Sunday/ pomp and circumstance

Pomp and circumstance: impressive formal activities or ceremonies (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Beefeater: Beef + eater. Prob. one who eats another’s beef, as his servant. Could also be from:  hlāfǣta, servant, properly a loaf eater. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary).
Beefeaters are the yeomen of the English royal guard, who, since the accession of Henry VII. in 1485, have attended the sovereign at state banquets and on other ceremonial occasions.
The name is also given to the warders of the Tower of London, who wear a similar uniform.


WINDSOR, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Queen Elizabeth II (center), US President Joe Biden (right) and US First Lady Dr Jill Biden (left) at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2021 in Windsor, England. Queen Elizabeth II hosted US President, Joe Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor Castle. The President arrived from Cornwall where he attended the G7 Leader’s Summit.
By Sunday night he had arrived in Brussels, for a meeting of NATO Allies. Later in the week he will meet the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Samir Hussein – Pool/Wire Image)

Queen Elizabeth II received President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor castle today. ‘President Biden and the first lady seemed relaxed, and there were no obvious diplomatic breaches‘ reported the New York Times.
Yes. Like stepping in front of the Queen. Or tweeting about the Prince of ‘a group of large marine mammals’ (‘Whales’).

Saturday/ the war between Israel & Hamas

Today the President spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned these indiscriminate attacks against Israel.
– Statement from the White House @WhiteHouse on Twitter


It just seems to me that this statement is somewhat tone-deaf. It hides many, many of the complexities of the Israel-Hamas/ Palestine conflict. Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. What about the rights of Palestinians, who have been forced with an iron fist, to live like third-rate citizens in the confines of the Gaza strip and territories in the West Bank?

The stills below are from a video posted in the New York Times, of the destruction of the Gaza Tower.

Wednesday/ President Biden addresses Congress

Tomorrow marks President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
Tonight, he addressed a joint session of Congress, with two women on the dais behind him for the first time in the country’s history (Madam VP Kamala Harris and Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi).
The president noted that 220 million vaccine shots had been given since he had taken office, and talked about his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Biden’s plans are big and bold. All told, there is a total of $6 trillion in the spending plans he has rolled out.
He says he will move ahead with these plans, even if he does not receive a single Republican vote of support in Congress:
The American Rescue Plan (the coronavirus relief bill), passed by Congress in March, $1.9 trillion.
The American Jobs Plan (infrastructure plan), unveiled Mar. 31, $2.3 trillion (paid for in part by raising the corporate tax rate).
The American Families Plan, unveiled this week, $1.8 trillion (paid for by increases in tax collection and high-earner income & capital gains taxes).

Illustration by Ben Kirchner for The New Yorker magazine, for an article titled ‘Biden’s Pandemic Plan Might Just Work’, by Dhruv Khullar, Jan 27, 2021.

Monday/ another massacre

mas·sa·cre
/ˈmasəkər/
noun

an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people


Reporting from the New York Times. Picture by Eliza Earle for the NYT.

The deadly shooting in Boulder today,  was the second massacre here in the United States in less than a week. So let me exercise my First Amendment rights, to address all Second Amendment gun fanatics.

The National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization.
Of that I’m 99% sure.
(That the NRA is a domestic terrorism enabler, is borne out 100% by facts).

The domestic terrorist is almost always a white male.
More often than not, he is apprehended ‘without incident’.
(If he were black or brown, he would be shot dead).
The real ‘incident’ would usually be, what — 6, 8 .. or 10? people murdered in cold blood.
.. with an AR15 or something similar, a military-grade weapon that should have been outlawed decades ago,
.. and that the terrorist might have purchased just hours ago, over the counter (as in the case of Atlanta last week).

Is all of this the ‘well-regulated militia’ referred to in the (should-be-repealed) Second Amendment? Not even close. It’s a guns-for-all Wild West, that enables crazy people to go on killing sprees.

Thursday/ ‘we all lost something’

‘While it was different for everyone, we all lost something, a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us’.
– President Joe Biden, in a nation-wide address today, on the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the pandemic

Tuesday/ trillions of dollars of help

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill is about to be voted on for the final time (tomorrow, in the House). Then it will be signed into law by President Biden.

