Tomorrow and After

Dave Granlund

(Background music for this post.)

I do not envy Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They’ve got a ton of crises all screaming at them for attention. So many critical issues need addressing yesterday. And they’ll be slammed for every effort that falls short of miraculous. Let us all hope they succeed.

But before new business, there is old business.

Trump began his administration with a speech still called “American Carnage.” And American carnage is what he, very literally, caused.

Trump didn’t actually call the U.S. a “dystopian hellhole,” but thanks to his maladministration, it’s a lot closer to being one now than it was in January 2017. And we need to face up to what has happened over the last four years. No more sweeping unpleasant truth under rugs; no “moving on” this time. We need to face this. Many need to be held accountable.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an essay at The Atlantic called Donald Trump Is Out. Are We Ready to Talk About How He Got In? It’s a good place to start. I recommend it. But I want to quote just a little bit of it for reference.

“The FBI does not talk in terms of terrorism committed by white people,” the journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote in the days after the January 6 riot at the Capitol. “Attempting to appear politically ecumenical, a recent bureaucratic overhaul during an accelerated period of domestic terrorism created the category of ‘racially motivated violent extremism.’” But only so ecumenical. “For all its hesitation over white terror,” Ackerman continued, “the FBI until at least 2018 maintained an investigative category about a nebulous and exponentially less deadly thing it called ‘Black Identity Extremism.’”

“When the gap between ideal and real becomes too wide,” Tuchman writes, “the system breaks down.” One hopes that this moment for America has arrived, that it can at last see that the sight of cops and a Confederate flag among the mob on January 6, the mockery of George Floyd and the politesse on display among some of the Capitol Police, are not a matter of chance.

Coates is writing about something bigger and deeper than just terrorism, but I think we need to start with white supremacist terrorism before we go on to the bigger and deeper things. As I keep saying, for too long we’ve put terrorism committed by whites in a separate category called “not terrorism” or “mental illness” or “aberration,” and let it go. And the problem of white supremacist terrorism just gets worse and worse, as we keep seeing. That’s got to stop. For that matter, allowing white men to skip the trials others are put through to succeed has to stop. See also Nancy LeTourneau, It’s the White Male Privilege, Stupid.

I am pleased to see that a leader of Oath Keepers has been arrested for conspiring to commit an offense, obstructing an official government proceeding, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. Other Oath Keeper members have been arrested also. I understand the Oath Keepers are being charged with coming to DC with plans for capturing or killing legislators. This was not a spur-of-the-moment lark for them.

Also at The Atlantic, see Graham Wood, What to Do With Trumpists. Wood agrees that Trump, and anyone who took part of the January 6 insurrection, must face prosecution. However, there are millions of Trump voters who have not taken part in any insurrection or provocation, ever. What do we do with them? They can’t all be imprisoned or otherwise eradicated. “You cannot treat tens of millions this way,” Wood writes, “and that means we need to lure back many of the 74 million, including some whose brains have been pickled by exposure to QAnon and 8chan.”

Over the next few months many people will “remember” they were never really into Trump that much after all. This process is already beginning; today Mitch McConnell himself said that the mob that stormed the Capitol had been “provoked by the president and other powerful people.” Maybe he’s moving gradually toward allowing Republican senators to convict Trump. We’ll see.

That leaves us with those stuck in hysteria — of QAnon conspiracies, that Biden stole the election, that antifa will burn down your town, etc. Wood suggests creating a culture of calmness. Everyone should crank the dial down several notches.  Sounds good, but I don’t see right-wing media following suit.

We need media reform. This includes social media and news media and all the media. How do we reform media without trampling on the First Amendment? I am not sure. There must be penalties for knowlingly publishing or broadcasting lies, or at least reckless disregard for the truth, to discourage people from doing it.

And this includes campaign advertising. I swear, if Republican candidates in these parts weren’t allowed to run ads that lied about their opponents, I’m not sure they’d know how to campaign at all. But I don’t want to give government censorship power. Possibly the answer is to make it easier to file civil lawsuits against such lies, including suits against television stations that run the ads. This would encourage stations to refuse to run ads that make claims that are uncorroborated.

See also Jennifer Rubin, Legitimate media must adjust to new political realities. This is not her only suggestion, but it’s perhaps the most important one:

The media must resist the fetish for moral equivalence that makes politics seem like merely a matter of policy preference. We know politics today is about something far more basic: Do you accept reality? Evenhandedness puts the deluded on the same level with the sensible. We should not say, for example, something along the lines of Biden believes the vaccination process is in shambles. Republicans do not. Better to be clear: According to factual criteria, the vaccination process is in shambles. Trump Party members who never recognized the severity of the disease and balked at mask-wearing despite its proven efficacy will not admit the process is in rotten shape. The short version is easier, simpler and headline-ready; it is also hugely misleading.

Hold Republicans accountable. Hold Trump and Trumpers accountable. Media reform. Anything else? There’s also what Democrats need to do, of course, and I want to get to that this week.

Also: Axios has been running a series of articles called Off the Rails that’s worth a look.

8 thoughts on “Tomorrow and After

  1. What "is" the insurrection? (Present tense – it has not ended.) Domestic terrorism? Racism? White privilege? A legitimate response to a rigged election?

