Impeachment, the Investigation, and the Senate Vote

One argument being made by Trump supporters and many Republicans is that this impeachment is all rushed, careless, wrong. The House impeached (the indictment) a week after the January 6th events, which are being called an insurrection but others are calling a riot, or protest. The action was urgent, fast, and the most bipartisan vote ever (which is not saying much, frankly). One of the issues here is that the reason to move so fast on impeachment was to get Trump from office, but the impeachment won’t do that. January 20th will, assuming peace is largely kept in the coming days. This means the main motivation to take action – removing Trump from office – will then be moot, not to mention that removing a President by impeachment after he has already left office is something that has never been done before. There will surely be legal battles over this.

I am positive that if the Senate went to trial now there would not be the 17 Republicans to convict – the immediate crisis will have passed, Trump will be gone, etc etc. Surely, too, Senators will cry out for further evidence, for an ongoing investigation to be completed. So, if he were tried now, Trump would not be convicted, meaning, he would be found innocent, or so he and his backers will claim. He will claim this as further confirmation of the witch hunt against him, and for many many people he will be right.

I believe Pelosi should not pass over the articles to the Senate for at least 3 months, if ever, and if she has already done so, then Schumer should sit on them.

There is a huge investigation going on right now. There seem to be 3 key elements. First is the allegation Trump incited this riot with his speech. This seems clear to many, including me, but this is being argued and in the end is a judgement. Nowhere did Trump or any speakers that day say enter the building, capture anyone, or kill anyone. MAYBE they only thought a huge screaming mob would cause those inside to not certify the election, delaying things. This they will argue. This may be true.

What Trump did, or failed to do, AFTER the raid began, the second element, is hugely important, and less able to be discounted. Trump did not immediately call for the invasion to stop, or call out the Guard. In fact he told the rioters he loved them. Not a good look.

The third element – was there a conspiracy to make all this happen – is most important. Rumors are flying, all of which need confirmation. Did Congressional members bring in MAGA members the day before to recon the building? Or were they stupidly just bringing in constituents to just look around? Did the rally organizer work with 3 Congressmen to set all this up, and if so, was the raid the aim? Were there Capitol Police in on the deal? Most important, perhaps, WAS the National Guard told to stand down on orders from Trump or someone in his circle? What did the President know and when did he know it? I am sure millions already believe that all this, and more, happened, but strength of belief is not a fact. Anyone so certain is just like those who believe without evidence the election was stolen. IF during the coming days some or all of these elements are confirmed, each additional element becomes evidence for any trial, evidence these 17 Republican senators will need. Without it, Trump will not be convicted if there is a trial. If he is convicted, after a trial, any concerns about Trump taking this to the Supreme Court and being found innocent are valid, but, again, if evidence exists, each piece makes it harder for the Court to forgive him.

I have always argued that when considering whether something is a conspiracy or simply a colossal botch-up, 99 times out of 100 the latter wins, even in this case here. It COULD be that this rally got way out of hand, a bunch of over zealous fans making a terrible mistake, and mark my words this is going to become the talking point in the days ahead. It COULD be that most if not all those protestors rushing into the building were caught up in a fever, blind to the outcome. It COULD be that those bent on violence, those who pre-planned those actions, did so entirely separate from Trump. This argument may be countered of course by film of clearly drilled and organized teams rushing the building, directions about the building layout, calls for death, lack of police protection, and a host of other things, but raw video and snippets of real time action need to be linked and confirmed. For example, if phone records link Trump to rally leaders, or if, say, Trump’s social media-following staff were following all those sites clearly planning violence on the 6th, that would be evidence impossible to ignore. Interpretations of what was meant by words, or inferred from nods and winks, while entirely likely to confirm for many a crime, is somewhat “slushy” in my opinion, surely more “slushy” than dots connecting pre-planning to seizing the Capitol and others to stop certification of the election.