Direct payments will be sent to 150 million households ($1,400 per person), $300/ month unemployment benefits will be extended through September, additional monthly assistance will be paid to families with children, and it will provide funding for vaccine distribution & for state and local governments, and also boost subsidies for healthcare.

In the Senate, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan through a procedure known as ‘reconciliation’, which enables certain budget bills to pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes necessary for a regular bill. (The Senate can only pass three bills a year through this process, and there are strict limits as to what can be in them).

If I have it right, not a single Republican has voted for the bill so far. Their anti-democratic, anti-everything, Party of Perceived Grievances should dissolve. You’re fired, all of you.

This eye-opening graphic from the Washington Post, tallies up the massive assistance that has had to be doled out from the federal government to counter the devastation from the pandemic. ‘Was this going to be the last?’ asked a reporter of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi today. ‘We will have to see’ was her reply (I’m paraphrasing).

 

Friday/ a poodle called Snowflake

One of the latest animal figures I had ordered from Schleich happens to be a poodle. I am naming the white pooch ‘Snowflake’ .. and no,  not because of the recent snow here in Seattle.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Cancun in Mexico on Wednesday night (to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, no less), leaving behind millions of his constituents in freezing homes with no electricity and no water.
That was bad enough, and Cruz returned the very next morning after a media firestorm erupted. It got even worse. It turned out that their family poodle, named Snowflake, was left behind in the freezing house.

Here is ‘Snowflake’. (Schleich® Poodle, part of their Farm World collection, Catalog Number 13917, new for 2020).
Snowflake got left behind in Houston in the Cruz’s freezing house. A security guard at the house assured the photographer that he is taking care of Snowflake.
[Photo Credit: Michael Hardy @mkerrhardy on Twitter]

Wednesday/ The Biden has landed

‘The new dawn blooms as we free it,
There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to see it.
There is always light –
Only if we are brave enough to be it.’

— National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (22), delivering a poem at President Biden’s inauguration


It’s been a wonderful day here in the United States.
We now have President Joe Biden and Madam Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Before they were both sworn in, Lady Gaga sang The Star-Spangled Banner in her Schiaparelli scarlet & black couture, and wearing the largest golden peace dove brooch I had ever seen.
She made me cry (but Garth Brooks did not).

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, as Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, holds the Bible. Harris’ purple coat was designed by rising-star designer Christopher John Rogers. [Photo by Andrew Harnik / Pool via Getty Images]
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., just before noon Eastern Standard Time.  His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is holding a hefty Bible, accented with a Celtic cross, that has been in his family since 1893. [Picture by REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque]
President Obama looked impeccable as always. As a Twitter fan noted, about ‘Forever First Lady’ Michele Obama: she did not come to play. She came to slay, with a burgundy-shaded jacket & matching turtleneck sweater and wide-leg trousers. The designer is Sergio Hudson, a Black designer from South Carolina. She completed her chic outfit with an oversized gold belt buckle, black leather gloves, simple black mask; her hair down in bouncy curls. [Picture by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post]

Monday/ it’s Martin Luther King Day

[Photo credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images]
Here is Dr Martin Luther King Jr, speaking on the Mall in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, after a civil rights march. This is where he delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

Fast forward some 57 years, and in that time the United States had  inaugurated its first black president — twice.

In 2016, though, the archaic electoral college system, and vast social media disinformation campaigns, resulted in the first white supremacist president to be elected.

In 2021, that Capitol building in the distance would be overrun by violent white supremacists, seeking to overturn the free & fair* election results of 2020.
So now there is a vast amount of work to do, to eradicate a pandemic of lies about the election, along with the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus.

*A generous characterization? .. given the voter suppression, the non-stop gaslighting of voters by the sitting president and his allies, and the damage done to the US Postal service, in order to interfere with mail-in ballots and mail-in votes.

