It's time for D.C. statehood
Who says Republicans don't have a sense of humor? If you still think so, you missed this week's hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee -- where Members of Congress made the most ridiculous arguments for opposing statehood for the District of Columbia. It was better than "Saturday Night Live."
First, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) argued that Washington, D.C., can't become a state because its residents have no way of making a living. "They have no source of income," Norman declared. "In South Carolina, we have farming. In South Carolina, we have mining. The new State of Washington will have none of that."
LOL! Doesn't he know about lobbyists? The truth is, Washington lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, and bartenders make a lot more money than South Carolina's farmers and miners. And their jobs are more secure.
Next up, Georgia's Jody Hice (R-GA), who hilariously pointed out that Washington doesn't have any of the basic ingredients a state must have. "D.C. would be the only state, the only state," he bellowed, "without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill, without even a name of its own." "And we could go on and on," he added. Although, blessedly, he didn't.
Now, you must admit, that's really funny: the idea that, in the days of horse and buggy, our Founding Fathers decreed that a car dealership and airport were essential to statehood. Maybe Hice doesn't know that Washington is, in fact, served by three airports: Dulles, BWI, and Reagan National, which, just 10 minutes over the Potomac, is a lot closer to D.C. than La Guardia or JFK is to New York. With a quick Google search, Hice would also discover that Washington actually has dozens of car dealerships, including a downtown Tesla showroom.
But the prize for absurd argument against D.C. statehood goes to Zack Smith of the Heritage Foundation, who testified that D.C. residents already exercise an "undue influence" over the federal government because Members of Congress can see their "yard signs" while driving to work. Smith ignores the fact that D.C. residents would gladly trade their yard signs for the right to enjoy full citizenship, including a voice in Congress.
See what I mean? Hilarious! All worthy of a good belly laugh. Except for this: Those Republicans weren't kidding. They were serious! They only threw out those ridiculous arguments because they're ashamed to admit publicly the real reason they oppose D.C. statehood. It's the same reason they're also trying to suppress the vote today in 43 states: They don't want more Black people to vote. They don't want two more African American senators. It's pure racism.
Racism aside, there's simply not one legitimate reason to deny D.C. statehood, and every reason to support it. Let's start with numbers. Based on the 2020 census, Washington has a projected 2021 population of 714, 513 -- larger than Vermont (631,560) or Wyoming (569,513). So, the real question's not: Why should D.C. become a state? But: Why's Wyoming a state? It doesn't have a major league baseball, football, or basketball team. D.C. has all three.
When it comes to taxes, the level of inequality is astounding. D.C. residents pay more in taxes than 22 other states, yet have no voting representative in the House or Senate. Per capita, D.C. residents pay more to the federal government than any other state in the union, yet have no say in how those tax dollars are spent. As its license plate proclaims, Washington is, in effect, the last American colony, still suffering "taxation without representation."
That's not all. Eleven thousand D.C. residents currently serve in the military, but are still treated as second-class citizens when they come home. Washington has a City Council, but every act of the council, even routine budget matters, is subject to congressional review. The absurdity and danger of that lack of control was nowhere more evident than on January 6, when Mayor Bowser didn't even have the authority to dispatch the D.C. National Guard to help protect the U.S. Capitol from Trump's mob.
It only takes a majority vote in Congress to make D.C. our 51st state, and with the support of President Biden and House and Senate Democrats, there's never been a better time. For good measure, I'd like to see them add Puerto Rico, too (just like they paired up Hawaii and Alaska in 1959). But, with or without Puerto Rico, it's long past time to make residents of Washington, D.C., full-fledged American citizens. Do it now.
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Crisis at the border: Deja vu
If you believe Kevin McCarthy, Lindsey Graham, or Fox News (and why should you?), there's a crisis at the Southern border like America's never seen before: a daily flood of immigrants from Central America flocking to border crossings - and it's all Joe Biden's fault for promising to reverse Donald Trump's cruel immigration policies.
