Under Construction B

Three Wednesdays …

The month of January 2021 was defined by three consecutive Wednesdays:

On January 6th, …

… a mob composed of anti-government militants, white supremacists, QAnon Conspiracy theorists, Trumpist cult followers, etc. invaded the Capitol Building. Tweeting, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”, President Donald John Trump had invited them to Washington. D.C. on that day … the day when a joint session of Congress met to count the Electoral Votes that had been certified by the states, the District of Columbia, and the territories.

The day arrived and the mob arrived. Donald John Trump Jr. reminded them the Republican Party is dying. He emphasized … for them and for the rest of us … that they are members of Trump’s Party.

[0:34]

Rudy Giuliani pushed the new party’s lies[1] and further encouraged the mob toward violence.

[0:33]

After Don Jr. and Rudy had “warmed up the crowd” for him, President Trump took the stage to reiterate his lies and issue the mob its final “marching orders”.

[2:07]

In spite of the obvious nonsense like “the counting should have stopped when we were ahead”, the mob was ready to go. The went with a vengeance … many with destruction in their hearts … some with murder.

[14:27]

On January, 13th, …

… President Trump finally gained the distinction that he had sought for almost 4 years. He accomplished something that no other U.S. President ever had. He became the first president to be impeached twice. Ten Republican Representatives put principle above their party’s cult of personality and voted in favor of Impeachment.

From upper left to lower right, they are Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Fred Upton of Michigan, and David Valadao of California.

They have received verbal attacks from many of their Trumpist colleagues. Some of them have received death threats directed at themselves and their families from the thugs and members of the lunatic fringe who see Trump as their leader and/or savior. Perennial Trump Stooge and Village Idiot in Training, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, recently traveled to Wyoming to rally against Liz Cheney. I don’t care who you’re talking to. Attacking someone named Cheney in Wyoming could prove hazardous to one’s political health.

Some are pushing variations of the idea that “Impeaching a President after he has left office is a violation of the Constitution”. Clause 5 of Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

The House voted on and passed a single Article of Impeachment on January 13, 2021. Donald Trump was still President on that date. You can read and/or download the full text of the article at:

https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hres24/BILLS-117hres24eh.pdf

The critical paragraph states:

On January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College. In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials. Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There, he reiterated false claims that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide”. He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore”. Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.

Clause 6 of Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Some have argued that having “sole Power to try all Impeachments” does not require the Senate to exercise that power. They have said that trying a President that is no longer in office makes a trial pointless. They are conveniently ignoring the following clause in the Constitution.

Clause 7 states:

Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Do you want someone who incited violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts to ever again hold a public office? I don’t. Disqualifying Donald John Trump from holding public office in the future is reason enough to both hold the trial and to convict him.[2]

On January, 20th, …

… in spite of the January 6th insurrection … in spite of all the whining, complaining, threats, and machinations of Donald Trump and his cult, Vice President Kamala Devi Harris and President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. were inaugurated shortly before Noon on January 20, 2021.

The Inauguration of the new Vice President, Kamala Harris, involved a number of “firsts”. Senator Amy Klobuchar enumerated those “firsts” when she announced Vice President Elect Harris’ portion of the ceremony.[3]

[2:34]

In spite of all the lies from the former administration and the attempted coup on January 6th, the Inauguration of the of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States proved once again that the Constitution, our rule of law, and the will of the People must prevail.[4]

[2:22]

President Biden’s Inauguration Address was a hopeful, uplifting call to unity and action … a refreshing reversal of the one we heard four years ago.

[22:06]

Of course, no synopsis of the Inauguration Ceremony would be complete without “The Mittens that Launched 1000 Memes”.

This next video clip[5] shows the pomp and pageantry as President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden … and, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff leave the Capitol Building.

In addition to their new duties, both Dr. Biden and Mr. Emhoff will be teachers. Dr. Biden plans to continue her work at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). Mr. Emhoff is joining the faculty at the Institute for Technology Law and Policy of the Georgetown University Law Center.

[13:49]

On the way from the Capitol Building to the White House, the Presidential caravan diverted to Arlington National Cemetery so that the President and Vice President could attend a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

[9:18]

After leaving Arlington National Cemetery, the slow-moving Presidential Procession arrived at Pennsylvania Avenue, turned on to it, and stopped.

[11:45]

After a little while, the President’s car began moving again, traveled a bit farther, and stopped again. This time, the President and First Lady got out of the car to walk the rest of the way to their new home. Their children and grandchildren walked with them.