I know there are those among us who are certain the election was stolen. For these, only a statement by Trump, and all those who voted to overturn the election, confirming that the election was fair, Biden elected, and their allegations a falsehood will start any process toward changing minds. It has been encouraging to see some commentators and officials making this arguement. I also know there are those among us who are certain this was a total plot to seize the government, overturn the election, and install Trump back in the White House based on what has been disclosed so far, but, absent clear and convincing evidence linking Trump DIRECTLY to a conspiracy, nobody else will share their view, and, even then, it is likely some will NEVER share that view, just I know there are some who will NEVER believe this election was without major fraud. The possibility exists, too, as mentioned before, that rather than a great conspiracy this was a total botch-up, with various nefarious actors and extremists running their own game, and Trump and his team too blind or thoughtless to see that words and tone have consequences, in which case this was NOT a coordinated terrible conspiracy but a classical combination of terrible security, oversight, stupidity, ignorance, cultural blindness, and carelessness.

The impeachment process has been likened to a Grand Jury event, wherein the House decision is like a Grand Jury handing down an indictment, and the Senate trial like a court of law trying the case. Insurrection is the charge, it seems. The enormous investigation now going on will gather data, and evidence, connect dots, or not, find sources, get some to inform on others, track phone logs and text messages, determine how widespread the plan was to kidnap or kill Pence and members of Congress (if there really was such a plan), and hopefully document how close Trump and his people were to the invasion – for example, did Trump’s social media tracking people (he had at least one such) track those sites where the violence was clear, the planning obvious, the intent obvious? Are there call logs or even testimony confirming that the lack of Guard presence and abundance was discussed ahead of the 6th with the intent to open the Capitol to access? Given the grave seriousness of the charge, it seems wise to gather data, develop the facts, determine just what went on, the intent and motive, all of it. Once that is done it will become clear what happened – whether Trump helped create the conditions for such a riot (bad enough) or whether the riot was part of a much larger and more sinister plan. Only then can a Senate trial proceed properly, I believe, although once the facts are developed it may well be that criminal charges, even for an ex-president, are more appropriate.

We still have to get through the next few days without blemish or disaster, but I think even Trump, now, has called for no violence this weekend. It would be best if he stated the election was fair and Biden won fairly too, and I still hope he will. But as far as the Senate trial? If you have it at all, only do it after we know exactly what happened. If there was a huge criminal conspiracy, throw the book at those involved. If it was terrible judgement and a sloppy choice of words happening while a protest got way out of hand, but not a devious plot, so be it. That is bad enough.

January 12 6pm PST…

We stand before a fork in the road, or at least that is how this feels after several days with a near addiction to news feeds, watching the events unfold in real time, hour by hour. Yesterday I argued that an immediate way to help lower the temperature would be for everyone who had supported Trump’s lies about fraud to come forth and publicly disavow those lies, under the view that somehow we must agree on a shared set of facts for any healing to begin, but this does not seem to be happening, not yet. Some are hell bent on impeaching Trump, others on blaming the liberals, democrats, and antifa for what happened. And, instead of facing what happened last week, some are arguing that if anyone is held accountable this will only inflame things further.

On the one hand there appears to be movement toward finding some kind of resolution to put this behind us, and prevent further chaos (this is one fork). Most recently are reports that McConnell favors impeachment as a way to exile Trump from the party, de-fang him, save the party for the future, and with a few Republican House members and leaders now supporting that action, this may come to pass in the coming days. Others talk of censure, or using the 14th Amendment, to make people accountable. Each hour brings further videos and reports of just how bad it was in that building last week, just how well organized portions of this were, just how inflammatory were the speakers encouraging people to go to the Capitol, just how dangerous the next few days may be with FBI reports of armed activity in DC and every state this coming weekend. So, on this fork – everyone in leadership somehow coming together to reach a solution – there may be accountability but it seems the chances for chaos in the coming days might be greater from the seditionists among us.

