A Quick Ramble

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Somehow it’s been three weeks since my last confession, I mean, post. These days I lose track of time a lot. In fact, I constantly have to check the calendar to see what day it is, and even, sometimes, what month. To be honest, my life has become rather a blur. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still before the jury.

Yeah, I know. Everyone else is busy, so I should stop whining. I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I had a normal 9 to 5 job on top of everything else. I know my definition of swamped might not match up with others’ definition. But still. Well, you get it. A quick ramble of what I’ve been up to when I’m not writing for this blog.

I’m writing a book. The book I’ve been researching and writing in my mind for years is finally getting typed onto paper, or at least the computer screen. As of this morning I’ve finished Chapters 1 through 11 and a little way into 12, of what will be 14 chapters plus a still unwritten Introduction and Epilogue. And a few photos that I still need to dig up. The manuscript is due to the publisher by June 1st. My intention had been to finish the draft by May 1st to give me time to revise, rewrite, and reconsider why I took this project on, but I’m a bit behind.

There are four other books (or is it five) in various stages of writing. Which ones I finish, and in what order, remains to be seen. Once the book under contract (above) is finished, I’ll kick over into trying to finish one of the books in progress. Oh, and get the marketing campaign for (above) book off the ground for an expected February 2022 release.

And start researching the next book I want to write.

Somehow, I’m still reading. I had been reading 100+ books a year but cut that back to 75 in both 2019 and 2020 (both of which I exceeded). My goal for 2021 is to read only 50 books because, well, see “writing” above. So far I’m on track.

Combining the reading and writing is book reviews. I write two book reviews per quarter for the Lincoln Group of DC. I’ve written three book reviews for the Lincoln Herald. I occasionally write book reviews for other venues, although I’m holding back until the book (above) is finished. Yesterday I received a request to read a new Lincoln book, which they will send me, and write a review for the aforementioned Herald. Another publisher says they are sending me a book to review for The Lincolnian newsletter, although I haven’t received it yet.

I’m on the book award committee of the Abraham Lincoln Institute. Sometime by the summer I’ll start receiving books to read and evaluate for our annual award. Last year I received around 18 books; the previous year it was only a dozen, so I’m not sure how many I’ll receive this year.

As long as we’re talking about the Abraham Lincoln Institute (aka, ALI), I just became Treasurer for the organization, which also means becoming part of the Executive Committee that makes most of the decisions. Following the “trial by fire” method of acclimation, this happened literally the same week we started our annual symposium series (virtual again this year), which means I’ll immediately have to write checks out to eight separate speakers. Since it’s tax season, I also have to file nonprofit organization tax exemption forms. And pay the website vendor. And open a new account for a new scholarship fund we’re about to start. And figure out where to store the files in my house.

The storage thing is no small matter. My house already would not qualify for any of these “minimalist” magazine spreads, especially when it comes to books. Yesterday added to that in a big way. Two long-time members of the Lincoln Group of DC (aka, LGDC) are offloading their hoards of LGDC books and miscellany. One of them dropped by yesterday with a car full of books (which was fairly accurately described as “approximately 4′ x 4′ x 4′”), which I recall from my railsplitter days as half a cord. They are now in my garage. My car is relegated to the driveway. The other member is still cataloging their stash (plus some large portion of another 100 in their personal book collection to be donated to LGDC), so that will join the stack. Maybe I’ll have a full cord! The member yesterday said they had been storing books, which are continually augmented with new donations, for 20 years. No way these are clogging up my garage for 20 years; the goal is to get them sold off and/or donated to schools or wherever they can meet our educational goals rather than simply take up space. Which means I’ll have to figure out how to do that.

Okay, deep breath. We’re barely getting started.

ALI isn’t the only organization where I’m taking on executive duties. The same week I picked up the checkbook I find out that the current LGDC President is moving out of the area, which means I’ll be taking on the presidential duties a year before I expected. I’ve been the Vice President for Outreach and Education for a while and highly active in the group, so this will be on top of my normal duties. Part of those “normal” duties has been to develop a long-term outreach plan that we’ve only barely begun to solidify and implement. Next year is also the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial, so we’ll be heavily involved in related activities. And now that will fall to me and the LGDC Board.

