A week ago President Trump, the leader of the executive branch, provoked an attack by his rabid supporters on the legislative branch and the US Capitol Building. This led to a riotous mob desecrating the Capitol and halting proceedings of Congress to certify the presidential election. As reported in last week’s Bearing Witness Trump post, the President on a stage in front of the White House worked up thousands of his supporters into a fit of anger, grievance and victimhood. He called on them to “fight much harder” for their country and “to be wild” against “bad people.” He shouted to not let the Democrats “get away with it” and “to show strength” and “you have to be strong” and there are now “very different rules” and “you will never take back your country with weakness.” He also warned them they would have an “illegitimate president” and “we can’t let that happen” and “won’t stand for a landslide election to be stolen.” In more personal attacks, Trump threatened “We’ve got to get rid of the weak congress people, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheney’s of the world, we got to get rid of them.”
And now a week later the country has passed into yet another frightening new normal, as if the one due to the Coronavirus pandemic was not enough. It feels similar to the weeks after the 9/11 terrorists attacks. But this time the enemy of democracy lies within our borders. It’s like we are in a state of civil war; one where the boundaries of conflict run through and divide families, workplaces, communities, cities, states, and of course our local and federal governments.
To provide security for the inauguration of the 46th president there are now more than 25,000 troops in the nation’s capital. This is several times greater than those we have in Afghanistan and Iraq together. There have not been this many troops present in DC since 1862 during the Civil War. It’s a surreal scene that further embarrasses and humiliates our country around the world. The city has been divided into green and red zones, just like war-torn Baghdad was during our occupation. Much of the capital has been closed and blockaded off with armored vehicles on major streets. National guard troops are seen filling the floors of the Capital Building as their only place to rest or sleep. Many were issued weapons with live ammunition after more threats were detected by intelligence services. There has been nothing like this in our country for over 150 years. And we owe all this to Trump and all those who have enabled, aided, or abetted his lawlessness and reckless behavior during the past four years. They too must be held accountable by the courts or voters before the nation can begin to heal. But before then we must all agree on reality ant truth. Will the United States of America eventually need our own truth and reconciliation commission?
The situation became so dire during the week that the Joint Chiefs sent a historical extraordinary message to all US armed forces around the world that their most important job was to defend the constitution. They further declared that Biden would be indeed the duly elected next President. The entire nation, especially state capitols, is on heightened alert, anxious that if right-wing extremists cannot conduct their attacks in Washington they will do so elsewhere across the country.
Across the country over 100 rioters, or more accurately described as domestic terrorists, have been rounded up, shaming their families and shocking their coworkers. But sadly it will likely energize members of their far-right extremist and conspiracy groups which misinformed then radicalized so many so easily. There are hundreds more being sought out for their participation. Some are likely to be charged with sedition and murder. More sorrowful images from social media surface showing brutal attacks on vastly outnumbered police, followed by vandalism of the building by mobs searching for members of Congress to take hostage or perhaps do worse.
Heads have rolled from resignations or firings among the Capitol Police whose lack of leadership failed the Congress the were to protect and the nation. More questions arise about why intelligence agency warnings about possible violence went without response, and what was the role of some congressmen and women in supporting the protestors.
As the week began Democrats quickly made progress on impeachment of the President in the House of Representatives. They are using a simple single charge that is undeniable; Trump incited an insurrection in the attack of the legislative branch of the government on the very day it was to certify election results which he refused to accept. Speaker Pelosi presented an ultimatum that if the President did not resign on his own, and his Cabinet and Vice President did not declare the 25th Amendment to remove an unfit and dangerous president, she would move quickly ahead with impeachment charges. Finally Democrats Defending Democracy without hesitation.
One week after the insurrection and attempted coup, the House formally impeached Donald J. Trump on a vote of 232 to 197. He is the only president to have been impeached twice, however, this should never have happened as he should have been removed from office after the first impeachment. Yet, only 10 Republicans broke with Trump to vote for impeachment This is just as maddening to understand as what occurred on Wednesday, January 6, was to watch. That nearly 200 Republicans would refuse to acknowledge what the President said and did when there is no doubt as he served up his own self-incriminating evidence. It was the most egregious rebellious unconstitutional act a president could ever commit in provoking an attack on the legislature branch to support a coup to keep him in power. Could there by anything more deserving of impeachment than Trump’s betrayal in not only failing to protect the country but directing an attack against it? How do you reconcile a divide between reality and delusionality that has not been this large since the lead up to the Civil War.