On the other hand, I think there is an equally good argument, maybe even a stronger argument, that this coup attempt is continuing (the other fork in the road), and will come to a climax this weekend. I say this partly because so few of those who promoted the Lie have come forward to now agree the election is over and fairly won. Some are saying Biden won – Gym Jordan for example – but still preface with the statement about “concerns” and “illegality” – ie, they continue to state publicly the election was fishy, and this only reinforces those out there who believe the election was stolen. The President has no remorse, no regret, no apology, no contrition. He continues to argue he made a perfect speech. When he said, before leaving for Texas and again at Texas, that “violence is bad” but immediately then said impeachment will make people angry, very angry, it seems he was encouraging his supporters to carry on. With no admission from Trump he did ANYTHING wrong, it seems clear his minions will try to come again to DC and the 50 states to express their rage. Will they surround the Capitol and White House to stop the transfer of power? Will there really be attacks on all the State capitols? Imagine the chaos, the violence, then. Then, will Trump declare Martial Law to keep the peace? Defer the inauguration? Stay in power? Is this the plan?

One aspect is crystal clear: whether Trump is impeached or not, whatever violence falls upon us will fall, because if he is NOT impeached he requires violence to carry the day, which suggests that no matter what happens we will have to deal with armed and angry citizens, either fork we take. Either fork, because these people have had a taste of this, now, feel emboldened, feel justified, are enjoying this.

I remember 1974, August, very well. In the end, the very end, (like, the last few days) Republicans went to Nixon and told him to leave or be impeached. I had forgotten that for most of the Watergate scandal – 1972 to 1974 – most in Nixon’s party supported him, right up to the very end. In the end his party confronted him and that is what it took to get him to leave. Mr. Nixon departed peacefully. Nixon did not have an army of militias and groups and armed believers trying to keep him from leaving office. Today, I remain entirely unsure whether those Republicans who voted to overturn the election even after the riots ended are now coming to their senses, at least as regards the Constitution, or whether they have decided, in their bones, it is better to ride with Trump to a new government paradigm, regardless of the cost.

I guess we’re going to find out.

January 11 2021 afternoon Pacific Time thoughts…

It feels as if a train is rushing headlong down a mountain, faster and faster; the brakes are smoking; the engineer in the cab is drunk and passed out; around the turn through the tunnel lies a trestle uninspected in 150 years, and the passengers in the cars are holding on tight to the wooden seats wondering what to do….As I write this it seems the Congress is soon to impeach Trump a second time, there is energy to expel anyone in Congress who voted to overturn the election after the riot ended, the FBI is reporting planned protests in the Capitol and all 50 states before the 20th, many of those who voted to overturn the election are now begging for healing and peace, right wing news outlets are seemingly more outraged about Trump’s loss of Twitter and Parler than the escalating cycle of violence and the death of five people Wednesday, and even today many members who voted to overturn the election a week ago continue to claim fraud, even knowing that not to be the case.

There are surely many things that can be done to lower the temperature, to protect our Capitol in the coming days and at statehouses around the country, to call to account as many rioters as can be found, to conduct a fair investigation as to how it was the Capitol was so lightly defended Wednesday despite all the clear warnings available on public media outlets.

But what one thing can be done, TODAY, that would go furthest to lancing this balloon of fear and insurrection that has suddenly emerged among us? This whole sorry series of events has resulted from many things, but surely the largest among them is the allegation, stoked by Trump and then all his minions for months, and especially since November 3, that this election was stolen, that Biden is not the proper new president. Millions of people now believe this, firmly. I don’t expect to see Mr. Trump on the television owning any of this, unfortunately. Nor do I expect any of his immediate minions in his family or cabinet to step forward. He is leaving, as are his minions and cabinet.

