his be-wild rally at the Ellipse at noon, but when he arrived he was unhappy about the size of the crowd. The Secret Service had set up magnetometers, known as mags, to screen for weapons. Twenty-eight thousand people went through the mags, from whom the Secret Service collected, among other banned items, “269 knives or blades, 242 cannisters of pepper spray, 18 brass knuckles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armor, 3 gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments.” Some people had ditched their bags, and presumably their weapons, in trees or cars. In a crowd that included members of white-supremacist and far-right, anti-government extremist groups—including the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, America First, and QAnon—another twenty-five thousand people simply refused to go through the mags. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons,” Trump shouted. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags away.” The mags stayed. Trump took to the podium and fired up his followers for the march to the Capitol until 1:10 p.m., and then he walked to his motorcade, climbed into the Presidential S.U.V., which is known as the Beast, and demanded to be driven to the Capitol. Secret Service agents persuaded him to return to the White House.”

“Just before the Joint Session was to begin, at one o’clock, Pence released a written statement: “I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress.” The voting began. By 1:21, Trump had been informed that the Capitol was under attack. He spent the rest of the day watching it on television. For hours, his staff and his advisers begged him to order the mob to disperse or to call for military assistance; he refused. At 1:46, Representative Paul Gosar objected to the count from Arizona, after which Senator Ted Cruz endorsed that objection. Pence was evacuated at 2:12. Seconds later, Proud Boys achieved the first breach of the Capitol, smashing a window in the Senate wing. Eleven minutes later, the mob broke through the doors to the East Rotunda, and Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” The mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” Meadows told a colleague, “He thinks Mike deserves it.” Kevin McCarthy called the President. “They literally just came through my office windows,” he said. “You need to call them off.” Trump said, “Well, Kevin, I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are.” At 4:17 p.m., the President released a video message in which he asked the insurrectionists to go home, and told them that he loved them.”

“And that, in brief, is the report, which concludes that “the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump.” And that, in brief, is the problem: chasing Trump, never quite untethering itself from him, fluttering in the biting wind of his violent derangement, like a ribbon pinned to the tail of a kite during a tornado, and failing, entirely, to see the tornado.”

 

January 3, 2023

Over seven years ago, the Big Lie of Voter Fraud took flight. Anticipating his loss in 2016 to Hillary Clinton, Trump had a whopper of an excuse at the ready.   To save face on unexpectedly winning, he briefly established a Presidential Commission to investigate voter fraud.  While that Commission was short-lived, producing no evidence of the voter fraud that Trump had falsely asserted, as the 2020 election approached Trump & Enablers aggressively revived the Big Lie for more malignant purposes.

It’s seems fair to say that, in 2019, no one (save journalistis Anne Applebaum and Bart Gellman of The Atlantic) foresaw the extreme threat which Trump & Enablers posed to our nearly 250-year-old experiment as a democratic Republic. 

Two years ago, Trump’s Big Lie was the driving force behind state efforts to suppress the right to vote, efforts of others to attack the U.S. Capitol, and efforts of yet others to obstruct Congressional  counting of 2020 electoral votes. Yet Trump’s Enablers and the GOP emphatically denied such reports.

Two years ago, we decided simply to support the right to vote and shine a light on those who sought to undermine it.  We followed the news accounts, analysis and opinions, collected links and excerpts, identified prominent Trump enablers (the list grew), and portrayed new state voter suppression laws as nothing but a rigged card game. 

Two weeks ago, the Congressional committee charged with investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol identified 11 actions that former president Trump undertook to support “a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 Presidential election”.  At the top of the list: Trump’s Big Lie. 

Facts: Our right to vote depends upon the rule of law.  And  elected and appointed officials faithfully fulfilling their oaths of office to uphold it.  The Committee’s work was non-partisan in the best sense of the word.  We should honor its members and those who testified. They put our Republic first. They worked tirelessly and testified freely. They did not refuse, did not invoke the Constitutional right against self-incrimination, did not claim an executive privilege which clearly does not protect obstruction of justice or official proceedings. 

WE SALUTE THEM. 

See:

Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed.

December 22, 2022.

https://www.govinfo.gov/collection/january-6th-committee-final-report?path=/gpo/January%206th%20Committee%20Final%20Report%20and%20Supporting%20Materials%20Collection/Final%20Report/GPO-J6-REPORT

 

December 20, 2020

 

And a salute today to the remarkable Heather Cox Richardson, historian, professor and devoted daily chronicler of former President Trump’s plunge into Dantesque political chaos.

Her report today deserves the attention of us all, regardless of political affiliation:

 

Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public hearing. 

It reviewed the material establishing how former president Donald Trump planned even before the 2020 election to declare he had won even if he actually lost, and how he executed that plan. It then laid out how he maintained he had won even as his own lawyers and campaign advisors repeatedly assured him that the conspiracy theories on which he was relying were false. It showed how he contested Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victories in court—losing 61 times—and then pressured state governments to “find” the votes he needed to win.

When those attempts to hand him the election all failed, he turned to trying to steal the election through pressuring state officials to create false slates of electors that chose him, rather than Biden, and then pressured the Department of Justice to get states to turn to those electors by alleging—falsely—that the department thought the election was fraudulent (its leaders had said repeatedly, in no uncertain terms, that the election was not fraudulent). When Justice Department leaders refused, he tried to put a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, at the head of the department to do as he wished. He was stopped only when the department leaders threatened to resign as a group.

That left him with a plan hatched by right-wing lawyer John Eastman. The plan hinged on the outrageous idea that the vice president, in his capacity as the person to oversee the counting of electoral ballots, could decide not to count the legitimate ballots for which Trump loyalists had submitted competing ballots, enabling him single-handedly to throw the election to Trump over the wishes of the American voters. 

Eastman himself admitted this plan was illegal.

And yet it was Trump’s last hope to look like he was playing by the rules. When Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, refused to participate in the scheme, Trump went to his final card—his trump card, if you’ll forgive me—his base. 

Exactly two years ago today, on December 19, 2020, when it became clear that his campaign lawyers had lost their legal challenges and the real electors had filed their electoral slates, Trump tweeted to his supporters to urge them to come to Washington, D.C., on January 6, the day those electoral votes would be counted and confirm Biden’s election to the White House. Falsely claiming what he knew to be untrue, that it was statistically impossible for him to have lost the election, he told his supporters: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” 

The right-wing militias he had courted since the Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right rally of August 2017 heard the message. Immediately, they interpreted his tweet as an order to come to Washington to keep him in office, with violence if necessary, and they planned accordingly. Trump appears to have seen their potential violence as a final way to force Pence to do as he wished. When the vice president continued to refuse, Trump whipped up the crowd against his vice president and sent them toward the Capitol, where both houses of Congress and the vice president were all, in an exceedingly rare occurrence, together. 

For 187 minutes, as his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump watched the chaos on television and did nothing to stop it, communicating only with those continuing to try to stop the counting of the electoral votes. Only when troops had been mobilized and it was clear the insurrection would not succeed did he tell his people that he loved them and they should go home. They promptly did, underscoring that he could have called them off whenever he wished. 

He expressed no concern for those under siege that day, and he did nothing to stop the rioters. 

After outlining the former president’s attempt to stay in power against the wishes of the American people, overturning the very foundation of our democracy, the committee members voted to refer Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution for violating at least four laws:  

The first law the committee says Trump broke was that he obstructed an official proceeding. Trump tried corruptly to stop the joint session of Congress counting electoral votes in a bunch of different ways, from gathering false electors, to trying to send a letter to state legislators from the Department of Justice lying that the department thought the election was suspect, to spurring on a mob. Under this charge, the committee also referred lawyer John Eastman “and certain other Trump associates.” 

It noted that “multiple Republican Members of Congress, including Representative Scott Perry, likely have material facts regarding President Trump’s plans to overturn the election. For example, many Members of Congress attended a White House meeting on December 21, 2020, in which the plan to have the Vice President affect the outcome of the election was disclosed and discussed. Evidence indicates that certain of those Members unsuccessfully sought Presidential pardons from President Trump after January 6th…revealing their own clear consciousness of guilt.”

The second law Trump broke was conspiring to defraud the United States, in this case by stealing the election. Other conspirators the committee suggests the department should look at include Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Rudolph Giuliani, and Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The third was conspiracy to make a false statement, which the committee said described the false elector scheme. This conspiracy, too, might involve others, including Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, who agreed to help Trump with the project. 

The fourth law the committee says Trump broke was that he “Incited,” “Assisted,” or provided “Aid and Comfort” to an insurrection. 

The committee suggested that this list was not exhaustive and that there might be other laws the former president has broken. Those included obstruction of justice, as the committee revealed that some of its witnesses suggested Trump loyalists had attempted to affect their testimony. The referrals create no legal obligation for the Justice Department to act but, along with the evidence the committee has compiled, will make it important for the department to explain why it disagrees that crimes have been committed if it decides not to charge the former president.

The committee also referred four members of the House to the House Ethics Committee for ignoring the committee’s subpoenas: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ). The incoming Republican House will likely ignore this referral, but that will make it hard for its members to enforce subpoenas themselves.

Along with the hearing, the committee released an introduction to its forthcoming report. At only 104 pages, the report is worth reading: it’s very clear and very fast paced, reading more like a 1940s thriller than a government report. And like an old-time novel, it has in it some eye-popping facts just waiting for more development. 

Trump raised “raised roughly one quarter of a billion dollars…between the election and January 6th” by falsely claiming election fraud. The “Trump Campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, sent millions of emails to their supporters, with messaging claiming that the election was ‘rigged,’ that their donations could stop Democrats from ‘trying to steal the election,’ and that Vice President Biden would be an ‘illegitimate president’ if he took office.” That’s a lot of money raised fraudulently, and the RNC was involved. The RNC shows up again when chair McDaniel agrees to help Trump with the fake elector scheme.