Only part of which is true. Yes, there's a surge of people attempting to cross illegally into the United States or apply for legal asylum. Yes, there's a new "crisis" at the border. But this is hardly something new. Have we already forgotten the "caravans" of thousands of "drug dealers, disease-laden communists and terrorists" Donald Trump warned about marching across Mexico from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador? Or the thousands of unaccompanied minors who showed up soon after Barack Obama became president?
In fact, a quadrennial crisis at the border is something we can count on. As sure as gas prices will spike every summer, we know that families desperate to get to the United States will test every new president, Republican or Democrat. It happened to George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. And now it's happening to Joe Biden. The only real question is: What are we going to do about it?
Let's start with what you DON'T do about it. You don't solve the problem by calling all immigrants "criminals and rapists." You don't secure the border by promising to build a stupid fence that Mexico will never pay for. Or, like Kevin McCarthy, you don't turn anyone away by staging a photo op at the border and blaming it all on Joe Biden - without offering any ideas of his own on how to fix it.
It's important to take the long view on immigration. This is an incredibly complex issue. It didn't start with Trump or Biden. It's been a problem for a long time, fueled by two realities. One, the United States is the shining city on the hill that millions of people, especially those fleeing violence and poverty, want to make their new home. But two, there's no way we can't take them all in.
There's no quick fix. The only solution, which we've known for a long time, is comprehensive immigration reform. Which requires action by Congress in two stages.
First, take care of the Dreamers. It's unconscionable that Republicans in Congress still block special consideration for some 800,000 young adults who were brought here as young children by their parents. This is the only country they know. This is their country. They're Americans in every respect but a piece of paper making it official. They have jobs, they pay taxes, they serve in our military.
Dreamers include doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, childcare providers, cleaners, business owners, restaurant workers, and first responders. They include 27,000 healthcare workers, on the front lines against COVID-19. In every poll, almost 80 percent of Americans support protecting the Dreamers from deportation and providing them a path to citizenship. Congress has a moral imperative to act now to protect the Dreamers.
Next, Congress must hammer out comprehensive immigration reform. Again, this isn't rocket science. We know what needs to be done. President George W. Bush proposed a good plan, which President Barack Obama basically adopted in full, with three essential elements: border security against illegal immigration; an efficient, humane system for dealing with legal immigration and seekers of asylum; and, as Ronald Reagan established in 1986, a path to citizenship for those undocumented residents who've lived here for many years and are now hardworking, tax-paying, law-abiding members of the community. Both plans were shot down by Senate Republicans.
No, what's lacking is not knowledge of how to resolve the latest "crisis" at the border. What's lacking, again, is the will on the part of congressional Republicans to act. The truth is, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell don't want to fix the immigration problem. They see it as their key to taking back the House and Senate in 2022 by stirring up, in full Trumpian fashion, the worst, nativist, xenophobic instincts in the extremist Republican base. Attacking all immigrants as criminals worked for Donald Trump in 2016, they figure it'll work for them in 2022.
In the end, fixing the crisis at the border is one more imperative to reform or kill the filibuster. It's bad enough Republicans don't want to govern. But they must not be allowed to use the filibuster to block action on any issue, starting with immigration.
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Beware: Republicans Want to Cancel Your Vote
Republicans are desperate. Their chances of winning keep getting slimmer and slimmer. They haven't won the popular vote for president in 33 years. In 2020, even with the Orange Man at the top of the ticket, they lost the House, the Senate, and the White House.
Republicans are in a panic. So what's their plan for bouncing back in 2022 and 2024? Improve their message? Expand their base? Get better candidates? Convince more people to vote for them? Not at all. In fact, just the opposite. Instead of convincing more people to vote for them, they're trying to make it impossible for millions of Americans to vote at all.
Under the false flag of "election reform," Republicans are waging the greatest threat to democracy in our lifetime. So far in 2021, according to the renown Brennan Center for Justice, egged on by Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud, Republican legislators have introduced over 250 voter-suppression bills in 43 states: measures especially directed at majority Black cities and areas with high percentages of voters of color.
