Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Today is January 6th. To those of you who have gotten within sight of a Christian church even once, that is Epiphany Day. It is the feast day in the Catholic faith in which God appears incarnate to the gentiles in the body of Jesus Christ. This day of theophany is also known as Three King's Day.
     Since the Georgia runoff elections last night that saw a Democratic sweep in the razor-thin margin wins of the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, we've seen three kings in the form of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Yes, the Democratic Party has nominally taken control of the US Senate, which means as of January 20, we will have control of the White House, the House and the Senate for the first time since 2011.
    Today was also supposed to be the day, according to the Constitution, in which the results of the Electoral College were to be counted and certified in what used to be a hardly news-worthy pro forma formality of the government. It was to be the day when Mike Pence, as presiding officer of the Senate, was to open an envelope and announce Joe Biden as the next president.
    But then something happened- The Bad and the Ugly. This morning, Donald Trump had his beer hall putsch across the street from the White House. He insulted Brian Kemp, claiming he weighed 130 pounds and, of course, claimed that the election was rigged. Before that, Fredo got up in a profanity-laden tirade and channeled his inner Kimberly Guilfoyle by screaming about transgender people having an unfair advantage in sports. It was so batshit insane that Fox "News" had to pull the plug on him. When Daddy was busy insulting Kemp, C-SPAN pulled the plug on him.
     Then, right after that, Ill Douche let slip the fat, rabid dogs of war and cried havoc, not realizing later that he'd be unable to put the leashes back on when they ran wild, occupied the master's house and began shooting people. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's see what precipitated this and caused the most serious terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11.

The Good
Firstly, Democrats took a Georgia senate seat for the first time since Max Cleland did it in 2000. In fact, they took two. With 98% of the polls reporting, Rev. Warnock received 2.245,870 votes to Loeffler's 2,180,220, giving Warnock a 1.4% margin of victory. Jon Ossoff's margin of victory was smaller, with Ossoff garnering 2,227,111 to Perdue's 2,198,911. That gives Ossoff a 0.64% margin of victory. Both of those numbers are important because they're above the 0.50% margin of victory that in Georgia triggers an automatic recount. Even though they can both well afford it, if Perdue and Loeffler want a recount, they'll have to pay for it out of their bottomless, bulging pockets.
     Both candidates were hugely aided by a record 3,000,000+ early votes cast in Georgia in advance of last night's runoff elections. Also helping their cause was a tidal wave of out of state cash (a half a billion dollars was spent on these two races alone), faithful Democratic big counties like Dekalb and Fulton (where Atlanta sits), an unprecedented African American voter turnout and, last but certainly not least, Stacey Abrams' decade-long Get Out the Vote efforts.
    In a way, last night's election results that gave the upper chamber back to the Democrats was a mini reprise of Election Night last November 3rd. Despite the best vote caging and voter suppression efforts by Republican scum like Brad Raffensberger (closing 6 of 11 early polling places exclusively in black and Hispanic districts in Cobb County alone), the voters found a way to make their voices heard and officially recognized.
    Warnock and Ossoff both ran strong, clean elections and if they attacked their opponents, they at least had the common decency to stick to the facts (Ossoff, especially, as during their last Senate debate last year, he called Perdue a crook and just last week veered into Raphael Warnock's lane to tell a Fox roving reporter that, "Kelly Loeffler campaigns with a Klansman," which was true).
   For their part, Loeffler could only robotically call Raphael Warnock a "radical Democrat" and "Socialist" a dozen times at their last debate. After getting beaten like a rented mule at their last debate, Perdue simply pulled a no show and refused to debate Ossoff, who attended, anyway, taking the opportunity to call Perdue out for what he was- a coward.
    Most inescapably for Perdue and the unelected Loeffler, whose political career is deader than Zell Miller, what hamstrung them was an effective grassroots media effort to expose Loeffler and Perdue's rampant corruption and using their senate offices as eTrade accounts. Both parttime lawmakers and fulltime stock traders (since his first and only term began in 2014, Perdue had been the Senate's most prolific trader, toting up 2596 transactions in the 2192 days he's been in office or better than one a day) employing largely insider trading information he'd gleaned from his committee assignments. He especially got sleek and bloated during the pandemic. In fact, he and Loeffler both did.
     But if any one person could grab even more credit than Stacey Abrams for changing the power dynamic in the US Senate, it has to be Donnie Dumbo. Countless times since Election Day, Trump had gone on Twitter to piss and moan like a three year-old who didn't get that candy bar at the supermarket to which he felt entitled that the election was rigged. Since low information voters like the rednecks in Georgia get all their news from Trump's Twitter feed (which is more dangerous than getting all your dating tips from men's room walls), you know that a suppressed Republican turnout was responsible at least in part for Ossoff's and Warnock's razor-thin wins.
     So, Democrats have control of the White House, got control of the Senate and retained control of the House. Say thank you, African American voters. Say thank you, Stacey Abrams. And save your biggest thanks for the walking brain stem charitably referred to as the leader of the free world, Donald John Trump.