The committee establishes that Trump fully intended to go with his supporters to the Capitol. This is a very big deal indeed: the president traditionally cannot go to the chambers of Congress without a formal invitation. Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani told Cassidy Hutchinson, top aide to Mark Meadows, that Trump intended to be with the members of Congress and to “look powerful.” A White House security official said, “[W]e were all in a state of shock…we all knew what that implicated and what that meant, that this was no longer a rally, that this was going to move to something else…. I—I don’t know if you want to use the word “insurrection,” “coup,” whatever.”

The committee generously attributes this plan to be part of Trump’s hope to pressure Pence, but historian of authoritarians Ruth Ben-Ghiat noted that a leader launching a new regime needs to be present at the front of his cheering troops to mark his success.  

Fittingly, on December 15, the Coup d’État Project of theCline Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Illinois, which maintains the world’s largest registry of coups, attempted coups, and coup conspiracies since World War II, reclassified the events of January 6 as an attempted “auto-coup.” According to its director, Scott Althaus, an auto-coup occurs when “the incumbent chief executive uses illegal or extra-legal means to assume extraordinary powers, seize the power of other branches of government, or render powerless other components of the government such as the legislature or judiciary.”

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson, December 19, 2022

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/december-19-2022?

 

December 19, 2022

Following the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, this site has followed daily reporting on former President Trump and those enabling him to do the unthinkable – to prevent the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election of President Joe Biden.

Today, a Congressional investigative committee announced its decision to refer criminal charges against Trump to the U.S. Department of Justice for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and obstructing Congressional certification of the 2020 electoral vote.

The panel is also referring to the Department of Justice several individuals in our Enabled Card Deck, including  lawyers John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and Jeffrey Clark and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

It is also referring four members of the House to the House Ethics Committee (for failing to respond to committee subpoenas): Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan, and Scott Perry, who introduced Jeffrey Clark to Mark Meadows and former President Trump (all five represented in the Enabled Card Deck), and Andy Biggs.

Instead of including Biggs, a notorious supporter of the Big Lie, in the Enabled Card Deck”, four other Arizonians were selected for that ignoble distinction: Paul Gosar, Kelli Ward, Mark Finchem and Jake Hoffman. Each in his and her own way undermined our democratic Republic by ceaselessly promoting Trump’s Big Lie and Team Trump’s efforts to send fake electors to the Congressional certification of the 2020 electoral vote and to pursue fake “audits” and “reviews” of the 2020 presidential election results well into 2022.

Patently narcissistic, Trump has repeatedly described himself as a the greatest of all U.S. presidents and just last week made a “major announcement”, the marketing of a digital card deck featuring him as superman.

Present and future historians will, of course, recognize Trump for who he is, a transparent but dangerous and wholly self-interested demagogue, the very worst of U.S. presidents by any standard.

Members of the Committee, we salute you for upholding your Constitutional oath to protect and defend the United States of America.

 

November 15, 2022

Link of the Week, post Midterms 2022:

Confronted with an unexpected moment of reckoning, some moderate Republicans are pointing out the party has some important decisions to make about its future:

  • Are they going to be the party of former President Donald Trump or a party that wins elections?
  • Are they going to be able to excise the “extremism” in their party that more Republicans are openly talking about?

 

November 14, 2022

Politico’s Ryan Lizza observed yesterday that former President Trump’s “scandals, criminal investigations, election denialism and constant threats to announce his presidential campaign” turned 2022 “into a choice rather than a referendum”.

The consequence? Democratic control of the Senate, leaving Trump and enablers to play the blame game.

Most Republicans blame Trump, who degraded the office of U.S. Senator by shamelessly promoting election deniers Walker, McMasters and Oz, among others.  Unsurprisingly, Trump blames McConnell.  And naked ambition childishly drives MAGA senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson  to pile on McConnell in a sign of fealty to Trump.

MAGA is in trouble, and rightly so. It inclines sharply toward Leninism,  the “tear it all down” game plan long favored by Trump’s former political director Steve Bannon.

For the GOP, MAGA has been catastrophic. Prior to Trump, the GOP’s principal interests were: economic prosperity, global security and compassionate conservatism. MAGA, on the other hand, is consumed by an unnatural love for foreign autocrats, a shameful revival of both White Supremacy and anti-semitism, the embrace of deformed notions of Christianity, and harsh contempt for everyday Americans who reject such uncivil and anti-American attitudes.

Democracy, of course, is messy.  A constant struggle to follow our better angels, framed by the hopeful idea of a more perfect union. What MAGA, Trump and Bannon lack is an essential capacity observed by author Jon Meacham: “. . . if you send someone to the pinnacle of American power who has no conscience, who has no moral compass, then American democracy and the cause of liberty will suffer and possibly die.”

 

November 10, 2022

It’s still Election Day, at least in the sense that the 2022 results are not yet final.

Given the tumult of this 2022 political season, what better time to introduce a new link:

Dynamic Ideas for Mending our Democracy

Under this optimistic heading, let’s turn our thoughts from election denial to how to improve our hard-won democracy.

Recent polls confirm that a large bipartisan majority of voters are in agreement that elections should be impartially administered.

Study after study identifies concrete steps to assure the integrity of elections without deterring eligible voters.

Legal experts pinpoint blockages that upend the necessary balance in the plumbing of our electoral system.  These blockages include dark money, gerrymandering, and state legislative initiatives to suppress votes, block voter initiatives, and bypass state executive and judicial review.

So, delve in, be informed and get engaged. Pursue the goals of civic dialogue – reasoned opinions, deliberative discussion, and active engagement. These are the infrastructure of a more perfect union.

 

November 8, 2022

It’s Election Day.

Today we choose leaders to make collective choices – how best to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To choose wisely among competing goods. And to dissuade  us from our worst instincts.  To exhort us to follow our better angels, to become a more perfect nation.

For many, democracy is at stake, trumping the always-important, but subsidiary, objectives of  economic security.  For those citizens,  under these trying circumstances, the cardinal freedom is the freedom to aspire always toward political equality for all.  To think, express oneself, associate with others, all in furtherance of the civic recognition of equality of all.

Such efforts are not about “identity politics” or examples of “wokeness”.  They are a genuine application of the declaration of independence’s call for an ever more perfect union. And they only really happen when inequality is revealed, a struggle ensues, and then courts pay attention. Not by constitutional amendment, not waiting for a particular religious orthodoxy to give up an unwarranted cultural prejudice, but by exercising that freedom in particular.

That seems to be the way to a truly happy political life post these unruly midterms.

And it begins with advancing the unfettered right to vote.

 

November 4, 2022

“The Emperor has no clothes.”

To see what is in plain sight sometimes requires the mindset of a child.

Until this week, many voting adults saw John Eastman has a dogged believer in election fraud, not as a lawyer relying on a falsehood in order to buy time.  By baselessly asserting election fraud, Eastman saw an opportunity to defer certification of the 2020 electoral vote just long enough to keep Trump in power through other machinations.

And that is the Achilles heel of Trump’s attempt to undermine the rule of law. Fabricate or deny the facts. Then throw in a legal argument to delay or deny justice.

Examples? Lose an election? Claim election fraud, fabricate claims of voter fraud. Attempting to defraud creditors by transferring assets in the dark of night? Deny the facts and claim judicial bias and corruption. Our legal system, however, is devoted to sorting out the facts. When facts are fabricated or wrongly denied, the rule of law rightly calls out the lawyers.

Trump lawyer Sidney Powell asserted widespread, election-outcome-changing voter fraud to support John Eastman’s legal theory. Neither believed it but saw this fib as the means to delay certification of the electoral vote, a legal strategy of justice delayed is justice denied running decidedly in Trump’s favor. Powell now argues in defending a multi-billion dollar law suit by a voting machine maker that no one should have reasonably believed her. Eastman didn’t, but decided it was all he needed to support a legal point in want of a factual predicate.

The rule of law (in the form of professional ethical rules) provides the legal basis to disbar such lawyers. That process is underway for lawyers Eastman, Powell, Giuliani and others. Fear of such action may be driving others to testify against Trump after years of supporting/acquiescing to his many fabrications and denials. Witness Michael Cohen and arguably Pat Cippolone.

For the rule of law, only the facts matter.

 

November 3, 2022

Suffering from the deeply divisive and morally debased spectacle of Trumpism run amok?

Refresh your spirit in this exhortation of a moral leader:

In our bones, we know democracy is at risk.  But we also know this: It’s within our power, each and every one of us, to preserve our democracy. 
 
And I believe we will.  I think I know this country.  I know we will. 
 
You have the power.  It’s your choice.  It’s your decision.  The fate of the nation, the fate of the soul of America lies where it always does: with the people — in your hands, in your heart, and your ballot. 
 
My fellow Americans, we’ll meet this moment.  We just need to remember who we are.  We are the United States of America.  There’s nothing — nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together. 

Excerpt from President Biden’s remarks on standing up for democracy, delivered on  November 2, 2022:

 

October 27, 2022

Two Links of the Week are deserving of your civic-minded attention:

Does the Constitution Guarantee a Right to Vote? The Answer May Surprise You.

For decades, the courts and Congress have taken the lead in expanding the legal right to vote, but the founders never explicitly included it.

and

See how your votes aren’t equal

 

October 26, 2022

Death threats and intimidation have long been a tool of the right-to-life movement, just as they are the stock-in-trade today for election deniers who similarly threaten election administrators and workers.

Such behaviors have absolutely no place in American civil society, which is rooted in the rule of law and Constitutionally guaranteed personal liberties for all. Surely civil servants like Justice Alito, who has recently complained about death threats against Supreme Court justices, have a broad duty to speak out against such outrageous behaviors in every context.