This is no hidden war on democracy. It's on full display. In Iowa, the legislature approved a bill to cut the number of early-voting days, close polls earlier on Election Day, and reject any absentee ballots received after Election Day, even if postmarked before.
In Georgia, long the epicenter of voter suppression, legislators this week voted to end automatic voter registration, ban drop boxes for mail ballots, eliminate widespread absentee voting, and severely restrict voting on weekends - in effect, ending the popular tradition of "Souls to the Polls" organized by Black churches. Last November, Georgia legislators also introduced a bill allowing county election officials to disenfranchise anyone who did not own a car registered in the state - what investigative reporter Greg Palast dubbed "no car, no vote" - the worst poll tax since the Jim Crow era.
In Arizona, legislation is pending to curtail voter registration drives, end universal absentee voting, limit early voting, and require that all absentee ballots be received by Election Day. Two other measures, already approved by Arizona's Republican-controlled Legislature, - to invalidate ballots cast at the wrong precinct and ban anyone from collecting ballots from disabled voters for delivery to polling places - were before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.
The list goes on and on, in almost every state. And make no mistake what it's all about. It's a deliberate, diabolical, nationally organized, un-American campaign by the Republican Party to suppress the vote, especially among Black, Latino, and college student voters. Why? Because, having lost so often, Republicans believe they can't win on a level playing field. They can only win if fewer people vote.
It's an absurd, self-defeating theory first expressed by an ignorant Donald Trump, who warned Republicans in March 2020 not to expand vote-by-mail operations because: "If you ever agree to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." And echoed by a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party before the Supreme Court this week. When Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked why they wanted to change Arizona's existing voting rules, he admitted: "Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats."
How pathetic. The idea that greater voter turn-out makes it harder for Republicans to win is pure baloney. When either Republicans or Democrats lose an election, it's not because more people voted, it's because their candidate or message didn't resonate with the people.
It's ironic that while Republicans whine about "cancel culture," they're engaged in the worst form of cancel culture: trying to cancel your vote. And they must not be allowed to get away with it. Fortunately, there is an answer: H.R. 1, passed by the House this week, which would set national election standards by requiring all states to provide online, automatic, and same-day registration; provide at least 15 days of early voting; provide every voter with no-excuse absentee ballots; and make drop boxes available to return those ballots.
It'll be tough, but not impossible to get H.R. 1 through the Senate. There's no way Democrats can get 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The only way forward, as Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley has proposed, is to kill the filibuster for one purpose only: voting rights legislation - H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, soon to follow.
After all, that's one thing Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on: the more people who vote, the better for America. It's called democracy.
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The GOP Civil War Is Over
Speaking to a town hall in Berlin in April 2019, former President Barack Obama issued a warning to Democrats back home. "One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States ... we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad."
Obama was right about the political danger, but he was wrong about which party was at risk. This time, it's not Democrats who formed a circular firing squad, it's Republicans. They've been firing on each other and eating their own. In other words, they've been acting like Democrats used to. And, I must admit, it's been fun to watch!
For a few short weeks, there was a Civil War underway inside the Republican Party, Republicans fighting Republicans, over the party's future. What's the best way to bounce back in 2022 and 2024? Stick with Donald Trump? Or dump Trump and move on?
It was intense for a while. A small, brave band of Republicans - led by Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Mitt Romney of Utah - argued that the sooner Republicans moved on from Trump with new leaders and a new message, the better. While sycophants Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and Ron Johnson insisted Republicans could only win by hugging Trump close.
However, as intense as it was, the GOP Civil War didn't last long. In fact, it's already over. Republicans surrendered, and Trump won. Loyalists like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (how much Kool-Aid can he drink?) began making pilgrimages to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump's ring. Even former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who slammed Trump one day, begged for a meeting with him the next (Trump turned her down). Virtually every Republican who voted to impeach Trump has been censured by their state party. And at this weekend's annual Conservative Political Action Committee gathering, Trump's expected to seize the Republican Party throne and maybe even announce his own plans to run for re-election in 2024.