[5:10]

Wait! What was that all about … other than making the President’s Secret Service people nervous. Let’s take another look from Al Roker‘s perspective.

[0:53]

If you listened closely, you might have heard President Biden say, “We gotta keep doing this.” To understand what he meant, we need to look back to the 2013 Inaugural Parade.

[0:33]

Al was not alone that day. During the next few minutes, President Biden stopped for 3 more brief visits.

[2:25]

The first was to say hello to reporter Mike Memoli. Mike has covered the President’s campaign from the beginning of the Democratic Primaries.

The second was to say hello to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser … and, no doubt, to thank her for the city’s hospitality and its contribution to the enhanced security brought on by the January 6th atrocities.

I don’t recognize the people in this next group. If you know who they are, add a comment. I’ll update this part of the article and credit your assistance.

Shortly thereafter, President and Mrs. Biden turned into the White House driveway and walked through the gate. After reaching the door, they paused for a brief photo opportunity. Then, they turned, opened the door, and walked in followed by their family. The Biden’s were home.

[4:35]

It should be noted that it is not normal for an incoming President to have to “let himself in” upon arriving at the White House. Usually, the preceding President and First Lady are there to greet the incoming First Family. Consider this video clip from 2017 when President and Mrs. Trump reached the White House door.

[1:05]

Meanwhile, the car carrying Vice President Harris and her husband arrived at the turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue. After about 5 minutes that were needed to move the car into position and for Secret Service Agents to make sure the area was secure, the Vice President and Mr. Emhoff got out of the car and joined their family. It was their turn to go “strolling down the Avenue”.[6] They did not walk to their new home like the President and First Lady did. The Vice President’s residence is at One Observatory Circle on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory. Instead, they walked to the Vice President’s main offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building close to the White House.

[16:52]

While CNBC was running live coverage of the Inauguration of the 46th President and 49th Vice President[7] … including all of the expected delays, PBS was running a virtual “Parade Across America”. This first 22 minute and 32 second segment starts after the President’s walk and ends just before the Vice President’s.

[22:32]

The second part runs 27 minutes and 10 seconds.

[27:10]

The last part is only 4 minutes and 20 seconds, but it’s special. It is subtitled “Dance Across America”. If you need a lift, this is it.

[4:20]

In lieu of the Inaugural Balls of earlier years, the Biden/Harris Inauguration Committee created a prime time special called Celebrating America. The program lasted for an hour and a half. I’ve cut it into more palatable segments in the clips that follow. The first one is an Introduction that provides an idea of what will follow.

[8:55]

The next segment is a short synopsis of the celebration so far … beginning on Monday, their National Day of Service[8] through the Inauguration and Parade Across America on Wednesday.

[4:03]

Celebrating Americans Who Keep Us Going

[5:11]

Celebrating Americans Who Make Us Smile

[7:41]

Celebrating Americans Who Lift Us Up

[10:33]

Celebrating Americans Who Teach Us

[6:42]

Celebrating American Inspiration

[3:45]

Celebrating Americans Who Feed Us

[5:03]

In the early evening of Tuesday, January 19th, the Biden/Harris Inauguration Committee held a long overdue memorial service for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died after contracting COVID-19.

[4:03]

Celebrating Americans Who Break New Ground

[8:00]

Pass the Mic: Inaugural Edition

[3:38]

Celebrating Americans Who Care for Us

[5:01]

Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama Celebrating America

[3:30]

Celebrating America: The Finale [9]

[10:03]

… and a Week

One final piece of the Election 2020 Saga played out on February 9th through February 13th … the second Senate Impeachment Trial of former President Donald John Trump.

As we learned in Trump’s first trial early in 2020, an Impeachment Trial is as much a political exercise as a legal one … if not more so. The Constitution provides Impeachment for and Conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors“. Treason is specifically defined in the Constitution; the meaning of Bribery is common knowledge; but who decides what constitutes “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”? Congress, that’s who. If the House decides, via Impeachment, that any set of behaviors are high crimes and misdemeanors and the Senate agrees, via conviction, no further definition is necessary.

In their overly zealous faith in the power of reason over passion, the idea of partisanship was practically unthinkable to the Framers of the Constitution … but, just in case, they wanted to make it difficult to convict and remove a President, a Vice President, or any other Federal Government official. They required a two-thirds vote of the Senate for conviction. With the unexpected help of the formation of political parties. they succeeded. From the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson in February, 1868 through the second Impeachment of Donald Trump in January, 2021, there have been four impeachments and no convictions. With the Senate split 50-50, Trump’s acquittal was practically … and finally … a foregone conclusion.