Can that point be pressed in a fawning interview of Justice Alito with a conservative organization like the Heritage Foundation, whose overriding interests since 2020 has been to promote Trump’s Big Lie in the egregious form of so-called “election integrity” laws, to praise the “Alito Court” for its unilateral revocation of a woman’s longstanding Constitutional right to make personal reproductive decisions free from election-denying and other believers?

Remove the beam from thine eye, Justice Alito.  Be civil.

 

October 15, 2022

Partisan chatter and talking heads aside, let’s evaluate the Jan. 6 investigation simply by comparing (a) what the public knew before the investigation and (b) what we now reasonably know.

Prior to the Jan. 6 Congressional committee investigation, the public knew that:

  • In both the 2016 and 2020 elections, President Trump vigorously asserted, without evidence, election outcome-changing fraud.
  • By all evidence, Trump definitively lost the 2020 presidential election, including such measures as:
    • the popular and electoral vote
    • the Department of Justice Department and his own Attorney General
    • all major media news outlets, including Fox News
    • the judicial outcome of over 60 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results, including all “swing” states, and
    • a singularly unsuccessful appeal of the 2020 election results to the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Nevertheless, in early January 2021, the Republican National Committee (RNC) elected to fully embrace Trump’s Big Lie of election fraud.
    • To drive home the Big Lie to discontented voters, the Trump-run RNC rolled out a massive campaign to “reform” Red state voting and election administration laws.
    • National in scope, it was a propaganda coup, reinforcing Trump’s false message of a stolen election..
    • State by state (19 and counting), the RNC led Red state legislatures to adopt “election integrity”-styled bills perniciously designed to deter opposition voters from voting and and to elevate election deniers to positions of election authority and oversight.
  • Trump directly pressured election officials 0f Georgia “to find” more votes.
  • Trump and operatives (including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone) strategized to stoke Trump voters’ resentment, bringing White Supremacy and other hostile groups to the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 to contest Congressional certification of the 2020 electoral vote .
  • Trump publicly humiliated and tried to intimidate his vice president not to certify the 2020 election.
  •  147 Republican members of Congress voted against certification of the electoral votes under political cover of the Big Lie.
  • Trump operatives devised yet another plan to overturn the election – sending fake electors from swing states to cast their respective state electoral votes for candidate Trump.

Following the Jan. 6 Congressional committee investigation, the public now reasonably knows that:

  • Trump knew the Big Lie was baseless, a propaganda product of his own making,
  • He knew that he lost the 2020 election.
  • Yet he persisted in the Big Lie, determined to retain political power in contravention of his oath as President, his duties under the Constitution, and the demands of the rule of law.
  • Most importantly, former President Trump was at the epicenter of all efforts to overturn the 2020 election (including the last-gasp round of fake audits designed to maintain the propaganda campaign of the Big Lie).
  • Trump and operatives did in fact engineer and provoke the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and conspiratorially obstructed justice in a thankfully unsuccessful effort to overturn the 2020 electoral vote.
  • In this shameful and democracy-threatening effort, Trump considered proposals to impose (i) martial law, (ii) seize voting machines, (iii)replace the then-acting Attorney General with a compliant DOJ employee, and (iv) install as his lead election-denier lawyer one who now faces disbarment for her role in bringing baseless election lawsuits and whose defense is that no one should have reasonably taken her seriously (akin the the Tucker Carlson/Fox media defense).
  • Moreover, former President Trump endeavored to subvert to his autocratic will the full agency and resources of the federal government, including our Nation’s executive and judicial branches and its leading military and intelligence departments and agencies.

Still doubtful, need to know more?

  • Read and reflect deeply on the accounts of 54+ enablers who supported Trump’s lust for power, several of whom have since given up that pernicious effort.
  • For those few, at least, the spoils of political power did not overcome their love of honor and country.
  • Recommit to pledge allegiance to the bedrock principles of democratic Republic over partisan politics, among them the unfettered right to vote and be counted.

This chapter in our episodic American political history is still an account in the making. It’s reasonably clear, however, that:

  • Trump is unfit to hold future political office.
  • He can, and should, be rightly held accountable under law for his various attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election, the Constitution and the always-attendant rule of law.

Because such outcomes are not inevitable, this site remains dedicated to conveying a simple truth:  Like a card shark sharply tilting the odds at winning a simple card game, enablers of politicians like Donald Trump can and will undermine our Republic  for their own ignoble ends.  Only the persistent, dedicated work of citizens,  journalists and historians stand between such enablers and their ignoble ends.

And the first and only reliable defense is an informed citizen who exercises the unfettered right to vote.

 

September 23, 2022

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward path had been lost.”

In The Inferno, Dante envisions a special place in Hell for politicians and enablers who betray principles of republican governance and the citizens they govern. It’s not difficult to imagine a modern take on Inferno, one that matches Dante’s imagined punishments enabler by Trump enabler.

After all, we now know, reasonably clearly, that Trump & enablers envisioned the January 6 insurrection, worked in concert to overturn the 2020 election, endeavored to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, and persist today in efforts to suppress opposing votes and manipulate upcoming elections. As Dante would say, to Hell with all of them.

While theater offers cathartic relief, genuine relief is underway. Investigation, prosecution and fair prospects of judgment and appropriate punishment are in the works, all according to the rule of law. What a debt of gratitude we owe the aspiring authors of this democratic work-in-progress – public servants, fellow citizens, journalists and historians, all courageously dedicated to seeing our precious Republic through this forest dark.

 

September 10, 2022

Among recent books on the state of our political disunion, one in particular explores a favorite theme of historian Heather Scott Richardson, author of Letters from an American: 

“Historians are fond of saying that the past doesn’t repeat itself; it rhymes. To understand the present, we have to understand how we got here.”

To this end, John Grinspan, curator of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, captures this poetic idea symphonically in The Age of Acrimony, How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy , 1865-1915. 

That pugnacious period encompassed three great death-of-democracy struggles: (1) the South’s reactionary and brutally oppressive policies of Jim Crow, plainly designed to negate Congressional enfranchisement of Black male voters, (2) strident and persistent resistance to women voting, and (3) the longstanding, unbridled system of “pay-to-play” political patronage.

While those bitter struggles eventually produced political reforms (the vote for women and the rise of a professional political class), Grinspan contends we suffer today for the price paid to regain a degree of civility. To achieve reforms to which Americans became accustomed in the 20th century, the democratic ideal of an engaged citizen was sacrificed. An “intimate bond” between an individual and national politics was lost. Consequently, citizens’ participation in political parties fell, voting rates plunged and democracy suffered.

Today, one hears a new symphony, its movements clearly rhyming with the discordant period of 1865-1915). High voter turnout has returned, as Americans debate the wisdom of new red state laws designed to suppress the votes of people of color. Women, having lost a longstanding right of personal choice, fully engage to recover it. Opposition voters are rightly exorcised over a vile new patronage system that enables election deniers, through the unlimited support of billionaires, to seek election to higher office in order to institutionalize those candidates’ anti-democratic platforms. Two concerned experts have recently proposed a new sacrifice may be necessary in order to secure a return to civility – the “de-federalization” of these United States, a kind of bloodless civil war, while they clearly acknowledge that their prescription would likely kill both patients./1

So, before turning to such radical political “solutions”, might we embrace the wisdom of Plutarch, keen observer of Greek and Roman political lives upon which so much of our American Republic rests:

Music, to create harmony, must investigate discord”.

1/ These Disunited States, Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson (The New York Review of Books, Sept, 22, 2022 issue)

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2022/09/22/these-disunited-states-steven-simon-jonathan-stevenson/

 

September 8, 2022

Steve Bannon free falls into darkness, facing the music after so many flagrant efforts to overturn our Republic while fund raising off the backs of guileless donors. Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr again calls out former President Trump for yet another criminal act.  This time it is Trump’s unlawful possession of top secret documents, last time for lying about winning the 2020 election in order unlawfully to hold onto power.  And poor Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is in hot water with billionaire MAGA donors for truthfully stating that the GOP’s support for election deniers and Capitol rioters seeking federal and state office is an indefensible and losing proposition.

Trump himself and enabler Rudy Giuliani, among others, face criminal prosecution in Georgia in addition to federal prosecution for conspiracy and  obstruction of justice. (There was that attempt to find more votes in Georgia and that massive effort to subvert Congressional certification of the 2020 electoral vote).

David Gerson, a prominent conservative Christian, movingly called out evangelical MAGA supporters for entirely missing the point of the life and message of Jesus. Meantime, election-denying MAGA-ites were shocked, shocked, that President Joe Biden would dare to state, in plain language, that their speech and actions undermine everything for which this Nation stands. And a growing bipartisan coalition exhorts us all to place country over partisan politics.

Some advice to community college and university students pursuing STEM-and vocationally-oriented studies:

As you rightly pursue credentials to make a living, open up some space to  make a citizen of yourself. 

Tackle the seminal readings of our democratic Republic. Join a discussion group. Discover that workplace and political society alike demand and reward these important skills  – respect for others, active listening, collaboration, critical reading and reflection, and  the humility and wisdom of making room for others. 

On civic values  

“. . . prioritize public-spiritedness, tolerance, open-mindedness, and active engagement in public affairs”.

– Frances Fukuyama

 

August 28, 2022

Two Links of the Week remind us that the work of democracy is all about getting the vote out:

‘You are more powerful than you think.’ Why one man says it’s too soon to write off democracy in America

Updated August 28, 2022

https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/28/us/eric-liu-american-democracy-resilient-cec

[Excerpt:]

Liu, 54, is CEO and co-founder of Citizen University, a nonprofit group based in Seattle, Washington, that teaches people how to cultivate civic power. He also is an evangelist for democracy, a charismatic writer and speaker whose philosophy could be distilled in this observation from the late historian Howard Zinn: “Democracy is not what governments do; it’s what people do.”