In effect, there is no Republican Party anymore. They might as well change the name. It's now the Trump Party. Which stands for - well, which stands for what he stands for: only Donald Trump - the man, the myth, the big lie - and nothing else.
Which means, assuming he's not behind bars (every day, a growing possibility), every Republican running for any office in 2022 and 2024 will be forced to defend Donald Trump. One hundred percent. Everything from his disastrous COVID-19 response to the loss of millions of jobs, to the bloated deficit, to the bloody attack on the Capitol on January 6. While Democrats can campaign on getting COVID-19 behind us, rebuilding the economy, creating jobs, and tackling climate change.
To those who love history, mark this moment. For Republicans to blow this opportunity to move beyond Donald Trump will go down as one of the dumbest mistakes in the history of American politics. For all the obvious reasons. Let's start with basic math.
His supporters insist Trump's the winning ticket. Where's the evidence? Yes, he won in 2016. But in 2018, with Trump as head of the party, Republicans got walloped, losing 40 seats in the House. In 2020, with Trump at the head of the ticket, Republicans again got crushed, losing the House, Senate, and White House.
It's actually worse than it looks. Trump not only lost to Joe Biden he lost by over 7 million votes. Biden carried the Electoral College 306 to 232, the same margin Trump won by in 2016 - which he dubbed "a landslide." In 2020, Trump not only lost the key swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, he lost the longtime red states of Arizona and Georgia - both of which now have two Democratic senators. So much for the myth that Trump's election magic. He's not.
Funny. America's business leaders recognize that, even if so many Republican politicians don't. The Washington Post reports on four investors who are exploring buying up Trump's hotels, golf courses, and office buildings because they're all losing money. "The first thing you do is you take the Trump name off them," one investor told the Post. Why? Because he's fatally wounded his brand. Both his business brand and his political brand.
The GOP Civil War's over. Republicans have decided to stick with Trump. And nothing could be better for Democrats. Nothing turns Democrats out to vote more than running against Donald Trump. It was fun to beat Donald Trump once. It'll be even more fun, to crush him again.
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The Mighty Rush Limbaugh: America At Its Worst
By Bill Press
For someone who has made a career in talk radio, once news broke of Rush Limbaugh’s death this week from lung cancer, it was hard for me to hear so many in the media gush about Rush. Count me out.
Yes, I know. Growing up a Catholic, I was taught “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” – don’t say anything about the dead, unless it’s good. But put it this way. If Bill Clinton or Barack Obama had died while Rush was still alive, he would not have said anything good about them. So, I don’t feel compelled to say anything good about him, either.
It’s not politics, it’s personal. For a couple of years, as a fellow talk show host on KFI-AM in Los Angeles, I followed “the Best of Limbaugh” on Saturday afternoons – and was forced to spend most of my time exposing his lies. Rush Limbaugh was Trump before Trump was Trump.
Even back then, Rush had a huge following. But he built it, like Trump, by appealing to the worst in people. He ridiculed women political activists as “feminazis.” When Georgetown student Sandra Fluke testified in support of congressional legislation requiring insurance companies to include coverage for contraception in healthcare policies, he called her a “slut.” He accused Michael J. Fox of exaggerating the effects of his Parkinson’s disease (just like Trump later made fun of a New York Times reporter for his disability). And when Barack Obama’s campaign started picking up steam in 2008, Trump mocked him with the song “Barack, the Magic Negro.”
Rush spared no one, not even the president’s family. Of Amy Carter, he said “she may be the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country.” And on his TV show in November 1992, just after Bill Clinton had won the election, Limbaugh famously announced that, in addition to a cute new cat moving into the White House, there’d also be a cute new dog – and showed a picture of teenager Chelsea Clinton. How low can you go?