    Let's look at what the insurrectionists say online. If you are foolish enough to engage them (and I am) their response to the riot on the 6th has been (for me) "look at what BLM did over the summer." Please note what is missing. I'm not reading that the Trumpsters believe the election was rigged when they make excuses for the riot. No, their justification is BLM and this explains their motivation. 

    The insurrection is "about" the rise of a movement that demands equal treatment as promised by the Constitution in real life. The counter-reaction to BLM has not been to stop the violence – what offends the Trumpsters is large-scale peaceful protests demanding that city, county, and state governments dismantle the militarization of local police and that there will be individual accountability for excessive force (and no more cover-ups) and accountability at the top for any culture of racism that's allowed to flourish. 

    Regarding accountability – we need to apply a litmus test. "Do you believe the election of 2020 was rigged?" For any who say 'yes', that's the first thing that should be mentioned in any reference to a politician (anywhere – fed, state or local) The implication in any setting should be that these people aren't worthy of respect. They should not be invited to any debate or open forum – not for being Republican – but for being enrolled in the insurrection by supporting doubt in the electoral process. This exclusion from civil society is what they fear – it makes them irrelevant outside the cult. Which is what we want.

  2. “We need media reform.”

    Max feels the same way.

    I find it interesting, in that he mentions the UK has a government regulator that hands out hefty fines to broadcasters that violate minimal standards of impartiality and accuracy. My question is how exactly does that work and with our Constitution, could it be done here?

    A more interesting story about FNC knowing they lied:

    If only they could be sued into oblivion.

  3. In about 15 hours, the single greatest stain on the fabric of American history will be out of the Awful Orifice in his White (Power) House.

    It will lose all of the power it clutched to itself to protect its fragile ego for 4 years.

    If the US Senate can see itself to impeaching it with 2/3rds of of the Senators present at the time of the vote,  it will lose any pension, perks, security, and staff provided to – up until now – all ex-Presidents.

    In a separate vote, it can be forbidden from runnung for public office ever again.

    It, will be gone – but for the lingering stench, and alotta generational work!

    But what happens to the 74 million people who voted for it?!?

    What do we do with them.

    "The Deplorables?!?"

  4. I happen to like this music, the Marine Corps band playing “Hit the Road, Jack” right outside the White House.

    One of the things that happened over the last four years, is that slowly the mainstream press began calling a lie a lie. They used to give the President or his minions a free pass, until Trump.

    It’s a small thing but important nonetheless.

    400,000 dead from COVID, and yet, if it were not for COVID, I would bet Trump would’ve won a second term. We barely scraped by.

  5. It is a good thing that I did not learn much American History in high school, and in spite of a liberal arts curriculum had none in college.  If I had learned it, now it would be wrong and outdated anyway, as Trump and Co. has retroactively changed it, I now read.  I will refrain from a critique containing a massive string of obscenities as he is still, at this point in time the president of the United States and one must retain. some say, a respect for the office.  Less than five hours to go and counting.

    I read I can now go to a government website and find a report which equates American Progressives with European Fascists.  I also read that this report was paid for with our tax dollars. Say I was a high school debate team member.  I could quote this as fact, and cite the source as the 1776 Commission.  No one would know, not the debate judges nor the opposing  debate team that this "Commission" had not a single credentialed historian in  it's commission  nor was  it's report reviewed by any credible University's history department or professional organization of American History professionals.  Yet this "fact" has, let us say, pseudo authenticity of considerable weight.  Not only that  but no rules, regulations, or laws were broken getting this propaganda placed there it seems.  How would one go about getting it removed or even flagged?  

    Of course the intent of the "Report" is to provide fodder for those who chose text books to teach American History.  In Texas, this happens at the state level and has been dominated by conservative  extremists.  Let their be no doubt that major publishers know the size of the Texas market, and will skew American History texts toward this report.  In this way they can influence what is American History, Texas style, and American History for the whole country to some extent.  Thank goodness most local school districts have control over textbook purchasing, and some local control or at least the illusion of local control.  

    The report establishes many "facts" that are "politically correct" to white supremacy politics also according to the author, Valerie Strauss writing for the Washington Post.  Both should be read by anyone writing an authoritative history of the Trump administration, the textbook case of how NOT to run a government. 

    It is time to get the champagne chilled and the glasses set out.  Today has been  a long time coming.  

    Trump’s ‘patriotic education’ report excuses Founding Fathers for owning slaves and likens progressives to Mussolini – The Washington Post


  6. As funny as it was to imagine trump unable to tweet, it really burned to see him cut off from media outlets, money making like PGA because he got elected because media of all types played to his game and allowed him to radicalize people.

    Business donated and enriched him. So much enabling that should not have happened. And people are dead because he was president. No we cannot just move on . he unfortunately paved a roadway for a smarter tyrant to take and use.


    Another one bites the dust.. Wow, to think that 18 years of service just goes down the drain by being enchanted with Trump's lies. And the kicker is that Trump denounced all of his faithful minions who participated in his insurrection as evildoers, and said they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I guess it's not only the military who Trump sees as losers and suckers, it's anybody who supported him.

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