Democrat leaders argued that regardless of how soon Trump leaves office, he must be held accountable for his incitement of the insurrection. There can be no peace or reconciliation before justice is served in a country of laws. Several Republicans have signed on to calling for the President’s resignation or else face impeachment, finally breaking out of the extremist cult which the Republican Party has become. Even the normally spineless Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is said to welcome the impeachment effort. Other Republicans predictably said the Democrats are playing politics and instead called for unity as if Democrats are responsible for the the divisiveness that Trump has unleashed upon the nation.
Yes, of course, they now want to fast forward to peace and unity without a shred of honesty, accountability or justice being served up. This is most definitely not a conservative law-and-order value by a party always quick to call for prosecution, imprisonment or even the death penalty. Many still refuse to admit that Biden won the election, thus perpetuating the “Big Lie” like the Nazis once did. In dong so they give implicit support of those radicals who have already or are contemplating more violent domestic terrorist attacks. Other Republicans in Congress, some of them supporters of the Big Lie and QAnon conspiracies, still refuse to wear masks or even go thru metal detectors at the doors to the Capitol, both which were put in place to protect their fellow legislators. Sometimes ignorance and evil just needs to be called out for what it is and soundly defeated before it becomes toxic do everything it comes into contact with.
In some encouraging news, countless businesses, organizations, political action committees, states, cities, investors, campaign donors, current and former government officials, and newspaper editorial boards have called out the President’s behavior by supporting his impeachment. Many of them have also distanced themselves from Congressional members who supported the insurrection by calling that they be censured, disbarred, or all together expelled. Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri has become such an outcast and so shunned he is virtually a man without a state, and one with blood on his fisted hand once raised in support of the rioters.
Trump remained largely out of the public eye and uncharacteristically silent since his social media accounts were all terminated. Some conservatives blamed the tech giants for censorship. But these platforms are private businesses which can set their own policies for allowable behavior. Would a Trump hotel allow me to enter their lobby and continually yell fire over a bullhorn and pull the fire alarms to panic their guests? Regardless, Trump already has the most potent and loudest platform in the world to speak from. He could simply step into the White House briefing room on a moment’s notice to address the nation and face questions from the press. But he did not do that as the Capitol was being attacked by his supporters. And he did not do that this week.
Trump did make a fast trip to the southern border to showcase his sorrowful immigration policies and the border wall for which Mexico was going to pay. Not. There have been fewer than 500 miles of new wall built. Later in the week, under pressure from aides after being impeached, the President finally released a short video condemning the violence of the previous week. Predictably he took no responsibility for anything and showed little remorse, regret, or self-reflection. The video was filled with more lies as if no one had been listening to his constant bullying, threatening, demeaning, degrading, and attacking of others over the past four years. He still refused to create calm by telling his followers that Biden was elected fairly and that there was no massive fraud or a rigged election. His unwillingness to do this continues to fuel extremists who use the Big Lie as a reason for violent anarchy.
The Trump Administration carried out its 13th execution this week. Since Trump’s Justice Department resumed executions after a 17-year hiatus, they have now executed more federal prisoners on death row than any other president in 120 years. Hum, is sedition still punishable by the death penalty?
The Treasury Department reported that the Federal budget deficit for the first three months of the new fiscal year was $573 billion, a 60% increase over a year ago. This was admittedly due largely to fighting the pandemic and saving the economy, but it was made much worse because of massive tax breaks dolled out early in Trump’s term in office.
The White House had Cuba placed back on the State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism. This less than a week after Trump incited a terror attack on his own US government. The irony that after last week some now call for the US being put on that terror list.
As if all the above was not sad enough, the country passed 400,000 deaths from Coronavirus this past week as reported in Bearing Witness to the Pandemic. There were a record 4,300 American reported to have died from COVID on the very same day that Trump was busy inciting the riot and watching the carnage unfold on TV. The vaccine rollout is going so slow that countless thousands will needlessly die out of mismanagement which kept them from getting the vaccine until it was too late. Just like so many others have died because Trump ignored the risks of Coronavirus over a year ago, then downplayed them, then delayed an urgent response, and finally bumbled the execution.
With only one more week left, I am ever so exhausted after 48 months and 207 weeks of trying to bear witness to Trump. When I started writing this blog post in January of 2017 I absolutely had no idea of all that was to come to America. I can only hope and pray that next week’s inauguration of Biden and Harris goes off well, and brings up a new day for America.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.