Like Trump, Rush was the master of the big lie. Echoing Trump, he assured people that the coronavirus was “nothing more than the common cold.” With zero evidence, he asserted that voting machines were rigged to switch votes from Biden to Trump. Till his death, he pushed Trump’s big lie that Democrats stole the 2020 election. He even defended the mob that invaded the Capitol on January 6, comparing them to Sam Adams and leaders of the American Revolution. How fitting that on the day Rush died, Trump slithered out of his Florida bunker long enough to call Fox News and praise Limbaugh for refusing to accept that Biden had actually won.
But, of course, Limbaugh had already received his reward for being Trump’s lackey: when Trump unceremoniously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his 2020 State of the Union address. To see the racist Limbaugh welcomed to the ranks of Civil Rights heroes Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, C. T. Vivian, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and so many true American heroes was disgusting.
Because of the power of right-wing talk radio, I believe Rush Limbaugh poisoned the American political system more than anyone else, including Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump. The hatred and division that mars American politics today is largely the result of his ugly big mouth.
And that’s my main beef with Rush. As a talk show host, I’ve always respected the awesome power of the microphone. And I believe that those, liberal or conservative, who are given the privilege of the microphone have a responsibility to use it to inform, to inspire, and yes, to entertain. That was always my goal. There are nationally syndicated conservatives who do that today, including Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and Larry Elder.
But Rush Limbaugh was never one of them. He didn’t use the power of his microphone to inform or inspire. He used it three hours every day for over 30 years to do nothing but ridicule, divide, enflame, insult and incite. He didn’t lift talk radio, he debased it.
In fairness, however, I will credit Limbaugh for one of the biggest laughs of my life. One day on KFI, a devoted follower called Rush to warn him that I often criticized him on my program. To which he replied: “Don’t pay any attention to Bill Press. He’s just an entertainer.” LOL. To be called an entertainer by Rush Limbaugh? That’s the quintessence of being called ugly by a frog.
Goodbye, GOP; Welcome to the 'Q' Party
Maybe you remember. Once upon a time, there were two major political parties in America -- the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Today, there's only one left.
Sure, there were differences between the two parties on policy. But both were serious. Both were credible. And both were, for the most part, reasonable, rejecting extremists that threatened to take them too far to the left or right.
I witnessed that first-hand. The very first political campaign I covered as a reporter was the November 1991 governor's race in Louisiana between incumbent Democrat Edwin Edwards and Republican challenger David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. We all wondered: Would the Republican Party be forever tainted by having embraced an outright racist and anti-Semite? Not on your life.
Ten days before the election, President George H. W. Bush urged Louisiana Republicans to reject their own candidate for governor. "When someone asserts that the Holocaust never took place, then I don't believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust," Bush said. "I believe he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for." Edwin Edwards went on to win with 61 percent of the vote.
But that was then, and this is now. Today, in freshman Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican Party faces an outlier far worse than David Duke. Greene's not only an avowed racist and anti-Semite, among other outrages, but she's also openly advocated assassination of political opponents and officers of the FBI.
Yet what has today's feckless Republican leader, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, done about it? Nothing! He enthusiastically endorsed her as a candidate for Congress and has given her nothing but bear-hugs ever since. Including this week when, after a "conversation" with her, he didn't move to censure Greene, remove her from committees, or expel her from Congress. He didn't even give her a slap on the wrist.
Instead, he declared a position of "moral equivalency" between Greene and Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY). In the worst display of political cowardice Washington has ever seen, McCarthy piously promised he would punish neither.
To understand how utterly contemptible that is, consider what each is accused of. On January 13, Congresswoman Cheney joined nine Republican colleagues in voting to impeach Donald Trump for inciting a mob to invade the United States Capitol, force the vice president and every member of Congress to flee for their lives, and kill a cop.
By contrast, Marjorie Taylor Greene has openly espoused her belief in the bizarre QAnon conspiracy that Democrats are leaders of a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles who are running a global child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. Yes, she actually believes that crap.