However, there is a group with a vested interest in holding on to their jobs, and those are all those members of Congress who, even after a riot that nearly killed some of them and toppled the government, nevertheless persisted in promoting the Lie that the election was stolen, something surely each and every one of these members know to be false. It may be that this coup – for that is what this was, or maybe is, a coup – is ongoing and long planned, and some of these members know this, are even part of it, but, even so, the FIRST THING that can be done to lower the temperature, remove us from the toxic legacy of the Lie, and perhaps give these members a chance to save themselves from being thrown out of Congress for sedition, would be this:

Every one of those members should call a press conference and issue a statement stating the following: 1) The election just completed was found without fraud; 2) they believe the election was fair; 3) the allegations of fraud promoted by Trump and themselves were a lie and they confirm they were and are lies; 4) Joe Biden is the rightful president elect of the United States; 5) violence and riots have no place in our system; 6) Trump should leave office at once, and 7) we must all work together from now on to help Joe Biden be successful because if he is successful then we will be successful.

I am not saying, if these members confirm that the Lie was told, they supported it, and they were wrong, that this will change anyone’s minds, but had they done this even before November 3 we would not be in this place today. This statement would begin the accountability in a direct, rapid, and clear manner, right now. I think it will help. And we need all the help we can get. If these members all did this, right now, today, I for one would be happy to leave them in office, though personally I think they deserve no office, because we have enough battles to fight right now without adding more fuel to the fire. A statement such as the one above would go a long way, I think, toward pulling the air from this toxic balloon.

Just a thought….

The Well of Time Series

Covid has delayed production of Totem for a year, which is fine, because during these months of isolation and home-bound-ness I have returned to a feeble hobby I enjoyed greatly decades ago, drawing sketches. This year, too, has been a chance to get back into the mountains for hiking, but these days I am slower, and tend to spend fewer hours a day under a pack, walking, leaving time to stop, observe, and draw whatever I see along the way. It used to be, for years, the definition of a decent hike was how blown you were at the end, how damaged, how great the pain, but age, while not removing the pain, has at least allowed enough small wisdom to be a little more conservative. Your scribe was never the brightest bulb in the room. So, hence, I have taken to drawing along the way, with pencil, or ink, small 5 inch square heavy paper sheets, easy to store in a back pack. The drawings are feeble, primitive, and reveal an unsettling mind, but they have been fun. My wife suggested, when I came back from one such hike last spring, perhaps I could draw a story with these panels, share it with our small tribe of grandchildren and nieces and nephews, or grand-nieces and nephews. This seemed like a fine idea, and so I did so, with the idea I could have a Zoom meeting with the widely scattered wee ones and tell the story in real time over the screen. Then, to increase their anticipation, my wife suggested that maybe I could send a story panel, once completed and copied, to each of the kids so when they watched the story then could also be holding part of it in their hands, waiting then to see where it fell in the tale.

This I did. It was (and is) a lot of work, hours, but great fun. I took heavy watercolor paper and cut it to fit in business sized envelopes, then drew the panels and mailed them to the kids after photographing them on my phone, cropping them, and then storing them on my computer such that I could prepare a PowerPoint slide show, but a slide show of drawings, pictures, which I then can run through, live, on Zoom, telling the tale picture by picture. The first time we did the Zoom event I hadn’t even finished the first story, but it was a way to tell the kids and their parents, my own kids and cousins, what to expect, and to get them ready for the pictures appearing in their mailbox. It is also possible to record these Zoom events, which means, I can then take the recorded tale and get it up on You Tube and send that, too, to each wee one, such that they have the story to watch again if they wish, at their pace and speed, but also available for those kids who may be unable to make the Zoom meeting.

Years and years ago when my own kids were little, at Christmas I would buy a lot of cheap – I mean, CHEAP – little plastic figurines of animals and dinosaurs and monsters and wrap them, one apiece, to the kids who would be present, usually three or four kids and their cousins, and with each tiny present was a card upon which I wrote a 3×5 chapter of a tale, one by one, such that as the other presents were opened a story was being told to all the kids, involving them. This was something that was a much bigger success than I expected. Then, a bit later, I began telling stories to my son Jack to put him to bed, when he was very little, in a crib, still, and these stories were about a young lad named Roland and him finding a hollow in a tree which was a Well of Time, a way to go into the past. I told him many such stories,all of which he has forgotten, which is probably good because I believe I was inhaling back then.