Democrats see the once unthinkable: A narrow path to keeping the House

While Democrats acknowledge they still face major hurdles, there has been an unmistakable mood shift, according to interviews with candidates, strategists and officials

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/08/27/democrats-republicans-house-midterms/

—–

Let’s do our part.

 

August 17, 2022

Today’s reflection:  On DINOs, RINOs and the rule of law.

Without free and fair elections, there is no democracy. No Rule of Law. No Republic.  No Home of the Free.

DINOs (Democracies in Name Only), of course, feign a democratic air.

They exhibit many of the hallmarks of fully-functioning democracies:

A constitution. A leader called a “president” or “prime minister”. A  legislative body (albeit composed of said leader’s political cronies). A “judicial system”.  All that’s really missing is the Rule of Law and free and fair elections.

Witness Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, Erdogan’s Turkey, and CPAC-adored Orban’s Hungary. Yep. all “democracies”.

Author Robert Caro, intrepid explorer of political power, observed:

“What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do.”

A recent demonstration of Caro’s proposition: Liz Cheney’s decision to use her considerable political power to take the battle against Trump to her fellow Republicans.  Undaunted by the prospects of loss of office, Cheney is driven by true love of country and the rule of law. Liz sees America as that shining city on that hill, not a sh*t-hole nation.

In plain view is what Cheney always wanted to do: To protect our nearly 250 year-old experiment in republicanism against the lawlessness of Donald Trump & minions.

Far from being “a national referendum” on the January 6 committee’s work, the Wyoming contest is the best evidence yet that, with such leadership, democracy and the rule of law will prevail.

Let future historians address Wyoming’s fall from grace.  Meantime, may the rest of us praise Cheney.  Her work on the Jan. 6 Committee exemplifies true courage.  Her commitment to democracy and the rule of law are the conduct of a true patriot.

Liz has demonstrated, with Euclidean precision, Caro’s proposition about power.  She has shown, step by logical step,  what Donald Trump (a Republican in name only) has always wanted to do – to upend our beautiful, precious and longstanding Republic for the sake of shameful personal ends.

What’s more shameful? The persistent conduct of his many enabling minions. motivated by a shared shameful end – power for its own sake.

Let’s put an end to it.  Will we allow Trump & minions to wrest away from the bonds of memory our precious Republic and the personal freedoms it assures?

 

August 12, 2022

“It’s important not only for Fox News viewers, but for the network’s hosts and top executives, to hear former Vice President Cheney‘s warning about the ongoing danger Donald Trump and his lies pose to our constitutional republic.” 

– Jeremy Adler, spokesman for former Vice President Dick Cheney

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/aug/10/dick-cheney-ad-air-fox-news-bringing-stinging-crit/

 

Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and his little band of Trump pundits have an overriding duty, former Vice-President Dick Cheney argues, to save our Republic by calling out Donald Trump’s fatal demagoguery and criminal ways.

But surely Cheney knows that Murdoch is in way too deep.  He long ago abandoned Fox News feigned pretense of “Fair and Balanced” truth-telling. Bottom line: Murdoch & minions are far too tightly aligned, financially and psychologically, with former President Trump’s bad boy ways.  Just as Trump fund raises off of his anti-democratic antics, Fox News profits simply mirroring Trump’s denials, deflections and lies. Wholly lacking in virtue, neither Murdoch or Trump gives a rat’s ass about democracy or the promise holds for the rest of us.

In Catch-22, author Joseph Heller observes:

“You know, that may be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

Heller understood, of course, that no one of moral bearing admires that sort of thing. So Mr. Cheney, a stalwart exponent of a conservatism wholly at odds with Mr. Trump’s perverse conception of that ideology, clearly must be exhorting into action not Fox News but Republicans who share his love of our Republic.  To speak up, draw the line indelibly, and vote in 2022 and 2024 against Trump and his aspiring minions  as if the life of our venerated Republic depends on it. Because it does.

 

August 3, 2022

Perhaps the most unflinching look at the intersection of former President Trump’s criminal exposure is to be found daily at The Bulwark, worth the modest subscription x 10:

Why Garland Should Go Big

He shouldn’t bring a pen to the gun fight

August 2, 2022

https://morningshots.thebulwark.com/p/why-garland-should-go-big?

“While the investigations are clouded in wholly appropriate secrecy, we know the possible menu. Garland’s DOJ has the option of bringing charges that range from the relatively minor — the mishandling of government documents and the destruction of government-issued ketchup — to the political and legal equivalent of nuclear winter: a charge of Seditionist Conspiracy against a former president of the United States.

It is a target-rich environment. Other possible charges include 18 U.S.C §1512 obstruction of Congress; 18 U.S.C. §371, criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States; Obstruction of Justice; Solicitation to Commit Election Fraud, and Incitement to Violence.

The folks at Just Security have been keeping track of all of the criminal evidence unearthed by the various January 6 probes. It noted the 1/6 Committee’s list of Trump’s seven-part plan to commit fraud on the U.S. government by:

1. Engaging in a colossal effort to spread false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him;

2. Corruptly planning to replace the Acting Attorney General with Trump apologist Jeffrey Clark, so that the Department of Justice would substantiate his fake election claims;

3. Pressuring Vice President Pence to refuse to count or delay the counting of certified electoral votes in violation of the U.S. Constitution and statutory law;

4. Pressuring state election officials and state legislators to change election results;

5. Instructing Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives;

6. Summoning and assembling a violent mob in Washington and directing them to march on the U.S. Capitol; and

7. As the violence was underway, ignoring pleas for assistance and failing to take immediate steps to protect the Capitol and stop the violence.

The case, in other words is both comprehensive and compelling.

Reviewing the record, Federal Judge David Carter wrote: “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.

Referring to Trump’s legal Iago, John Eastman, the judge wrote: “Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.”

“Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal theory,” the court ruled. “The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.”

You can read his whole 44-page opinion here.

**

So how will Garland’s DOJ make its decision? Failure to charge Trump with anything would essentially concede that current and former presidents are above the law.

But let’s stipulate several things: (1) The decision has to be based solidly on the law and the evidence, so the case will hold up in court and before juries; (2) This will be the most difficult and consequential decision the Department of Justice has made in decades; (3) The decision to charge/not charge the ex-president will create a monumental precedent; (4) There are considerable downsides either way, and, finally; (5) A decision to criminally charge Trump will be politically incendiary.

Since I am not a lawyer and do not play one even in morning newsletters, I will confine myself to that final point.

No one should be under any illusions about the blowback from indicting Trump. The political reaction would be intense and emotional and perhaps even violent. Trump himself has already called for “the biggest protests we’ve ever had” if he is hit with criminal charges. (Trump’ call to action prompted the Atlanta-area DA to ask the FBI for help with security.)

Trump’s threats were clearly meant to intimidate prosecutors and they may have some effect. Team Garland will undoubtedly weigh the possible fall-out from a Trump conviction/acquittal after the TRIAL OF THE MILLENIUM. They know the risks of bringing any charges they can’t prove beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

But they shouldn’t worry about the politics, because whatever they decide it will be awful.

And that’s why — if they decide to charge the former president — they should go as big as possible. If you shoot at the king, make sure you kill him.

What would “big” look like?

As former DOJ prosecutor Andrew Weissmann explained in his NYT op ed:

The evidence gathered in the hearings describes a multiprong conspiracy — what prosecutors term a hub and spoke conspiracy — in which the Ellipse speech by President Trump and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol were just one “spoke” of a grander scheme.

Weissmann urges Garland to pursue a full-fledged “hub and spoke” conspiracy case that ties together all the elements of the plot, not just the events of january 6:

Instead, what the hearings have revealed is evidence of a plot orchestrated by Mr. Trump and his allies in the White House and elsewhere — including players from the Mueller investigation like Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani as well as new players like Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman. The “spoke” of the Jan. 6 riot should be seen and investigated simultaneously with the other “spokes”: orchestrating fake electors in key states, pressuring state officials like those in Georgia to find new votes, plotting to behead the leadership of the Justice Department to promote a lackey who would further the conspiracy by announcing a spurious investigation into election fraud, and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to violate the law.

Garland may be tempted to imagine that prosecutorial restraint would be met by a relatively restrained MAGA response. This is, of course, utterly delusional, because in our politics today there is no proportionality.

Minor criminal charges will not spark a minor political reaction. Bigger charges are not actually more incendiary that middle-of-the-road charges because the rage meter is always dialed up to 11.

For the MAGA right, any charge — technical or major — will be a Flight 93 moment all over again.

So this is not a moment for the faint of heart or the naïfs who think they can bring a pen to a gun fight.

The law can teach as well as compel. Garland has a chance to place an exclamation point behind Trump’s seditious criminality.

Charging Trump with “conspiracy,” “fraud,” “obstruction,” and/or “incitement,’ would not move the MAGAites, but it would help educate millions of other Americans who might remember what it means to keep a Republic.”

-O-

 

August 2, 2022

A new Link of the Week deserving of your attention.

As the ultra conservative U.S. Supreme Court strains to topple longstanding Federal authority over our elections, a recent analysis of our Constitution ought to give anyone pause, especially those jurists and Federalist Society members convinced that our Founders would today look to 18th century home remedies whenever they or our Nation catches a cold.

Read on and you just might be on your way to the best political writing of the summer:

 

The Forgotten Constitutional Weapon Against Voter Restrictions

A former Justice Department lawyer thinks he’s found a way to penalize states that undermine voting rights.

[Excerpt:]

It’s been a hard few years for people worried about voting rights in America. Republican-controlled states are imposing a raft of new restrictions. A divided Congress has failed to pass any legislation in response. And the Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case that could give state legislatures unchecked power over election rules.