Meanwhile, as a candidate for Congress, she "liked" a comment on Twitter that "a bullet to the head" would be the quickest way to dispose of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She also "liked" a comment that FBI agents who were investigating President Trump should be "hung for treason," accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of arranging the "murder" of John F. Kennedy Jr., and expressed support on Facebook for a plan to hang former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
As if that's not bad enough, Greene's also accused Muslim members of Congress of being part of an "Islamic invasion of our government" and argued that both the Las Vegas mass murder (2017) and Parkland high school shooting (2018) were "false flag" operations organized by gun control activists. And in perhaps her most outrageous Facebook post (since deleted), she claimed that the 2018 California Camp fire, which cost 85 lives and destroyed 200,000 structures, was deliberately set by then-Governor Jerry Brown with Jewish-funded lasers from outer space. Yes, she believes that crap.
And to this day, even though she reportedly privately apologized to Republican Members for any trouble she's caused them, she's refused to publicly disavow those statements. Indeed, after receiving a supportive call from Donald Trump (of course!), Greene tweeted in true Trumpian fashion: "I won't back down. I'll never apologize."
Even after Mitch McConnell condemned Greene's "looney lies" and called her "a cancer on the Republican Party," Kevin McCarthy stood by her. You know how bad it is, when Kevin McCarthy makes Mitch McConnell look good.
One thing for sure: Thanks to McCarthy, the Republican Party we once knew is no more. It's no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. It's now the party of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Welcome to the Q Party.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, "Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him)." His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Impeach Trump: That's just the beginning
Don't despair. Our democracy survives. Our democracy is strong. And our democracy still works. We've seen two powerful examples of that in the last few days.
First, last week, just four hours after the mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the House and Senate reconvened to fulfill its constitutional duty of certifying the vote of the Electoral College, thereby making Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States. An attempted coup could only delay, not prevent, Congress from doing its job.
Second, just one week later, the House met on January 13 to hold Trump accountable for the invasion of the Capitol, impeaching him on a bipartisan vote of 232-197 on the single charge of "Incitement of Insurrection." Nobody summed up his role in the attempted coup more succinctly than Congresswoman Liz Cheney, third most powerful Republican member of the House: "The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack."
Donald Trump will now go down in history, not only as the most unfit, immoral, vile, and disgusting human being ever to get anywhere near the Oval Office, but as the first president in history to have been impeached twice. And what should we call that? Not "the end of the road," by any means. Just "a good start."
In order to hold him responsible for an act of domestic terrorism and a direct attack against the United States, Trump's repeat impeachment by the House was absolutely necessary. Now two more steps must follow: his conviction by the Senate and ridding Congress of his enablers.
Donald Trump's conviction by the Senate should be a slam dunk. Senators don't have to hold weeks of hearings to uncover the evidence: they saw Trump invite the mob to Washington; they heard him unleash them on to the Capitol; and they ran for cover when his MAGA thugs stormed the building. As former New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie told ABC News, "If inciting to insurrection isn't (an impeachable offense), I don't really know what it is." It shouldn't take longer than one hour for Donald Trump to make history again, becoming the first president ever convicted by the Senate and banned from holding public office again.
But even that's not enough. Our democracy will not be secure until not only Donald Trump is held responsible for inciting sedition, but also those congressional Republicans who stood by him to the very end. They're as guilty of inviting violence as he is, especially those eight senators and 139 House Members who voted on January 6 to overturn the Electoral College returns from Arizona and Pennsylvania, even after the Trump mob had invaded and occupied the Capitol, forcing them to flee for their lives.
Consider what that vote meant. This wasn't just a disagreement on policy: I like Trump's economic plan better than Nancy Pelosi's, for example. This was a vote to perpetuate the lie that the election was stolen, and to undermine the most sacred principle of our democracy: that the people, not the incumbent president, nor the Congress, choose the next president. That vote was in itself an act of sedition. It was, in effect, an endorsement of the bloody insurrection that had just scarred the Capitol.