Now, fast forward 35-45 years, and it is another generation of wee ones, everything on flat screens, everything provided, and due to this pandemic everyone desperate for new material. These new stories, drawn on paper, copied, then shown via Zoom and Powerpoint while narrating the tale, have been much liked by the wee ones, whose minds are perhaps s twisted as my own.

Then, in November, one of the kids, the oldest one, actually, Ollie, sends me a drawing he has made and says, maybe you can put this in your next story, and this seemed like a fine idea, so I solicited drawings from all the other kids, whatever they wished, and then drew a story which included their characters and drawings, too. This was even more work, but great fun, great fun.

So it seems that just as I have finished one series, the Strong Heart Series, three books about the Pacific Northwest, ancient history, an ornery young girl and her companions, I have now embarked on another: The Well of Time series. This blog post here was started years ago simply as a great place to store the stuff I enjoyed and had fun with, and if someone gets into it and enjoys it, fine. Now the Well of Time tales, those done so far, are on this blog too, on the right hand side, available to anyone who wants to watch them.

When I finished Totem I knew I had completed the first series, in three tales. I suspect the Well of Time tales might carry on a bit longer. I would say, as far as the pandemic goes, there could have been many worse ways to pass the time.

Lost Causes…..

I joined the ship at Port Newark, age 65, Ordinary Seaman, 8 to 12 watch, September, 2012. We left New York to run down the coast before heading east through the Suez Canal to Singapore, a 70 day round trip. Our first stop was Charleston, South Carolina, a place I had visited 38 years earlier when taking a swordfish boat from New England to the Gulf for a bootleg spring fishery. Now, coming in to Charleston, my duty was on the bow, with the bosun and the second mate, to assist in throwing lines once we reached the dock.

It was a cold dark dawn, before sunrise, and the second mate, Roy, nearly my age and about to retire, waved an arm toward Charleston. “It started right here,” he told me. “The War of Northern Aggression.” I had heard the conflict reported as the Civil War, or the War Between the States, but the War of Northern Aggression was new to me. He explained, happy to teach, and I listened as we ghosted across the dark water, chilly, the cold air flowing across the bow. In his telling, the conflict happened because the Northern States, jealous of the more efficient southern plantations, chose to invade the south and stamp out its competition. The war was not about slavery, not at all. It was an unprovoked attack on the southern culture and way of life, never acknowledged, and intensified even today with demands to remove statues and provide reparations, all to continue the humiliation. I knew enough to keep my mouth shut, not argue. Roy was not someone to be argued with. He was my most direct and up-close encounter with a Lost Cause adherent, and I could see its power, its longing, its righteous victim-hood.

The Civil War ended 155 and more years ago. It is said history is written by the winners, and the North won, as did the North’s reality, but throughout these 155 years another reality has been suggested, another interpretation of history – the great “Lost Cause” – and while it may be untrue and false, it is believed true by millions. I think we are now seeing, today, how, when facts and belief are presented, some times strength of belief trumps facts, because, even if the facts are true, if most people don’t believe them, then what use is that truth?

I see another Lost Cause growing right before my eyes, before all of us. This is not about slavery, or the south. Instead, it is about the election that just took place. Based on 50 state elections boards, the Department of Homeland Security, over 35 lawsuits, and all the norms of recent elections counting and projections and calling, the election is over, the result very clear. This was an election when both the popular and electoral vote fell for the same candidate, and the margin was large. Yet, those on the losing side, convinced the only fair result is the result where they prevail, and buttressed by no evidence but many allegations, are now choosing to believe the election has been stolen. They have been disenfranchised, and robbed, and victimized, crushed by a vast conspiracy that includes the Democrats, poll workers in at least 6 states, Venezuela, Cuba, China, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, the FBI, deep state judges, a voting machine manufacturer and another software provider, and all members of the mainstream media. Further, this conspiracy has been so clever and secret that nobody – not the 900,000 poll workers across the country, not over 35 judges, not the 50 state elections boards – has seen it.