But perhaps a largely forgotten provision of the Constitution offers a solution to safeguard American democracy. Created amid some of the country’s most violent clashes over voting rights, Section 2 of the 14th Amendment provides a harsh penalty for any state where the right to vote is denied “or in any way abridged.”

A state that crosses the line would lose a percentage of its seats in the House of Representatives in proportion to how many voters it disenfranchises. If a state abridges voting rights for, say, 10 percent of its eligible voters, that state would lose 10 percent of its representatives — and with fewer House seats, it would get fewer votes in the Electoral College, too.

Under the so-called penalty clause, it doesn’t matter how a state abridges the right to vote, or even why. The framers of the constitutional amendment worried that they would not be able to predict all the creative ways that states would find to disenfranchise Black voters. They designed the clause so that they wouldn’t have to. “No matter what may be the ground of exclusion,” Sen. Jacob Howard, a Republican from Michigan, explained in 1866, “whether a want of education, a want of property, a want of color, or a want of anything else, it is sufficient that the person is excluded from the category of voters, and the State loses representation in proportion.”

That approach could come in handy for discouraging states from imposing more limits on voting, as the country witnesses what Adam Lioz, senior policy counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, calls “the greatest assault on voting rights since Jim Crow.”

There’s just one problem: The penalty clause isn’t being enforced — and never has been.

One man is now waging a legal campaign to change that. It’s a long shot, but if he succeeds, it could serve as a sharp deterrent against voting rights restrictions and even reshape the entire electoral map. At minimum, the push highlights why such language was included in the Constitution in the first place.

 

July 31, 2022

This relentless summer heat wave must be approaching the boiling point  for prominent Trump enablers.  For them, there is no retreat to restorative shade.  For the Jan. 6 investigations have produced, through courageous testimony of many lifelong Republicans, a summer’s bounty of damning evidence that Trump and enablers sought to undermine our democracy.

Let this be the summer of our disabuse. Let us not bow down to life ruled by petty, venal tyrants. Let us celebrate our Nation’s true strengths and virtues.  Let’s talk about how to settle our heartfelt differences in ways as neighbors and friends. Let’s follow our better angels.

Let CPAC’s Matt Schlapp know there is no place in American political life for the “pure Nazi rhetoric” of a politician like Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Let young Matt Gaetz and our children and their children know that unbridled political ambition never pays.

Let Kevin McCarthy forever feel stinging shame in asserting that he has “no recollection” of his utter dismay over Trump’s dedicated efforts on Jan. 6 to steal the election.

And let every prominent enabler of Trump (and any would-be mini-Trump) know, with certainty, these political days are over.  Let’s start again.

 

July 1, 2022

The cumulative effect of Trump Republicans’ testimony before the January 6 Committee drew  this shameful rant from John Daniel Davidson, a senior editor at The Federalist, professing astonishment that the conservative publications Washington Examiner and National Review could declare Trump “unfit for power again“:

Davidson’s fact-free, mercenary retort begins:

Something is very wrong with the supposedly right-of-center media outlets and commentators treating the Jan. 6 committee like something other than the appalling Stalinesque show-trial that it is. In particular, the Washington Examiner and National Review both ran embarrassing, delusional op-eds about the hearings this week. The Examiner even ran an editorial declaring, “Trump proven unfit for power again.”

and ends by denigrating the integrity, patriotism and, yes, courage of those eye witnesses to Trump’s relentless, deadly efforts to upend everything for which our Republic stands:

Or maybe they secretly despise the right and need to feel like they’re sticking to their principles and speaking the truth to their own side. Maybe it makes them feel righteous and noble.

I don’t know. But I do know that the testimony we heard on Tuesday was a farce, that the Jan. 6 committee is an abysmal spectacle and an abuse of government power, and that anyone on the right who can’t see that should either hang up his commentator hat or go ask The Atlantic to host his newsletter. I hear it’s nice work, if you can get it.

A question for Johnson from all who can accept the facts, however painfully:

Is shilling for someone like Donald Trump “nice work if you can get” or something Cicero would rightly decry?

 

June 4, 2022

This site began almost two years ago, a tiny fraction of the life of our American Republic.

It started with the simple idea of a card deck of top Trump enablers.  Its center of gravity –  the import of Trump’s Big Lie of voter and election fraud.  The U.S. Capitol riots assured us that dots would be connected, and we decided to follow the facts.

What followed was John Eastman’s ‘Green Bay Sweep’, the Trump-led RNC  implementation of Red state voter suppression laws, a host of ‘swing state’ fake electors, baseless audits of state election results, followed by adamant GOP-wide denials and recriminations. Still, the truth will out.  Thanks to the truly remarkable work of news and public service organizations, journalists and historians, courageous Republicans and the January 6th Committee, the dots are being connected.

Consequently, the number of Jokers in our Card Deck has grown and their Big Lie roles and associations now increasingly evident. Together, they point to a well-organized effort of elected officials intent on upending the peaceful transfer of power. Then Big Lie metastasized, and threatens to tilt future elections.

The Rules of our Card Game upend end fair play just as the Big Lie and its progeny unfairly tilt elections.

Like McCarthy before him, Donald Trump relies primarily on instilling fear in others – be they subordinates or voters.  Fear tames the overly ambitious, feeds the resentful, and disdains the rule of law.  Trump’s secret sauce, like that of every petty tyrant, is mixing fear and blatant, persistent lying.  But, as author and journalist Bob Woodward has observed, there is hostility to lying.

As dots are connected, and American history  rightly indicts Trump and his unrepentant enablers, future work for our little site is assured.  Serious obstacles remain to exercise of the right to vote.  A dystopian future Mini-Trumps will continue to threaten the rule of law, and especially the unbiased administration of free, fair and secure elections. In order to resurrect civic trust and some degree of bipartisan cooperation, tempers must cool and visions of the common good must be shared through public discourse free from petty animosities, free of fear, and together as Americans.

“We don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone” need not be our final reflection.

The January 6th Hearings – PBS NewsHour 

.

 

 

June 3, 2022

On June 1, Kyle Cheney of Politico produced the legal memo by lawyer John Eastman that a judge ruled was likely part of a criminal effort to overturn the 2020 election.

In Heather Scott Richardson’s June 2, 2022 edition of Letters from an American, one sees Eastman’s actions in the big picture – Big Lie as arch foe of our American democracy – the concerted, networked action of Trump Republicans to upend elections 2022, 2024 and beyond. These anti-democratic Trump enablers include Rudy Giuliani, Mo Brooks, Cleta Mitchell, Steve Bannon and the RNC.

To bring home the gravity of this threat, Richardson closes with this haunting admonition of Nick Penniman, founder/CEO of the nonpartisan election watchdog group Issue One:  

“[It] is completely unprecedented in the history of American elections that a political party would be working at this granular level to put a network together…. It looks like now the Trump forces are going directly after the legal system itself and that should concern everyone.”

 

See our Links of the Week, which include:

Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

June 2, 2022

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

 

Read the Trump-world legal memo that a judge ruled was likely part of a criminal effort to overturn the election 

Kyle Cheney

June 1, 2022

https://www.politico.com/minutes/congress/06-1-2022/jan-6-strategy-memo/

See also our Card Deck of 54+ Trump enablers for profiles of Eastman, Giuliani, Pence, Brooks, Mitchell, Bannon, the Republican National Committee and others.

 

May 18, 2022

Have you considered the direct relationship of the “Great Replacement Theory” to  persistent Red state efforts to deny Blacks and others the right to vote?

Explore these two meditations on the subject.  

The first is a no-holds look at the reckless free-fall of a traditional Republican pol into the depths of racism.  The second takes a historical look at the nasty itch the new G.O.P. can’t help but scratch. 

 

Toxic Ideas Can Have Fatal Consequences

https://morningshots.thebulwark.com/p/toxic-ideas-can-have-fatal-consequences?

[Excerpt:]

 After this weekend’s horrific events in Buffalo, critics reminded us that the one-time Paul Ryan acolyte [Elise Stefanik] had joined other right-wing voices pushing the Great Replacement Theory, putting out social media posts that declared:

Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

That drew a sharp rebuke last September from the Albany Times Union, which asked: “How low, Ms. Stefanik?”


Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

May 15, 2022

[Excerpt:]

Racial hostility kept the Black population of Indiana small, but it also fed the cultural and social discrimination that made Indiana the beating heart of the resurgent Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Under violent con man David Curtis Stephenson, who raped, mutilated, and murdered a female state employee, the Indiana Ku Klux Klan developed the idea of “100% Americanism,” which argued for a hierarchy of races in which the white race was uppermost. Immigrants and Black Americans, that theory said, were destroying traditional America.

That argument has poisoned American politics since the 1870s. Yesterday, the Buffalo shooter echoed the modern European great replacement theory, but he also echoed the racial “socialist” argument of the U.S. He railed against Black Americans, whom he wildly insisted take, on average, $700,000 apiece from white Americans. He urged those who thought like him not to pay taxes, which he said would be wasted on such people. Then he warned white Americans not to become a political minority because minorities are never treated well.

Today’s Republican politicians, including Elise Stefanik of New York, the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, have pushed the great replacement theory for years and even after yesterday’s massacre have refused to denounce it. That theory is based in racial hate, but it is not only about racial hate. It is also about politics, and today Republicans are using it to create a one-party state.

“I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, who is one of the country’s leading proponents of the great replacement theory, said on his show. “But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”

It was not true in 1879, it is not true now, and people making this argument have blood on their hands.

 

May 10, 2022

Next month the show begins.  The Jan. 6 committee holds public hearings detailing the hard-won findings of dedicated journalists and investigators who for two-plus years have delved into the sources and consequences of the Big Lie and its deadly spawn.    

A Committee report will be issued prior to the mid-terms, a critical mission completed under adverse circumstances but so essential to our Republic’s continued prospects. 