Sunday/ the Mall is closed

The long, grassy National Mall in Washington DC is home to the Lincoln Memorial and the equally iconic Washington Monument. It fills up with people during the inauguration of a newly elected American president. That will not happen this year with Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

The Capitol building, and a large area around it, is patrolled and filled to the hilt with National Guardsmen, US Capitol Police, Washington DC police, the Secret Service – you name it.

I guess it is all a fitting end to the unmitigated disaster that was the Trump presidency.  The FBI published dozens of ‘FBI Seeking Information’ posters with pictures of the Jan 6. attackers. Several characters been marked ‘ARRESTED’ (dude with feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk; dude with horns & furs, and megaphone; ‘Baked Alaska’, a right-wing social media personality that live-streamed the scene from inside the Capitol with more than 5,100 viewers watching).

Trump is said to entertain the pardoning of at least 100 more criminals, in the final hours of his presidency. One wonders if any of those already arrested by the FBI, will get a pardon. I would hazard a guess and say they will not.    

That non-scalable fence is 8 ft high, but even so, razor wire is also being installed along its top. [Picture from Sunday taken by Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post]

Wednesday/ impeached, again

And there it is.

From the Washington Post, today. 
Trump’s Senate Trial will start on Jan. 19 at the earliest. Joe Biden’s inauguration is on Jan. 20, at which time Moscow Mitch also gets downgraded to minority leader in the Senate. Trump has no legal team, no credible defense, and the events of Jan. 6 looks worse every day now, as more of what happened is revealed. [Front page of the New York Times for Thu Jan 14]

Monday/ Article I: Incitement of Insurrection

Part of the Article of Impeachment. There is a reference to the Sat. Jan. 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as well, in which Trump repeatedly tried to strong-arm him, and then threatened him, in his attempt to overturn the certified Georgia results. One can argue that that phone call alone, is an impeachable offense. And then came the run-up to Jan. 6, and Trump’s incitement of his followers at a rally in Georgia. When the assault on the Capitol happened on Jan. 6, the Trump family were watching it unfold on TV, and cheering.

It’s Monday night, and the Instigator-in-Chief is still in the White House.
The Article of Impeachment document has been published.
The latest is that the House will call for a vote on the Article of Impeachment by Wednesday night.

Here’s MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, explaining how Trump could be ousted. The Democrats want A or B, so that Biden can start his Presidency without lengthy impeachment hearings in the Senate. If the Dems are forced to impeach Trump in the House, they may wait several months before sending the Article to the Senate. (Yes, Trump can be impeached in the Senate even though he would already be out of office).
Plan A: Trump resigns, after getting VP Mike Pence to pardon him afterwards (the way Ford pardoned Nixon).
Plan B: Trump is removed by 25th Amendment.  Not likely, but if enough Republicans stay away and do not vote on the Amendment, it will be easier to get to 2/3 from those present in the Senate to vote Trump out with the 25th. 
Plan C: Trump is impeached (again). Also unclear if 2/3 in the Senate will find him guilty. What an indictment of the Republicans: that it’s doubtful if even 17 out of 50 would honor their vow to the Constitution.  (50 Dems + 17 Republicans = 2/3 of 100 Senators).

Friday/ Pelosi to Trump: you have to resign

Letter from Pelosi’s office today. (I corrected the date for them).

It is starting to look as if Trump is going to be impeached for a second time, with 12 days left in his term.
The rats have started to jump ship. Education Secretary Betsy De Vos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger and others have resigned, possibly to avoid getting drawn into supporting Trump’s removal from office with the 25th Amendment.  First step to do this is for VP Mike Pence and for a majority of the cabinet, to provide a written declaration to the Senate .. but Pence is not going to do it. (25th Amendment removal requires 2/3 majorities in both the House and in the Senate).

So now to Impeachment 101 again.
It only requires a majority vote in the House to impeach. (The Democrats are in the majority, check).
Three House members already have a draft with one article for insurrection. (Trump encouraged & egged on the rioters of Wednesday; 5 people died, including a US Capitol Police officer).

Nancy Pelosi seems to be ready to have a vote on Monday.
Impeachment in the House is followed by a Senate trial. Conviction & removal requires 2/3 of the Senate, though. Neither the 25th Amendment nor impeachment automatically disqualifies Trump from running in 2024, but a clause in the 14th Amendment Section III can be written into the impeachment, to bar Trump from ever running again.