The Bad
The picture you see above is that of an unidentified man, part of thousands who'd stormed inside the US Capitol Building today, forcing the evacuation of the Senate, Vice President and putting the skids to the electoral vote count. It may look familiar to you by now, because that's the dais of the United States Senate. Mike Pence's work space, in other words. At the moment that photo was taken, this idiot was screaming that Trump "won that election!"
     Prior to this time, guns had already been drawn by the Capitol Police who were literally barricaded inside the House and gunfire was exchanged while lawmakers and staffers were literally sheltering in place under their desks as if it was an active school shooting. It was arguably the most violent day in a federal legislative chamber since Preston Brooks nearly beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner to death with his cane in 1856 (during which Sumner had also sought refuge under his desk). It started on the steps of the Capitol Building, then they walked in unopposed, with news video footage showing not a cop in sight, as if they were the world's worst-dressed tour group.
    They brought in American flags, confederate flags, Trump flags, Gadsden flags. And guns. It was like the anti-lockdown terrorists we saw in state capitals such as Harrisburg, Lansing and elsewhere last spring. It was like the Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover in Oregon by Ammon Bundy five years ago. That wasn't so long that we can't recall the disgusting sight of the sheriff's department gingerly negotiating with Bundy and his thugs as they occupied government land and offices and were even building roads.
     Naturally, this led many on social media, including yours truly, to wonder where all the cops and hardware were. It led us to further speculate that if these white racist Nazi thugs were BLM protesters, there would've been 20 cops for every black person and there would've been surgical masks and bloody Black Lives Matter banners littering the streets of Washington DC. But today, the Capitol police were pushed back like stuffed animals until the thugs were sitting literally in the Speaker's chair.
    Both of them.
    So, how could this happen at the very nerve center of our federal government? When African Americans massed lawfully in Ferguson to protest Michael Brown's murder, when they massed in Kenosha last year to protest the shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed in the back, city police sent out riot cops. Lots of them. And tanks.
     So it stands to reason that if tens of thousands of angry African Americans had converged on DC today, the Capitol and DC Metro Police would've deployed more cops in riot gear, all their tanks, plus fighter jets with Hellfire missiles, helicopter gunships and nuclear warheads. Yet, as if passing muster on a skin color chart, the terrorists literally occupied the House of Representatives and many congressional offices. How could this happen?
   Well, here's a clue: Sympathetic rogue cops who apparently had no problem posing with the aforementioned terrorists for selfies. Another is the initial absence of the National Guard. Speaker Pelosi and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser both pleaded for the National Guard. But Trump's Defense Department refused. Trump's aides and even Kevin McCarthy for hours begged for Trump to call off his dogs and he finally did in a couple of mealy-mouthed tweets before finally putting out an equally mealy-mouthed video complaining about his election loss.
     And this anarchic chaos is threatening to go national. There's been another protest, thankfully, a low-key one, in Utah and a more violent one in Ohio in which a counter protester was beaten up by the Proud Boys. It's vitally important to keep in mind the timeline of this whole debacle. Trump held a rally across the street from the White House essentially imploring those present to do what they had to do to overturn the election results. Fredo screamed and cursed about trans people. Eric Trump had already asked the mob to overturn the election results for his birthday (And yes, they stopped their violent sedition long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" to him).
     And an hour or two later, Washington DC was under siege like it hadn't been since 1812.

The Ugly
Who are the Ugly in this sick, sordid tale of seditionist insurrection? Look in a mirror.
     Yes, you are to blame for this. You, me, all of us who did not stand up to these screaming idiots a decade ago when they were bellowing about "death panels" during the ACA debates. These morons didn't just spontaneously appear like blowflies around a corpse. These idiots that are now sitting in Speaker Pelosi's chairs and milling around the Capitol Building like brain-damaged Vikings were encouraged, in large part, by the orange blob currently squatting in the Oval Office.
     What happened today is the very delineation of what Edmund Burke had once famously said, an aphorism that we're hearing more and more these days and for good reason. Burke had once written in a letter to Thomas Mercer, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In reality, Dr. Johnson's good friend had expanded upon the Reader's Digest version we bandy about today. In 1770, this was what Burke had written on the subject of civic responsibility upon the whole in his essay, "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present":
Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other’s principles, nor experienced in each other’s talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
    Burke's message was quite clear and written in English as plain and unvarnished as an educated 18th century Englishman could get away with. And his point was that it is the civic responsibility of people in significant numbers to identify evil, confront it and vanquish it. In other words, evil is encouraged by silence, which it then construes as consent. We cannot, as Burke warns us through the centuries, allow our powers of efficacy to be dispersed. This perfectly describes our Congress and how it dilutes itself through political gamesmanship and tyranny of the majority (or, in the case of the Republicans, the minority).
    At least 152 right wing senators and congressmen had originally signed on to give the middle finger to the American voter, subvert today's electoral vote count. Ted Cruz just had time to fire the first salvo in questioning the electoral votes in Arizona before they had to lock the doors in the Senate. It's a supreme irony that the very base to which they'd been sucking up and hoping to inherit to further their own political futures turned out to be the very same people who had interrupted their sedition.
     And then they realized, only belatedly, how dangerous these lunatics really are, that when you lie with rabid dogs, you'll wake up with something much worse than fleas. 
     One way or other, whatever's on the Congressional agenda tonight or tomorrow, this needs to be seriously looked at as a teaching moment. The United States Senate, the United States House and the Vice President of the United States had to be evacuated and the Capitol placed on lockdown. Trump held a 5th Column rally literally across the street from the White House. Then he released the hounds. There are no more degrees of separation, no room for plausible deniability.
     The Republican Party needs to be put on notice starting today: That you cannot subvert the will and voice of the people, to go to war with our own government and to artificially empower a violent minority over to terrorize the majority that rightfully and legally voted for change, without there being consequences. We need to invoke the 25th Amendment immediately, if not sooner. The Pentagon went to Mike Pence, after all, for permission to deploy its entire DC National Guard force. We need to do better.
     Otherwise, we'll be seeing a lot more of this.


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