The hearings and report will supersede the effort of our little Card Deck of 54+ prominent Trump enablers to track through time their prospect of facing political accountability, the hallmark of a functioning Republic.  

Future histories, of course, will supersede the Jan. 6 Committee report. Historians will benefit from revelations beyond the reach of a Committee so hamstrung by recalcitrant witnesses who refuse to comply with Congressionally mandated subpoenas, who elect not to incriminate themselves in the course of responding to the Committee’s inquiry, or who see more profit in telling their own slanted story for a publisher’s ransom.

Perhaps a deathbed confession or two a la Lee Atwater will follow, confirming what we already know: Elected officials from so many offices of Federal and state government broke a sacred oath of office to defend, protect and preserve our democratic form of government.  

In any case, divine justice of a sort awaits, as a future Dante will surely capture and consign  perpetrators of the Big Lie to a vision of literary hell befitting their misdeeds, hopefully a drama offering cathartic release and reset that exiled Dante himself offered citizens of future Republics who seek to recover from political catastrophe .

 

April 30, 2022

This week, two must reads for you: 

The Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election

April 7, 2022

Let’s continue the celebration of April Fool’s Day, at least through this week:

Cruz and Cotton cut to the chase on GOP’s suspicion of defense lawyers

[Excerpt:]

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for one, cast Jackson’s work as a public defender as revealing a character flaw.

“People go and do that because their heart is with criminal defendants, their heart is with the murderers, with the criminals, and that’s who they are rooting for,” Cruz said on Fox News last weekend. He added that “public defenders often have a natural inclination in the direction of the criminal” and claims Jackson “carried it onto the bench when she became a criminal judge.”

To Harvard Law School grad Ted Cruz, who prides himself on being a master debater,  a brief reminder of the obligation of defense counsel of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Standards:

(a) Defense counsel is essential to the administration of criminal justice. A court properly constituted to hear a criminal case should be viewed as an entity consisting of the court (including judge, jury, and other court personnel), counsel for the prosecution, and counsel for the defense.

(b) Defense counsel have the difficult task of serving both as officers of the court and as loyal and zealous advocates for their clients. The primary duties that defense counsel owe to their clients, to the administration of justice, and as officers of the court, are to serve as their clients’ counselor and advocate with courage and devotion; to ensure that constitutional and other legal rights of their clients are protected; and to render effective, high-quality legal representation with integrity.

Ted aspires to be our president one day but is congenitally addicted to arguing to win for the sake of winning, thereby foolishly contradicting himself in major and very public ways.

He once argued that Donald Trump is “utterly amoral,”  “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen”.  He argued that Trump  “is a pathological liar, he doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies … he accuses everyone of lying . . . .”  

Today master debater Ted thinks otherwise.

Sadly, ever-aspiring Ted has reduced himself to sycophancy, bending on knee to say  whatever it takes to curry the favor of Trump, who is utterly immoral, a narcissist, a pathological lier, whose political M.O. is to deny, deflect and lie.  

In collaborating, without evidence of fraud, to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results, Senator Ted betrayed his professional legal standards, any meaningful sense of what it means to be a Harvard  or a Princeton man, and his sworn and patriotic duty to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution. Behold the Fool. 

 

April 1, 2022

What better way to celebrate April Fool’s day than to introduce new Jokers to our Card Deck of Enablers?

Welcome:

John Eastman – Trump Former Legal Advisor

Peter Navarro – Trump Former Policy Advisor

Ginni Thomas – Political Activist and Spouse of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas

Mark Finchem – AZ Candidate for Secretary of State

Kelli Ward – AZ GOP Chair

Jake Hoffman – AZ State Rep.

The RNC Election Integrity Committee

Play BlackJack and see how adding seven more Jokers further undermines your chances of winning (and voting).

The ultimate winning hand?

Be informed, register to vote, support the right to vote, & vote and be counted.  

That’s the true measure of the well-being of our democratic Republic.

 

March 31, 2022

The Bulwark and the questions raised in this feature by conservative Charlie Sykes is worthy of reading by all Americans, especially as a recent poll reports that many favor Trump’s return to presidential power.  

Let us all be clear: Donald Trump will do anything and everything to try regain presidential power.

He is master only of this lifelong credo: “Deflect, Deny and Lie”.

Morning Shots with Charlie Sykes

March 30, 2021

Trump’s Treason

[Excerpts:]

Some accounts leave out the key phrase that Trump uses when he explains why Putin might help him.

“As long as Putin is not exactly a fan of our country… I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it… you won’t get the answer from Ukraine… I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer.”

“As long as Putin is not exactly a fan of our country… said the former and perhaps future president at a time of international conflict.”

“Now commenceth my rant.

  • Republicans, defend this. Go ahead. Try. Don’t dodge or hedge. Defend your leader’s partnership in slime and blood with Vladimir Putin.
  • Tell me again that he learned his lesson.
  • Explain again that you think the whole Russia thing was a hoax.
  • Justify putting this defeated, disgraced, twice-impeached deplorable back in the Oval Office.
  • And make the case for giving the nuclear codes back to this scabrous traitor.”

March 18, 2022

This just in from MIT’s Election Performance Index –

“Despite widespread claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or poorly managed, election administration did not just persevere under unexpected and challenging conditions—it improved.

The 2020 election was an anomaly in many ways, but the Election Performance Index (EPI) shows us that election administration continued to trend in the direction it was already heading: up. While there was more early voting and voting by mail than previous years (a pre-existing trend that 2020 accelerated), overall, more states improved their practices, data, and reporting.

When looking at the index for 2020, we must of course remain mindful of the 2020 election atmosphere and context. In an election year like 2020, though, where administrators and election officials had to adapt quickly to unprecedented challenges, data-driven measures became even more important in finding and telling the story of how elections in the US are managed.

About the EPI:

The EPI was the first objective measure of election performance in each state for U.S. midterm and presidential elections. It began tracking election administration with the 2008 election. Innovative and unique, it provides a comprehensive assessment of how election administration functions in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Importantly, the EPI allows us to identify the specific parts of election administration that have improved, and to see the parts of the system that have lagged behind. Its data-focused approach means it can serve as a foundation for discussions about the challenges that arise for election administrators, and shed light on the opportunities each state has to address them.

What does the 2020 Index tell us?

Overall, the 2020 EPI tells us that U.S. election management was better than ever. The majority of states improved their election administration, despite adverse conditions; a whopping 45 states saw their index scores rise from the previous presidential election.

“The blocking and tackling of running elections has been very good,” says MIT Election Lab director Charles Stewart III, “and it got better in 2020.” The curveballs delivered by 2020 may have forced election administrators away from the expected, but broadly speaking, they delivered results: states performed essentially as they have in previous elections. While that might not seem triumphant, it means that for all of 2020’s challenges, the fundamental outcomes of election administration were consistent between 2016 and 2020. States held their own, wherever they were, with most states improving.”

 

March 3, 2022

Fourteen months after the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the arc of the universe bends toward justice:

  • “.. . in a case concerning whether the Oath Keepers, who stormed the Capitol on January 6, engaged in seditious conspiracy, Joshua James of Alabama pleaded guilty. According to CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane, who is following all the January 6 cases, James agreed that he tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of presidential power and that Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes had a “plan” for accomplishing that disruption. In the plea deal, James said that “Rhodes instructed James &..conspirators to be prepared, if called upon, to report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter & use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump.”From: Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American <heathercoxrichardson@substack.com>,
    March 2, 2022
  • “In a civil case in California, the committee’s lawyers for the first time laid out their theory of a potential criminal case against the former president. They said they had accumulated evidence demonstrating that Mr. Trump, the conservative lawyer John Eastman and other allies could potentially be charged with criminal violations including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the American people.” Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, March 2, 2022; Updated March 3, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/02/us/politics/trump-criminal-charges-jan-6.html
  • Trump enabler Pat Cipollone’s Pyrrhic victory . . . .  The real hero of the Trump administration? None other than: Alexander Vindman on Why It’s the ‘Beginning of the End’ for Putin. The former Ukraine expert for the National Security Council shares his take on the Russia-Ukraine war.By Jane Coaston, March 2, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/01/opinion/alexander-vindman-ukraine-russia-war.html?action=click&module=audio-series-bar&region=header&pgtype=Article 

February 21, 2021

Those among our Card Deck of Enablers already subpoenaed or requested to appear before the  January 6 Committee include:

  • Mark Meadows,
  • Stephen Bannon
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Eric Trump,
  • Roger Stone,
  • Alex Jones,
  • Sidney Powell,
  • Michael Flynn
  • Kayleigh McEnany
  • Stephen Miller

A running list of who the January 6 committee has subpoenaed or requested to appear

 

 

February 7, 2022

The 2020 presidential election was not stolen – full stop.

In doubt?  Have a look:

There’s new evidence showing the lack of fraud in 2020 that Trump’s base will never see

 

February 2, 2022

Read this article, study its  findings.

Then consider the work ahead of us – of rebuilding trust in each other and in our democratic Republic – free of vote-suppressing laws, sham audits, fake slates of electors and political representatives elevating personal interests over duty to the Constitution and our enduring American ideals of liberty and justice for all.

 

February 5, 2022

Our top enablers of the Big Lie of a stolen election top today’s news:

[Excerpts:]

The [January 6] committee has no law enforcement role, and its stated goal is to write a comprehensive report and propose recommendations, including for legislation, to try to make sure the events of Jan. 6 are never repeated.

Members of the Jan. 6 committee say the obstacles thrown up by Mr. Trump and his allies and the high stakes of the investigation have left the panel with no choice but to use every tool at its disposal.

“It’s not a criminal investigation, but having experienced former prosecutors who know how to run complex, white-collar investigations working on a plot to overturn the presidential election is a very useful talent among your team,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and a committee member.