Whatever happens: Trump is not going to run again for president.
His Twitter account was permanently suspended today (for inciting violence), leaving himself & his 88 million followers in the dark.
He is likely going to be prosecuted for tax fraud and money laundering by New York State. He pardoned criminals, but he will not be able to pardon himself out of crimes that he would be found guilty of by the state of New York.

Wednesday/ the trashing of American democracy

‘It was like an attempted coup wrapped inside a violent riot wrapped inside some cosmetic protests on the outside’.
– Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, several days after the events of Jan 6.


It was a hell of a news day here in the United States.
It started out well enough, with news that the Democratic contenders for Senator were projected to win their races in Georgia.

At the same time, in Washington DC, hundreds of rioters had gathered by the US Capitol, and then many broke into the hallowed US Capitol building while Congress was counting the certified electoral votes.

Members of Congress had to be rushed away to safety, and could only come back several hours later to proceed with the counting. (They were still at it by midnight DC time).

The rioters took the nameplate off of Pelosi’s office door, shattered a mirror in her office and left a threatening note, and just trashed the US Capitol in general.

A female Trump supporter was shot dead in the Capitol. (Late tonight it was reported that four people had died in and around the Capitol).

So far, only 52 arrests have been made (there were many more than 52 invaders in the Capitol & many crimes committed today).
Three suspicious devices with pipe components and wires were found and were removed.

Trump issued a pathetic video (his staff had to prod him), reiterating his lie ‘the election was stolen’ and to the rioters that ‘we love you’ and that they need to go home.
Three of his violence-inciting tweets were removed and his Twitter account was locked for 12 hours on Wednesday night.

We have 14 days to go to January 20. Is Trump plotting his next attack? asked cable news anchor Rachel Maddow.

The cover of the latest Bloomberg Businessweek. Mid-day Wednesday: a hodge-podge of militia men, Confederate flaggers, Trumpers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, Covid-iots (no masks) and just vanilla idiots that call  themselves patriots, on the steps of the US Capitol building. These people think that they own the country, that they own democracy, and that they own all of us. Well: you do not get to do what you want. We still have ‘law and order’, to quote your ‘President’.

Monday/ what will Pence do?

I cannot wait (rubbing my hands together) for Jan. 20, when the Trump family and their enablers will be evicted from the White House.

Before that, though, tomorrow Tuesday, there is the two Georgia 2020 Senate race run-off elections tomorrow. Each of the Democrats has a slim lead in the polls.  (There was Trump’s subversive phone call on Saturday to Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, urging him to overturn the certified Presidential election results in Georgia. By now Trump should have been impeached 6 or 7 times already). 

Then on Wednesday, Trump lap dog and VP Mike Pence has to preside over a joint session of Congress. Sealed certificates from each state, that contain a record of their certified electoral votes, will be opened. A dozen or so Republican Senators and a 100+ Republican House members are reportedly going to contest the certified results.

What will Pence do?

Conservative political commentator and Never Trumper offering outside-the-box thoughts, on what Pence would do on Wednesday. I cannot see that happening, though. Pence is the blandest of politicians. He will sit there and ‘hear’ the ‘objections’ to the certified results. Then he will something like ‘it’s time to move on/ to heal the country’, and verify that Joe Biden has won the election. Done.

Thursday/ New Year’s Eve

Hooray! We get to erase 2020, annus horribilis that it was, and go into 2021.

There are no guarantees that 2021 will be better —but we do have vaccines now, to fight the pandemic with.

The Biden administration will soon start to pick up the pieces from the last four years. At least there was some economic help from the government this year, with more to come (the $600 checks, $300 per week unemployment benefits extended through mid-March).

Tuesday/ Christmas lights

By sunset (4.18 pm), my neighbors’ Christmas lights across the street are already switched on.
Each of these Tuesdays, I sweep up the last bit of the leaves on my front lawn (to put in the yard waste bin for pickup).