I’ve also been highly active providing content for the new LGDC website, Lincolnian.org. The site itself is still a work in progress. The outgoing president has indicated he wants to stay involved in the group in whatever way is possible from two time zones away; one way is to keep working with the web designer to get it fully functional, a problem exacerbated by the old provider. Our newsletter editor is now also the website editor-in-chief and there is a small (three-person) team of writers (jncluding me), which should help spread out the work.

Oh, then there is this Hot White Snow blog and the blog on my author website, http://www.davidjkent-writer.com.

Let’s see, anything else?

Oh right. Three LGDC members (yes, including myself), and organized by another LGDC member, are teaming up with the Illinois State Society for a panel on “why we honor Abraham Lincoln.” The panel is designed to inform the discussion on Chicago’s recent decision to evaluate the appropriateness of 41 historical statues, including 5 Lincoln statues. The two issues most often mentioned to question honoring Lincoln are treatment of Native Americans and the adequateness of emancipation. I’ll be handling the Native American question, which I’ve had to become conversant enough on to discuss, reminiscent of my consulting days where we became experts overnight, only to have to be expert on something totally different overnight the next week. In any case, the program will be recorded and made available to the Chicago Statue Commission, as well as relevant organizations and educational institutions.

We’re also in discussions to develop a four-part course on Lincoln for SCORE in the fall.

Okay, that’s enough. There’s more, but this has been a long enough ramble.

Plus I need to rush to the post office to ship copies of my previous Lincoln book I sold on eBay, then come back home to do the ALI tax forms and write checks, then work on Chapter 12, then….

Why does Emerson, Lake & Palmer and “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends” spring to mind?

Next….

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

To My Fellow White People re: Anti-Asian Violence

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I am white. Male. Raised Catholic. We must take responsibility for our actions.

Much of the news coverage over the last few days has been on the most recent Anti-Asian violence. A white male (and yes, it’s almost always a white male) murdered eight people in the Atlanta area. Most of the people killed were Asian women.

Although I grew up in a predominantly white town and worked in predominantly white businesses, some of those most dear to me are Asian, either as immigrants, as native born U.S. with Asian heritage, or as continued residents in their home Asian nations. I see their pain, even if I’m not the target of what causes their pain. In fact, I fit the demographic that is most likely to contribute to, rather than alleviate, that pain.

Some of my Asian friends (see note) have felt the discrimination directly, others less so. One friend’s parent still living overseas calls more frequently to “check up,” feeling more anxious for the safety of their Asian American child. Another friend lives in constant anxiety. They had taken their parents out of an assisted living arrangement soon after the COVID pandemic began, fearful that they might become exposed to the virus that has taken so many in that system. Those parents recently got vaccinated, but still fear going out in public because of the attacks on Asian Americans, especially the elderly. Another friend moved back to Asia because of the heightened bigotry in the U.S. Yet another friend is the child of an Asian mother and White American father on military assignment, literally abandoned on the streets in their native country, and, after being adopted into a loving family, faced years of bigotry here in America. Psychological strain is evident even when there is no physical attack.

A conservative-leaning (as opposed to “conservative”) friend, who also happens to be of Asian descent, correctly pointed out to me that Anti-Asian violence is not new, nor is it exclusively perpetrated by white people. That is true. There has been a history of Asian-African American conflict in the U.S. for a long time, with both sides guilty of bigotry. Some of it may be home-grown, but some of it is a reflection of historical European/American interactions with Asia (much of which has not been positive) and pressure to secure a place in the white-dominant caste system in the U.S.

That conservative friend also got it right when they pointed out that bigotry against Asians in this country has been common in our history. Chinese immigrants, for example, came to the U.S. in the mid-1800s seeking their fortunes in the gold rush. Some were conned, kidnapped, and/or forced into exploitive arrangements, then and continuing today under “modern” trafficking crimes. When gold riches didn’t pan out for them, as with many Americans moving westward, the Chinese labored for the railroad companies, again in a largely exploitative arrangement. Later the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Acts. In World War II there were the Japanese internment camps. More violence against Asians followed the U.S. involvement in the Korean and Vietnam “conflicts” as refuges made their way to the the United States. Anti-Japanese violence occurred in the 1970s as American factory workers felt competition from “cheap Japanese radios.” Clearly this isn’t a new phenomenon. Even the mythology of the “model minority” is bigoted and exploitative.