This is going to be the new, and next, Lost Cause – a stolen election, a vast cabal of deep state actors, the media, elites – conspiring to keep their thumb on the throat of the true patriots, the real Americans, who should have won in a landslide, who had been told they would win in a landslide, and who have now been robbed.

They were told for months mail-in voting was subject to fraud, to vote in person. They were told again and again to go to the poll booth on Election day, and they did. This year there has been a great plague on the land, keeping people isolated, and even this plague has become politicized, such that those who chose to vote in person felt the plague was a liberal hoax, and those who considered the plague real chose to mail in their ballots. Thus, and this was widely reported in the weeks before the election, it would be the case that on election night the results would show one candidate ahead, from the in-person ballots, but then the other would come back and even move ahead as the mail-in votes were counted. This “shift” was exacerbated because some states – “Red” states, mostly – decided to hold off counting of mail-in ballots until the day of election. It was widely understood, therefore, that the mail-in ballots would be greatly in favor of one candidate, the challenger, and this is what happened. This was predicted. Now, however, that change in vote totals appears, to those of the Lost Cause, suspicious, unnatural, dishonest. Recounts have been demanded, lawsuits filed. The recounts have supported the initial results. The lawsuits have failed. Now, therefore, the judges are considered corrupt. It seems even the Department of Justice, long beneath a supporter of the President, must be in on the deception as well, for, not having indicted or charged anyone with voter fraud, the Lost Cause members refuse to see a lack of voter fraud. Instead, they see see the deep state, and a conspiracy.

Yet the new Lost Cause has only become more vibrant, more romantic, increasing in feeling and depth of emotion as court cases fail, as the real evidence continues to reaffirm the election results. There seems to be no group, no individual, within that population who supported the losing candidate willing to come forth and, as some would say, “call bullshit.”

Where is today’s Margaret Chase Smith? Where are the Republican Senators in favor of democracy instead of power? In 1974 it was Republicans who called bullshit on Mr. Nixon’s actions. Mrs. Smith punctured the McCarthy balloon in the early 1950s.

Absent such push back, the Lost Cause now being manufactured will become dangerous. Millions of people, feeling disenfranchised, will now feel victimized as well, unjustly deprived of their desire. Lacking evidence of fraud, they nevertheless believe, without evidence, “their” election has been stolen because their leader and his minions tell them so. It is doubtful they will listen to the other side, the winning side, for evidence. A very few among them, courageous, principled state election officials of their party, have called bullshit, and continue to stand tall, but where are their moral leaders? Their principled conservative spokesmen and women? Where?

Absent urgent and strong push back, this new Lost Cause, like the earlier great Lost Cause, stands to infect the future for decades.

Voting – a thought experiment

One, because of the pandemic people were encouraged to vote early and by mail. Democrats largely believed the pandemic was real and chose to vote by mail. President Trump told his followers mail-in voting was wrong, and not to vote by mail but in person.  This happened. Three swing states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, did not start counting mail-in ballots until the day before or election day, unlike other states recording mail-in ballots on arrival (mostly). Because of the pandemic ten times more people voted by mail than ever before. This is why the mail-in count was so overwhelmingly in favor of Biden and why the lead changed as the votes were counted.  

Two, a deep conspiracy involving 10 cities, Hugo Chavez, a voting machine manufacturer, China, Cuba, the Clinton Foundation, George Soros, and perhaps even the FBI, was effectively organized to fabricate millions of false mail-in votes, despite 50 state secretaries of state overseeing state election boards, the Homeland Security Agency and the Cyber Crime Division, the FBI, and (at latest count) 33 of 35 judges being unable to find any fraud (and the other two rulings did not concern fraud).   This conspiracy, entirely undetected and invisible, illegally changed the mail-in ballot totals to throw the election to Biden.

What do you think?