The House Impeachment Managers provided a detailed and convincing argument for Trump and his cronies being the instigators of the attack on the Capitol. Lead Impeachment Manager, Representative Jamie Raskin, did an excellent job. I was less impressed with Trump’s defense team. Carl Sandburg put a poetic turn on an oft-quoted concept of legal defense:

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”

Trump’s legal team argued that the Constitution did not provide for Senate conviction of a former President. They said that conviction of a private citizen by the Senate would create the dreaded “slippery slope“. Forty-three Republican Senators used that as a rationale to vote for acquittal. The final vote was 10 votes short of conviction. Donald Trump had earned another Presidential First: The most bipartisan vote for conviction in the history of the United States.[10]

The 7 Republican Senators who voted for conviction are, from upper right to lower left, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. In true Trumpian fashion, their State Republican Parties have criticized and harassed them for putting their country above their party.

Thus Ends Election 2020

Many Republicans in both chambers of Congress remain afraid of Donald Trump and his ever-shrinking number of cult followers. I believe they are in for a shock. Donald Trump may be the titular head of the Republican Party for now, but he’s not likely to be of much use to them. As a private citizen, he is no longer protected from criminal and civil prosecution. I wonder who will get to him first … the State of Georgia, the State of New York, SDNY, or his creditors. All have reason to bring him to justice.

The rest of us get to move on … with a new administration, a new vision, a new hopefulness, and a rededication to creating the “shining city on a hill” that our country’s founders envisioned. They were imperfect people and could not imagine what their vision really meant. In the light shed over more than 200 years, we can see better … and, we can see that we still have a long way to go. The purpose of our past mistakes … some of which continue … is to see them, correct them, and never make them again. I suspect that our recently lost heroes of Freedom are still there encouraging us.

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Footnotes

[1]
Rudy said, “… if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of.” It has gone well beyond “being made fools of”, Dominion Voting Systems has sued the Trump campaign, Rudy, Sidney Powell, and some conservative media companies for more than $1.3 billion in damages.

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[2]
It’s a good way for the leaders of the Republican Party to begin to cure their addiction to a manipulative, amoral conman, excise the lunatic fringe and domestic terrorist cancer growing on their body politic, and get back to their conservative roots.

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[3]
The three video clips from the Inauguration Ceremony have the same banner picture because they are extracts from the Wall Street Journal’s recording of the ceremony. The length of the complete video is 1 hour, 15 minutes, and 26 seconds.

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[4]
After 51 years in politics, including 36 years in the Senate and 8 years as Vice President, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. became the oldest (78) and probably most politically experienced person ever inaugurated as President of the United States of America.

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[5]
This clip and several that follow come from a CNBC recording of the whole day. The entire video is 9 hours, 55 minutes, and 41 seconds. (Warning: After about a minute showing then-President-Elect’s children and grandchildren leaving for the Inauguration, the video jumps to President Trump delivering yet another self-aggrandizing speech before running away to hide in Florida.)

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[6]
For those of you who are too young to recognize the phrase “strolling down the avenue”, it’s a lyric in the song “Me and My Shadow” made famous by Judy Garland.

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[7]
Yes, there have been more Vice Presidents than Presidents. Some multi-term Presidents had more than one Vice President. FDR had three. To make it even more complicated, Grover Cleveland had 2 non-consecutive terms making him the 22nd and 24th President. Because the Framers of the Constitution did not anticipate political parties, there was no such thing as an official running mate until after the 12th Amendment was ratified on June 15, 1804 … more than 14 years after the ratification of the Constitution. During those 14 years, the Vice President was the person who won the second highest number of votes.

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[8]
Monday, February 15th was Martin Luther King Day. No doubt they chose that day because Dr. King’s life embodied service and his day falls so close to Inauguration Day.

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[9]
In 1981, my then wife and I were both teaching in Washington, D.C. We had not voted for Ronald Reagan, but we went to the District to see the Inaugural Parade and the evening’s festivities on the National Mall. Those outdoor festivities ended with a fireworks show more spectacular than I had ever seen up to that time. (President Reagan’s California fans had a lot of spare money.)

The fireworks at the end of “Celebrating America” put Reagan’s to shame. Katy Perry supplying truly appropriate background music helps. Unless you absolutely hate fireworks, this video clip is worth watching.

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[10]
The previous holder of the “most partisan vote for conviction” was President Donald J. Trump who picked up one Republican vote for conviction on one article of his first Impeachment Trial.

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