As with so many mass murders, there is a tendency to dehumanize the victims when the murderer is a white male. The Georgia Sheriff updating reporters on the murders, when asked about the perpetrator, noted: “They got that impression that yes, he understood the gravity of it. He was pretty much fed up, and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.” You would think that the eight people murdered also had a bad day. So did millions of other people who didn’t murder eight people, and he apparently intended to continue his bad day by driving to Florida to murder other people. The sheriff also noted the perpetrator indicated he was trying to remove “the temptation” of the women’s presence. Language is powerful. By writing off the heinousness of the act, and putting the onus on those who were killed for why the murderer killed them, the sheriff is dehumanizing the victims of that act.

Dehumanizing the victims is a standard fallback. White people who vote against their interests are said to be experiencing “economic uncertainty” even though their votes exacerbate that uncertainty. In reality, the system favors whites; it always has. Voting differently would actually better address any of their valid concerns. So what is being covered up by this phrase? The same as it always has been. In our national history we quickly found that diminishing leaders of Native American civilizations as “savages” while setting up a system to cheat them gave us rationalization for pushing them further and further, and farther and farther, into untenable positions. We dehumanized African Americans through slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, criminalization policy, and more. We dehumanize “Mexicans,” who are mostly Central American refugees seeking escape from chronically corrupt regimes, along with migrant workers. We dehumanize Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and any other “other” we identify, simply to “keep them in their place,” that is, not interfere with our white privilege. We’ve done it throughout our history, and we continue to do it today.

What is new is the specific reason for this current wave of Anti-Asian violence. While the numbers are a moving target, there have been statistics like “there has been a 150% increase” or “3000 violent attacks” over the last few months. Let’s not kid ourselves. This is entirely due to the racist, Anti-Asian rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump and the Republican party. There is a reason Trump intentionally and repeatedly referred to the coronavirus that causes COVID as the “Chinese Virus,” ignominiously using his infamous black Sharpie to emphasize the point. He, and his Republican co-conspirators, intentionally used bigotry as a weapon to ignite the flames of passion in their followers. Because for the Republican party, bigotry works.

This isn’t new. “Conservatives” (again, as opposed to conservatives) have used bigotry to keep white workers in line against the “others” throughout our history, knowing that it distracted poorer whites from focusing on the oligarchy that manipulates the economic system in their favor. “Conservatives,” i.e., plantation slaveowners, argued that free states were attacking their right to enslave others, playing it up to the white farmers left destitute by the slave system as “northern aggression.” “Conservatives” screamed “socialism” in the 1860s and 1870s during Reconstruction, using the exact arguments that are used by today’s “conservatives.” John C. Calhoun’s mantra lives on in today’s oligarchs. Every time “others” manage to get a little bit more of the Constitution to apply to all Americans, not just the wealthy white ones, “conservative” forces pushed back. When Reconstruction threatened to give equality to former slaves, “conservatives” created Jim Crow laws and the KKK, and erected statues as intimidation. When the Supreme Court deemed segregation in schools unconstitutional and the civil rights movement was gaining steam, “movement conservatives” fought back by naming schools after slaveowners and instituting redlining to block equality of opportunity for African Americans. As soon as it became clear that Barack Obama could become president, “conservative” oligarchs invented the backronym “TEA Party” to provide cover for racist attacks (birtherism, Anti-Muslim, etc.). In other words, they did what they have done over and over again through our history. Want to know why Fox News has spent so much time lying about Dr. Seuss, and Mr. Potato Head? Because it is a tried-and-true culture war distraction from reality to rile up the bigotries of “conservatives.” And it keeps working.