We know who those eight senators and 139 representatives are, and we know where they come from. Every last one of them should be expelled from Congress for sedition against the United States of America. If that doesn't happen, the business community, labor unions, and every patriotic American should unite in a massive, focused campaign to toss them out of Congress the next time they're up for re-election. This nation will never heal until we clean house and get rid of both Trump and his enablers. Join me in pledging to send a check to every one of their opponents.
Final Note: Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but, no matter who the new president was, I've always loved the rituals of Inauguration Day: the outgoing president welcoming the incoming leader to the White House for coffee; their ride up to the Capitol together; the oath of office; the Inaugural Address; the lift-off of the now former president; the Inaugural Parade; the new First Family in the viewing stands; the Inaugural Balls. It was all so festive and such a powerful reminder that this great democracy lives on stronger than ever. This year, thanks to one ugly man, we'll be deprived of all of that ceremony. Just one more reason to impeach Donald Trump.
(C)2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Bill Press: Prayer for 2021: Return to normalcy
At the risk of sounding like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I must admit: This is the time of year I dread the most. For two solid months, it brings out the worst in cheap commercialism: the tacky Christmas decorations that suddenly appear, right after Halloween; the corny Christmas music that blares at us from every street corner; and the countless "end of the year" lists for everything from best moments in sports, fashion, or dog shows.
All of which was made even worse this year by the dreaded coronavirus, which cast its dark shadow over every aspect of our lives: how we work, play, shop, travel, exercise, eat, drink, interact -- or not. Indeed, when you add up the public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 -- coupled with a direct assault on American democracy led by the president of the United States -- 2020 must rank as the worst, most deadly, and most regrettable year in our lifetime.
Clearly, no matter what it brings, the new year has to be better for us all. In fact, 2020 was such a disaster that we can downplay our expectations for 2021 -- and still come out ahead of the game. I don't know about you, for example, but I don't wish for historic new achievements in 2021. I'll settle for a lot less. All I want is a return to something like normalcy.
Like beauty, normalcy is in the eyes of the beholder. It may mean something different to every one of us. But here's what it means to me.
Normalcy means simply being able to invite friends over for a drink, dinner, or barbecue in the backyard without first having to quarantine for 10 days, then wear a mask, sit 6 feet apart, and don't shake hands. Above all, normalcy means being able to hang out with your family. I want to hug my kids and grandkids again. In person. Zoom's not good enough.
Normalcy means getting out of the house. To a restaurant, rock concert, opera, ballgame, lecture hall, or movie. Or just browse in a bookstore. Anyplace filled with other people. I miss getting caught up in the excitement of a crowd. We're social animals. We're meant to gather together and have fun, not hide out alone.
Normalcy means not hesitating to hop in a bus, subway car, Uber, or taxi -- and not thinking twice about jumping on a plane. We're diminished as human beings without being able to travel, see new places, and encounter new experiences. As intrepid traveler Mark Twain noted: "Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
Normalcy means getting our kids back in school. They've probably suffered more than any of us during this COVID lockdown: sitting in front of an iPad for six to eight hours a day, unable to joke, play, or flirt with their classmates, losing an entire year of school. It's not good for kids, teachers, or parents. Kids have to get back in the classroom and parents need to get back to the office.
Of course, if we need a return to normalcy on the personal level, we need a return to normalcy on the political level, also. But, here again, we're not asking for the moon, just a return to a president we can respect, even if we disagree with him. Donald Trump has debased the presidency so badly that we forget what a normal president looks like.
Normalcy is a president who does his job, not a chief executive who sits on the sidelines or prows his nearest golf course, saying nothing and taking no action, while the nation is ravaged by a deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and all-out cyber warfare.
Normalcy is a president who tells the truth, not a pathological liar who lies with every breath he takes. By October 22, according to the Washington Post, Trump had told 26,548 lies, or 19 a day -- and that doesn't count repeated recent whoppers like "We're turning the corner" on the virus, or "Biden stole the election." You literally cannot believe a word Trump says.
