Kyrsten Sinema: Are you experienced?

Imagine, just now, that you are smiling your day away in Seattle and happen to come upon a bronze statue while meandering the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Not just any statue, but a statue festooned with markers of love, one that quite obviously serves as a memorial to a cherished persona. The afro’d subject may have a tie, an actual, silk tie, around its neck. Or perhaps it has been knit-bombed and is somehow wearing a panel sweater somehow attached to its torso in ways that you, not a fiber artist yourself, find disconcertingly impossible unless someone had literally stood on this sidewalk for day after day knitting the sweater directly onto the bronze. Votive candles and tea lights may be scattered round of course, though only lit for a few hours each evening. Though other times the mementoes and scattered tchotchkes are cleared away, treated as clutter, garbage to be removed by the nearby businesses who prefer a clean aesthetic. One can never be quite sure how one will encounter it.

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This isn’t a defense of politicians, it’s an indictment of the media

So, there’s an article up on Raw Story about how House Republicans are likely to impeach VP Harris and/or President Biden should they gain a majority in 2022. In discussing this fact, some people claim that elected Republicans don’t necessarily want to engage in a corrupt tit-for-well justified tat. Rather, according to retired House member Tom Rooney:

“It might not necessarily be what some of those guys want to do, but it might be what the base expects. People want Armageddon.”

The article continues:

Rooney wasn’t saying that he thinks that impeaching Biden would be a good idea should Republicans retake the House in 2022 — only that parts of his party are feeling incredibly vindictive. And that type of severe partisanship is why Rooney decided not to seek reelection in 2018.

Brendan Buck, a Republican media strategist who worked for two former GOP House speakers — Paul Ryan and John Boehner — told the Times, “We’re in an era where you need to make loud noises and break things in order to get attention. It doesn’t matter what you’re breaking — as long as you’re creating conflict and appeasing your party, anything goes.” [emphasis mine]

As the title of this post says, the fact that they’re willing to go along with a raging mob in violating the spirit of the constitution in order to preserve the privileges of their elected position and further their own power says nothing positive about House Republicans. But it certainly does say something negative about the US media landscape that “breaking things” results in the media attention that generates political power.

 

 

Lynching: An Alternate Interpretation of 1/6/2021

Professional historian of lynching and mob violence Guy Lancaster has an article up at HistoryNewsNetwork.org that interprets the mob violence of 1/6/2021 not through the lens of rebellion, insurrection, sedition, and treason, but through the lens of lynching. I think it’s a great read, although I would caution that I don’t think it’s appropriate to ignore the currently-dominant interpretive framework of 1/6/2021 as an insurrection. Lancaster’s work (at least according to me) should be additive rather than substitutive.

Why does Lancaster see lynching in the events of 1/6? Well, some aspects are easy: they were looking for people to publicly execute, AOC, Nancy Pelosi, and (not least!) Mike Pence to name just three. They had set up a makeshift gallows (which may not have been sturdy enough for actual executions, though the mob clearly had effective means for murdering others at their disposal). They were white as fuck. But there’s much more than that.

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Vice-Presidential Precedent

Mike Pence has ruled out invocation of the 25th Amendment. I could try to analyze his entire statement, and I’ll post it below, but right now I just want to focus on one sentence:

Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent.

Let’s be clear here, Pence is claiming that it would be wrong to communicate to future presidents who aspire to tyranny and the violent overthrow of our constitutional order that such a betrayal of our nation and our constitution renders one, by definition, unfit to hold the power of the presidency.

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Takeover: Movement toward justice

Quite a number of years ago, I joined with some students who had taken over the administrative building of their college. I wasn’t at the takeover when it happened, but I was asked to come speak to the people who had. It was a very odd thing, from my point of view. I was new to the campus and honestly didn’t understand the specifics of the grievances that led to the takeover, but I had been invited as a guest lecturer specifically because the student body trusted me and wanted my opinions on various topics related to feminism, anti-racism, queer liberation, trans liberation, and disability. Several of those were implicated, most prominently feminism and racism, and I think it made sense to the students to have a competent facilitator for certain discussions related to them, but also to have a facilitator without baggage, without a history at the college. I had something of an educator’s patina, but no relationship to the administration or its past choices. Thus I was invited, and thus I went.

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The ONLY Radical Idea

Republicans are, predictably, screaming that impeaching Trump is a Bad Idea™ because excuses go here. Pence literally left Pelosi on hold for 25 minutes before having an aide say that he wouldn’t talk to her. He knew she wanted to talk about the 25th. Not only had he decided he did not want to invoke the 25th, but he didn’t want to talk to anyone about invoking the 25th. Commentators, of course, are complaining that the country doesn’t need the divisiveness of removing Trump from office before his term expires.

But here’s the thing: there’s nothing Trump (or any President that aspires to dictatorship) could do that would be worse, or more desperately requiring impeachment or punishment, that could ever result in impeachment or punishment.

Think it through: Trump has engaged in a failed, violent coup. The only thing “worse” is a successful, violent coup – and that’s not worse because of presidential behavior. It’s only worse in terms of its impact on us. But in a successful coup, impeachment or arrest would (by definition) be unavailable as remedies.

So this is it: Trump conspires with a mob to kill a cop and nullify democracy itself so that he can hold executive power for (at least) four more years. Why would the Republicans & commentators be against using impeachment or the 25th for literally the worst presidential conduct that could possibly be available as a basis for impeachment or removal?

It comes down to what I have said many times. I honestly can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that this isn’t a well known aphorism invented 200 years ago, but it seems to still be something that only I say. So at the risk of self-aggrandizement I’m gonna scream it out loud yet again:

The ONLY radical idea is accountability for people with power. All else is mere reform. 

Impunity is a core value of rulers and people who think of themselves as the ruling class. But we must reject this. If we must wait until a president launches a successful coup before impeachment becomes available as a remedy, then we have, with invisible but indelible ink, rewritten the constitution to erase all possibility of presidential  impeachment, now and in the future. If we do that, the doctrine of impunity has won. The details of dictatorship may change in the following years or decades, but having relinquished the possibility of accountability for those with power, we relegate all future efforts to nothing more than reform.

We must, in this moment, demand accountability, or we have lost ourselves and the republic of the United States of America.

25th THE FUCKER NOW. IMPEACH THE FUCKER MONDAY. JAIL THE FUCKER WITHOUT BAIL.

Must Read Piece from NBC News: Republicans Predicted This in 2016, Then Got On Board Anyway

Liberals & progressives & general lefties have been screaming for years that Trump is unfit for office and that he has openly said and done things for years that should have disqualified him from serious consideration in 2016, much less the presidency over the last 4 years. Sometimes we feel like Cassandras, doomed to be disbelieved even as we tell the truth about our country’s inevitable fate.

But Republicans, too, warned the country. Nearly unanimously when Trump first entered the race the people in power in the GOP denounced him. They even compared Trump and his base to the No-Nothings of the 1850s who rioted in the capital and destroyed marble meant to finish the Washington Monument. Lindsey Graham famously declared that the GOP “will be destroyed” if they nominated Trump. “And we will deserve it,” he concluded.

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More quick thoughts on 1/6/2021 (Updated 9pm PST)

Please don’t miss today’s earlier posts on race & policing, the risks of leaving Trump in office, and some Q&A about the 25th Amendment, including whether the votes of “acting” Cabinet secretaries count.

On to the NEW THOUGHTS!

Thought 1: (12:40 PST, 1/7/2021) 

The House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving has been fire-quitted. (The opposite of quit-fired: they were told to resign or they would be fired. Irving chose to quit.)

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