P.S. There’s a ‘Biden for President’ sign on the white picket fence on the right.
All 538 electors voted Monday in the Electoral College*, and it’s now official: Joe Biden 306, Trump 232.

*From CBS news: Electors are not necessarily bound by law to vote according to the state’s results, and there were 10 “faithless electors” in 2016. But most states have laws that nullify the votes of “faithless electors,” and the Supreme Court ruled in July that states can punish them. FairVote found that since the founding of the Electoral College, there have been 167 faithless electors.

Sunday/ Rudy joins a long list

Rudy Giuliani (76) finds himself in hospital today after testing positive for Covid-19. Giuliani is Trump’s lawyer. I don’t believe he has ever worn a mask in public.

Already a national laughing stock for his embarrassing cameo in the ‘Borat Subsequent Movie’ film, he has not let that stop him from making evermore outlandish, baseless claims about election fraud.

It’s hard to keep track of the hordes of Trump administration officials and staffers that have contracted Covid-19, but the New York Times comes to the rescue (see below).

Friday/ after all, a solid win for Biden

With very few votes still being counted, the New York Times and other news organizations now report that Biden has won Arizona and Georgia, and Trump has won North Carolina. Biden 306 electoral college votes, Trump 232.

Biden for the win: 306-232 electoral college votes. [Graphic from the New York Times].
The results from the States. Not going to lie: definitely disappointing that the margins in the red states, and esp. in Florida, Ohio and Texas, were as large as they were, favoring Trump. So these voters saw what Trump did in office for four years, and said: Yes, please! We want FOUR MORE YEARS. Unbelievable.
Here’s Biden’s win in the context of the popular (national) vote: on par with Obama 2012.  George W. Bush got his 2000 win despite losing the popular vote. Then there’s Trump 2016: became a one-term IMPEACHED President, that LOST THE NATIONAL VOTE TWICE. Might as well call it quits and move out of the White House right now, no?

Tuesday/ the time to concede is now

The election has been over for a few days now. President-elect Biden had his first press conference today. I just can’t wait for this criminal administration to be removed from the White House.

Trump & his Trumpublicans have not conceded the election.
They need to — and NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME.

Professor of History at Yale, Timothy Snyder @TimothyDSnyder on Twitter, writes in a series of tweets:
1/20.   Democracy is precious and exceptional.
2/20.   Democracy is undone from within rather than from without.
3/20.   The occasion to undo democracy is often an election.
4/20.   The mechanism to undo democracy is usually a fake emergency, a claim that internal enemies have done something outrageous.
5/20.   A tyrant cares about his person, not the Republic.
6/20.   A tyrant fears prosecution and poverty after leaving office.
7/20.   Donald Trump faces criminal investigations and owes a billion dollars to creditors.
8/20.   Donald Trump has said all along that he would ignore the vote count.
9/20.   What Donald Trump is attempting to do has a name: coup d’état. Poorly organized though it might seem, it is not bound to fail. It must be made to fail.
10/20.   Coups are defeated quickly or not at all. While they take place we are meant to look away, as many of us are doing. When they are complete we are powerless.
11/20.   American exceptionalism prevents us from seeing basic truths.
12/20.   Biden voters are wrong to see a Biden administration as inevitable. Take responsibility, Democrats.
13/20.   In an authoritarian situation, the election is only round one. You don’t win by winning round one.
14/20.   Peaceful demonstrations after elections are necessary for transitions away from authoritarianism, as in Poland in 1989, Serbia in 1999, or Belarus right now.
15/20.   It is up to civil society, organized citizens, to defend the vote and to peacefully defend democracy.
16/20.   Dance after the wedding, not before. Take responsibility, Americans.
17/20.   Republicans endorsing the claim of fraud endanger the Republic.
18/20.   Calling an opponent’s victory fraudulent risks assassination, as in Poland in 1922.
19/20.   Creating a myth of a “stab in the back” by internal enemies, as Republicans are helping Trump to do, justifies violence against other citizens, as in interwar Germany.
20/20.   Persuading your voters that the other side cheated starts a downward spiral. Your voters will expect you to cheat next time. Take responsibility, Republicans.