And, finally, normalcy is a president who obeys the law, follows the Constitution, and respects our democratic institutions, not one who does everything he can to undermine and destroy them.
I know it's a long list. But surely, that's not asking too much, is it? In 2021, can we please just get back to normal?
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One Big Thing Democrats Can Learn From Republicans
By Bill Press
Don't tell me there's no difference between the two major parties. Republicans and Democrats not only differ on policy, they also differ on tactics. And while Republicans can certainly learn something from Democrats on issues like climate change, minimum wage, racial justice, and women's rights, Democrats can learn something from Republicans on tactics.
When Republicans sense trouble, they band together. When Democrats sense trouble, they form a circular firing squad. And that's never been so true as it is today, as President-elect Joe Biden puts together his new administration.
Even cynics must admit, Biden's doing an amazing job in fulfilling his promise of an administration that "looks like the country." As Biden noted in nominating Pete Buttigieg to be secretary of Transportation: "We'll have more people of color than any cabinet, ever. We'll have more women than any cabinet, ever." Biden could rightfully boast he'd already made "eight precedent-busting appointments." And with the nomination of Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet secretary, he added a ninth.
It's a star-studded line-up. Yet, ironically, most of the criticism aimed at Biden's team has come, not from Republicans, but from fellow Democrats. It's the circular firing squad in action, starting with Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon.
Nobody can question Austin's credentials to lead the Defense Department. The only hitch is, he's only been retired for four years, not the required seven for a retired general to be Defense secretary, which means he'll need a congressional waiver to take the job. Which is driving some Democratic senators crazy. Why? Democrats joined Republicans in granting a waiver to Donald Trump's Defense secretary general, Jim Mattis. Without question, they should extend the same courtesy to President-elect Joe Biden.
Austin's hardly the only Biden appointment to come under fire from Democrats. Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken's been criticized for being an early supporter of the war in Iraq (as was Joe Biden). Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack's portrayed as the tool of corporate agriculture. Pete Buttigieg's nomination to Transportation is opposed by the Black Lives Matter movement. The list goes on.
But, of all the inside-the-tent fighting among Democrats, none surpassed the open warfare over the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Let's face it, the new head of the EPA has a tough job. First, to reverse all the environmental protections undone by Trump lackeys, the "never fly coach" Scott Pruitt and the "coal is beautiful" Andrew Wheeler. Second, to restore EPA in its role as the world leader in the global crusade against climate change.
It'll take somebody who'll hit the ground running. Somebody with a solid record of fighting climate change, experience running a large government agency, and proven ability to take on the big polluters. I believe the best person for the job was Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board. Dubbed the "Queen of Green," she was appointed head of the Air Resources Board four times by three different governors of two different parties: Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Gavin Newsom.
For weeks, Nichols was considered the frontrunner for head of EPA, until a small band of environmental zealots claimed she hadn't done enough to improve air quality in minority communities because of her support for the so-called "cap and trade" policy, whereby a refinery or power plant can "buy" the right to pollute more, but only up to a fixed limit.
No matter how well-intentioned, those critics are dead wrong. First, California's tough regulations have improved air quality for all Californians equally: rich, poor, urban, and rural. Second, while "cap and trade" is only a temporary solution, it's already generated $7.5 billion in revenue - of which $3.5 billion, almost half, under Nichols' stewardship, has actually improved air quality in minority communities by funding low-income housing near transit, providing electric buses, and phasing out diesel machinery. Nevertheless, they succeeded in killing Nichols' nomination.
No doubt, Michael Regan, Biden's eventual pick, will do a good job at EPA. It's just too bad that party infighting cost the loss of the valuable experience and expertise that Mary Nichols would have brought to the agency.
When will Democrats stop eating their own? In the end, it comes down to loyalty. That's the one big thing Democrats can learn from Republicans. Loyalty means that when the going gets tough, you close ranks. You stick with your team. Yes, Republicans can take loyalty too far. But, like now, Democrats sometimes suffer from showing no loyalty at all.
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