Mr. Trump moved to block the National Archives from handing over documents from his White House, leading to a monthslong court fight that ended with the committee receiving the documents.

At least 16 witnesses have sued to try to block the committee’s subpoenas. Four of the panel’s most sought-after targets — the conservative lawyer John EastmanJeffrey Clark, the Justice Department lawyer deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s plays to try to stay in power; the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; and the longtime Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. — invoked the Fifth Amendment as a way to avoid answering questions without the threat of a contempt of Congress charge. [Boldfaced added].

Three Republican members of Congress — Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader; Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania; and Mr. Jordan — told the committee that they would refuse to sit for questioning. [Boldface added].

Despite those obstacles, the committee turned its attention to lower-level aides, who investigators knew were in the room for many of the key events that occurred in the lead-up to and during the assault, or were told almost immediately about what had occurred. So far, the committee has spoken to at least a half-dozen lower-level aides who fall into this category.

When Mr. Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, refused to testify, the panel turned to his top aide, Ben Williamson, who complied with a subpoena and sat for hours of questioning. After Mr. Clark, the Justice Department lawyer, refused to cooperate, a former senior counsel who worked for him, Kenneth Klukowski, sat for an interview with the committee. [Boldface added].

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the panel, said the committee was not trying to “flip” witnesses the way investigators might do in a criminal case. But, he said, “If you drew some kind of social diagrams of who’s testifying and who’s not, pretty much everyone is testifying, except for those who are in the immediate entourage of Donald Trump.”

Among the other aides who have testified before the committee are Marc Short, Greg Jacob and Keith Kellogg, all of whom worked for former Vice President Mike Pence. Three former spokeswomen for Mr. Trump have also cooperated: Kayleigh McEnany, Stephanie Grisham and Alyssa Farah Griffin. [Boldfaced added].

 

February 1, 2022

Let us praise the unflagging efforts of voting rights organizations: 

Screenshot of the updated LWV homepage
A Voting Rights Rollercoaster

After escalating actions demanding that President Biden do all within his power to promote voting rights legislation, the League was thrilled to see POTUS stand for the freedom to vote and call for the end of the filibuster. His shift was a direct result of all the work activists undertook in 2021.

January also saw disappointments, such as the Senate’s failure to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. During this time, we’re reminded of the many obstacles that the Voting Rights Act faced before passing; we know that our current fight, though no less challenging, will be successful.

 

 

December 4, 2021,

Yesterday, the American Bar Association, through its Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice, cast a brilliant light on the state of voting rights in the wake of the Big Lie of election fraud. 

Five experienced lawyers, each devoted to the free and fair exercise of our foundational right to vote, clearly delineated what’s at stake for the rule of law and our democracy.

Unless supplanted by national voting standards, Big Lie-inspired laws in 19 “swing” and other states will suppress minority votes. They will corrupt election administration, displacing unbiased, professional election officials with political cronies. They pose a clear risk of subverting future elections by undermining our confidence as citizens in the foundation of our democratic republic – free and fair elections.  These state actions, misleadingly masquerading as “election integrity”  laws, may tragically end our national experiment of self-governance. 

But good lawyers anticipate problems. And great-souled lawyers, like their political counterparts, are guided by wisdom and virtue. In the face of such an existential threat, panel member and election law expert Rick Hasen counsels his panel members, voting rights advocates and fellow citizens as follows:

This is not a time for despair but for activism. Our democratic republic is not lost, but it is under siege. While this may not be a time for optimism, it is a time for determination.

American Bar Association, Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice, Sixth Annual State of Voting Rights, a virtual event:

 

 

November 30, 2021

A year ago, our political future was murky and uncertain. Questions mounted about whether an exiting president would accept political defeat or foment national unrest by continuing to press the Big Lie of election fraud. In fact, Trump had already crossed the Rubicon. He was  deeply enmeshed in planning his insurrection against our Constitution. 

In carrying out his plans, and in branding as “traitors” those in his Administration and party who dared to cross him, Trump triggered the most powerful immune response of our system of republican government. We recognized what’s at stake and we reacted accordingly.

As voters, candidates for office, office holders and election officials, we doubled down on fulfilling our civic responsibilities.  As scholars, journalists, historians, news organizations, teachers and lawyers devoted to the longest-lived  form of republican democracy, we doubled down on our duty to seek and convey the truth as it reveals itself (and despite the many obstacles).

The simple idea of this site is to compile noteworthy opinions, news, investigations and analysis addressing the Big Lie of election fraud which has the potential to undermine our precious democracy.  This information is organized around basic themes, among them:

  • Who are among the top enablers of the Big Lie? How is going for them?
  • As a democratic republic, where are we, how did we get here, and where are we heading?

 

November 14, 2021

The choices for our Card Deck of 54 enablers of the Big Lie reflect the state of the Big Lie as of  January 1, 2021. 

As the number and roles of Trump enablers comes into sharper focus, through responsible journalism and Congressional investigations, we offer two observations. 

First, these Big Lie enablers continue to support the Big Lie or remain shamefully silent about their roles and the roles of others in maintaining it. (Two exceptions are Michael Cohen and, at least arguably, Ann Coulter, who called out Trump following the Capitol insurrection.  Have we missed someone else?)  Second, they will soon have company, as circumstances call for a second Card Deck of B ig Lie enablers. (Unfortunately, the addition of a new Card Deck will not appreciably improve your chances of winning a hand of our version of Blackjack).

Recent reports of journalists and Congressional investigations certainly confirm the worthiness of our January 1, 2021 choices.  These include Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Mo Brooks, Scott Perry, Stephen Miller, Jeffrey Clark, Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, Mo Brooks. and Mike Pence. Each backed the Big Lie in all of its manifestations, and now in respect of their refusal to own up to their i roles leading up to to the Constitution-sapping Capitol insurrection.

Others have sped the viral spread of vote-suppressing state laws fueled by the Big Lie of election fraud. These include The Heritage Foundation (and its political arm Heritage Action), the Republican National Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who cynically views remedial right-to-vote laws as “solutions in search of a problem”.

Meantime, our original media picks never fail to disappoint. These include Alex Jones, News Max, Rupert Murdock and Fox News commentators Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro.

And let us not forget the many lawyers who embellished the Big Lie through so many failed legal actions and maneuvers: Rudi Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Cleta Mitchell and Jeffrey Clark, among them  They may each forever forfeit their law licenses in ongoing actions and proceedings against them.

Finally, the ambitious many, aspiring for ever-higher political office, surfing the dangerous wave of the Big Lie: Matt Gaetz, Majorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem.

And now we know: Each has earned a place in the Card Deck.  

Soon they will have more company.  Prepare to welcome, among others,  John Eastman, “a scholar working feverishly on a legal strategy to prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from assuming the presidency,”  Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner;  Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, “who was deeply involved in the ‘Stop the Steal’ effort”, and selected members of the “Election Integrity” committees of the Republican National Committee who so feverishly embrace the Big Lie.

 

November 3, 2021

Our site and Card Deck are rooted in the Big Lie of election fraud and its progeny:

The January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, intended to overturn the 2020 presidential election; Trump-inspired state voter suppression laws now effective in 19 states; state “audits” and “reviews” of the 2020 presidential election, all failed except in their design to keep the false idea of election fraud alive in the minds of gullible and willfully ignorant constituents; race-biased state redistricting efforts; and endless, not-so-subtle base whistles to racism and white privilege. Even the legacy of Noble Prize-winning Toni Morrison and our lamentable national history of the struggle for voting rights are at risk.

Just 10 months following the January 6 insurrection, a team of journalists sheds important new light on the roles of former president Trump, Congressional allies and others in fomenting that historic Big Lie attack against our Constitution and the principle of free and fair elections so central to American republicanism.  

Read the findings of The Washington Post’s Jan. 6 investigation (and former President Trump’s response):

 

October 26, 2021

Matt Shuham of The Franchise says it best: “Republicans aren’t interested. If Democrats want something passed with a 51-50 majority (with the vice president casting that tie-breaking vote) they need to deal with the filibuster.”

Filibuster reform is not in the cards, folks, nor should it be.  The future of America’s longstanding experiment in democratic republicanism ultimately rests, as always, in our hands.  Ours republic will persist only if we make it so. 

So, as always, we Americans must dig deep.  Regardless of political party or faction, we must together overcome every demagogic denial of free and fair elections.  That means preserving and protecting the unfettered right to vote.

In hearts and minds, we each know this: All of our other rights flow directly from the unfettered right to vote. 

 

October 18, 2021

Now that a Trump 2024 candidacy is surely in the Cards, what an opportune time to contemplate future features of our Site:

  • A second Card Deck, a B team of Trump enablers.  To include functionaries who embraced the Big Lie of election fraud to sire ever more virulent progeny: vote-suppressing laws and election-denying “audits”, each antithetical to our democratic form of government.
  • A national map highlighting the correlation between states infected by both Covid and the Big Lie.
  • A decision tree mapping the viral spread of the Big Lie in the form of voter suppression bills and biased election administration.  
  • Surely “Trump 2024” is ill-fated, as traditional Republicans, independents and Democrats reject the anti-democratic, authoritarian behaviors of Trump and Bannon. 

 

October 10, 2021

Let the following report reflect the state of what we now know about the efforts of former President Donald Trump to subvert the presidential election of 2020.

Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Chair Dick Durbin,  Majority Staff Report

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 1

  1. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Investigation……………………………………………………. 1
  2. Key Findings …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

REPORT………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6 I. Applicable Legal Requirements……………………………………………………………………………. 6

  1. DOJ’s Limited Role in Election Fraud Investigations …………………………………………….. 6
  2. Limits on White House-DOJ Communications ……………………………………………………… 7
  3. Applicable Federal Laws Governing Political Interference with Investigations ……….. 10
  1. December 1 – December 15: Attorney General Barr Announces His Resignation After Declaring that DOJ Has Found No Evidence of Widespread Election Fraud 11
  2. December 15 – December 27: Following Barr’s Announcement, Trump Repeatedly Contacts DOJ’s Incoming Leadership About His Election Fraud Claims……………. 13
  1. December 15, 2020 Oval Office Meeting ……………………………………………………………. 13
  2. December 23 and 24 Trump-Rosen Calls ……………………………………………………………. 14
  3. December 27 Trump-Rosen Call………………………………………………………………………… 15
  4. December 27 Outreach from Congressman Perry to Donoghue……………………………… 16
  5. December 28 Trump-Donoghue Call………………………………………………………………….. 19
  1. December 28: Jeffrey Clark Urges DOJ Leadership to Intervene in Georgia’s Appointment of Electors and to Replicate this “Proof of Concept” in Other States 19
  1. Clark’s Late December Oval Office Meeting With Trump ……………………………………. 19
  2. Clark’s “Two Urgent Action Items” …………………………………………………………………… 20
  3. Rosen and Donoghue Reject Clark’s Proposal …………………………………………………….. 22
  1. December 29 – December 30: Meanwhile, Trump Urges DOJ to File a Supreme Court Action Contesting the Election …………………………………………………………………. 24
  2. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Asks DOJ to Initiate Baseless Election Fraud Investigations, Contrary to Longstanding Rules Against White House-DOJ Interference …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 29

VII. January 2 – 4: DOJ Leadership Thwarts the Trump-Clark Plot, but U.S. Attorney BJay Pak is Ousted …………………………………………………………………………………………… 33

December 29 – January 1: White House Pressure on DOJ Escalates ………………… 27

  1. DOJ Leadership is Summoned to a December 31 Oval Office Meeting ………………….. 27
  2. Clark Reveals Ongoing Contacts With Trump …………………………………………………….. 28
  1. January 2: Clark’s Plans Crystallize and Trump Calls the Georgia Secretary of State . 33
  2. January 3: Clark Reveals That Trump Will Install Him That Day ………………………….. 35
  3. The Justice Department Leadership Assembles……………………………………………………. 37
  4. The January 3, 2021 Oval Office Meeting…………………………………………………………… 37
  5. U.S. Attorney Pak Resigns………………………………………………………………………………… 39

VIII. Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………….. 43 APPENDIX A: CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS………………………………………………….. A-1 APPENDIX B: KEY DOCUMENTS ………………………………………………………………………….. A-9

 

——————

 

September 6, 2021

Labor Day 2021 – a moment to reflect on our 54 Enablers’ ongoing misdeeds and unbridled political ambition.  

For their latest machinations, play Blackjack and browse their Card Deck profiles.

Mini-Trumpers Christi Noem and Ron DeSantis, for example, are reportedly ready to add to their 2024 presidential platforms Texas-style denial of women’s reproductive rights.  These emerging platforms already shamefully support both state voter suppression laws and outlawing of essential Covid public health measures, actions which tilt elections and endanger the health of  constituencies and all Americans.

“Big Lie” enablers Sidney Powell and Cleta Mitchell continue to dig themselves in deeper. Former Trump policy advisor Stephen Miller is outed as the senior official who persuaded Trump not to provide U.S. refuge to thousands of deserving Afghanis strategically supporting U.S. forces.

Members of Congress Kevin McCarthy, Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz and Majorie Taylor Greene see the Jan. 6 Commission inching closer to the truth, fearing release of phone records leading up to and during the U.S. Capitol riots.

Meantime, U.S. Capitol insurrectionist Jacob Chansley begins his prison sentence.  Incited by former President Trump, the former QAnon shaman left a threatening note for former Vice President Pence, who nevertheless fulfilled his Constitutional duty to certify the 2020 presidential election.  Pence incurred the continuing disdain of Trump and the many state legislators and other enablers of the Big Lie, who long ago abandoned virtue and the Constitution for the pursuit of self-interest and power for power’s sake.

 

August 21, 2021

Congress recesses while Georgia’s voter suppression efforts flourish

Our Links of the Week tell the story.

Need inspiration?

Watch the award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary “All In – The Fight for Democracy” on prime video this weekend.

 

August 15, 2021

During the past week, the following facts presented themselves:

 

August 1, 2021

The Facts Eventually Present Themselves

During this past week, the following facts presented themselves:

  • Even while acknowledging there was no evidence to support his claims of election fraud, President Trump persisted throughout his remaining term of office to pressure the Justice Department “just to say ” that the 2020 presidential election was tainted by election fraud, explaining to DOJ that he “would take it from there”.
  • The Justice Department announced it will not defend Rep. Mo Brooks in a suit brought by a fellow Congressman for Brook’s contributing role in instigating the U.S. Capitol riot. It noted that Brooks undertook such actions in his capacity as a private citizen, not in his capacity as a member a Congress seeking reelection, as Brook had weakly asserted.
  • Seeking political cover in all the wrong places, Rep. Kevin McCarthy tried in vain to shift blame for the U.S. Capitol riots from former President Trump to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  McCarthy cowardly alleged that the House Speaker should have protected the Congress from rioters instigated by former President Trump, his advisors Steve Bannon and Roger Stone (both later Trump-pardoned) and the incendiary Rep. Brooks (who now likely wishes he also had received a pardon for his own anti-democratic actions).

What is surprising is that while Trump, McCarthy, Brooks, Bannon and Stone each proceeded on the basis of cold political calculation, Pillow Guy Mike Liddell appears to have proceeded on the basis of something akin to an unhinged prophetic conviction of imminent political apocalypse, this according to recent and prior journalistic efforts to understand him.

Yet each of these six men earned his place in our Card Deck for the same basic reason – they chose self-interest as the basis for their political life, not true leadership informed by an abiding interest in truth, justice and pursuit of the common good. None of them think in terms of the public welfare, the relation of individual freedom and public responsibility or our national struggle to assure voting rights for all eligible citizens. None exhibit virtues that make for a healthy Republic – the way of pursuing political aims prudently and temperately, exercising courage, aiming for fundamental justice for all citizens.

They choose instead to flatter Trump and and aggrieved Trump voters and contributors principally to serve their own political ambitions and agenda.  They make no effort to tutor or sanction their young – Rep. Gaetz or Greene or Sen. Hawley, for example.  Consequently, they sacrifice what is fundamental to a healthy Republic – an abiding interest in truth and promoting the unimpeded right of every eligible citizen to vote and be counted.

The truth?  According to election officials, courts and nonpartisan organizations, the 2020 presidential election was the safest and most secure election in modern history. The unimpeded right to vote?  Today’s Trump-inspired, Heritage Foundation-led tsunami of voter suppression laws undermines the foundation of this Republic – the right to vote and be counted in free and fair elections.

Defending and supporting that right seems worthy of our time, reflection and resources. Be informed, get engaged, and bring your individual civic power to bear in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

The health and safety of our Republic depends on you.

 

 

July 24, 2021

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Good news: The Bipartisan Policy Center declares the 2020 elections the most secure in history.

Bad news: The tsunami of state voter suppression laws continues unabated while a conservative majority of the Supreme Court characterizes an Arizona voter suppression law as  merely “inconvenient” for remotely located Native American and other voters, further degrading the Voting Rights Act.

Conclusions: 

  • Citizens and voting rights advocates must now turn their attention to getting out the vote for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
  • Journalists and historians must double down their efforts to hold the many enablers of the Trump’s Big Lie accountable for undermining the integrity of our elections.
  • Students and teachers should delve deeply into a timeline of voting rights history to appreciate the long struggle to secure the unfettered right to vote.
  • We citizens need to step up – to be better informed, more actively engaged, and more demanding that our candidates for elected office seek the common good. 
  • Need a little motivation? Try our Quiz or a hand or two of our Card Game.

 

July 4, 2021

Happy Independence Day!

Welcome to our site, which is devoted to the unfettered right to vote, the foundational promise of our democratic way of life. We hope that you will Play & Learn, Be Informed and Get Engaged. 

That precious right is under siege, as 43 states pursue near-nationwide legislation intended to disenfranchise minority and other voters. Their crime?  Simply voting against the anti-democratic ways of the former Trump administration.

The force behind such state legislation? Top enablers of candidate Trump and his Big Lie of election fraud, a false assertion of election fraud so wholly unsupported by the facts that it was fully debunked by (a) his own administration, including the Attorney General, the Vice President and all intelligence agencies, and (b) the Congress (including then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), the Supreme Court and the FBI. In other words, to enable the Big Lie is stepping way over the line. 

Our Card Deck profiles 54 of these top enablers and our Timeline:Voting Rights situates new state voter-suppression laws based on the Big Lie in the big picture of the Nation’s long struggle for the unfettered right to vote.  

Our Card Game points to the relationship between (a) the way voter suppression laws clearly change election outcomes and (b) the way arbitrarily changing the rules of Blackjack clearly changes your odds of winning. Play and Learn. 

The good news?  The politic tide is turning, as the arc of the universe bends toward justice.

Thanks for visiting our site.

defend yourvotingrights.org

“If the RNC has substantive disagreements with the Biden administration’s moves, it should air them and try to convince the administration to do better. That’s what a loyal opposition is supposed to do. But instead, the RNC conducts itself as a propaganda outlet, like a domestic version of RT or Sputnik, whose allegiance isn’t to America, but to the narrow interests of Republican meme wars. They’re calling the president “weak” and a “liar” while he’s trying to avoid World War III. Whose interest does that serve?
I suppose there’s a place for this sort of thing. But our political parties aren’t supposed to be that place. The political parties are supposed to put country over party.
Some grownup should counsel these kids at the RNC to quit their jobs. Nihilism corrupts the soul. No job is worth that.”

— Jonathan V. Last