Which gets me back to the beginning. While everyone must do their part, there is an extra responsibility for us white people. We have controlled the government, the airwaves, the economics, the public sentiment for the entire history of our nation. Often we’ve exploited our minority partners in this great experiment in self-government we call democracy (yes, technically we’re a republic, let’s not get distracted here). Whether white males like it or not, we’re slowly becoming inclusive. There’s a reason for that. It’s because the ideal of our nation requires it. That ideal is what has attracted immigrants from around the world. It’s what we should all be striving for.

The bottom line is that this is a nation of immigrants. Like most white Americans, I take pride in my English, Irish, and Portuguese heritage. My Asian friends, LatinX friends, African American friends, friends of all stripes and identities, all take pride in their heritages as well. But like me and virtually all of us, they also take pride in being American. We want America to be worth striving for. In allegorical terms, Abraham Lincoln’s statement that “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free” applies to today. We are all freer when we ensure our Constitution applies to all Americans.

Lincoln also said: “We are not enemies, but friends.” He called for us to be “again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Those better angels require us to take responsibility for our history, and our present. To quote another historical figure, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We are the power to be the change we need to be, if only we are brave enough to be it.

[Note: I’m being intentionally vague here for both privacy and safety reasons. For any given friend, Asian can mean Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and other Asians. Of course, violence isn’t restricted to that against Asians, and these views, and our responsibility, applies to all of us.]

[Photo credit from https://www.glamour.com/story/anti-asian-hate-crimes-are-on-the-rise-heres-what-you-can-do-about-it%5D

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

The United States of Ignorance

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A few days ago someone posted on social media a proposal to tutor immigrants studying to pass the citizenship test required to become American citizens. It struck me that most native-born Americans, who have lived here their entire lives, couldn’t pass the test to become citizens of their own country.

Depending on which study you look at, only between 36 to 40 percent of Americans can pass the test. Vermont was the only state that achieved more than a simple majority with passing grades, barely 53%. Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, and Virginia were among the small number of states that at least came close to 50%. Less surprising were the worst states – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and worst of all, Louisiana. Almost three-quarters of Louisianans would fail a citizenship test.

For a year we’ve dealt with the coronavirus. We’ve also seen a huge increase in violence against Asian-Americans, almost exclusively because the Trump family, Republican representatives, and conservative media banged a steady drumbeat of anti-Asian bigotry. COVID was both a “Democrat Party” hoax and a deadly disease purposely released upon us by the Chinese. This fervent belief in two opposing, and mutually exclusive, concepts is standard for the Republican propaganda machine.

Of course, not all anti-Asian violence is attributable to right wing bigotry. But there is a certain irony to the fact that a nation in which anti-immigrant bigotry is close to mainstreamed would not be able to pass the citizenship test that immigrants do pass when they become citizens. The ignorance of basic civics – how our government is structured and works – is now within the halls of government itself. As rioters attacked the Capitol and threatened the life of his own Vice President, Trump tried several times to get newly-elected Republican Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville to violate his oath of office. Tuberville, a college football coach with no political experience but, like Trump, plenty of accusations of fraud in business dealings, demonstrated he couldn’t name the three branches of the federal government when asked by reporters. Two newly elected Republican Representatives also demonstrated they didn’t know enough basic civics to do the jobs they were just elected to do. They aren’t the only ones. Indeed, the call is coming from inside the House.

Why don’t Americans know the most fundamental structure of our government, which immigrants working hard to learn a second (or third or fourth) language need to know?

The obvious answer is that we have a poor education system. That’s probably too pat an answer, and clearly some people have access to top-notch education while others don’t. The states with the worst scores on the citizenship test are, not surprisingly, those that also are near (or at) the bottom of measures of academic access, literacy, poverty, income, and health care. Again not surprisingly, they are usually red states.

But blue states can’t pass the test either. While my home state and my adopted state both score high in lists of “best states for education,” neither state could muster a majority of its citizens passing the test of citizenship. So it isn’t just education. Perhaps it’s that we no longer teach something that should be basic knowledge? I mean, there are three branches of the federal government. We have the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There is the Bill of Rights. We have 27 amendments (despite Members of Congress seeming to think that the Constitution has never been touched). It’s not like the test asks you to list the amendments in order, or name off the top of your head what the 3rd or 21st amendments do.

The test is multiple choice, people.

Sometime in my long-ago childhood I’m pretty sure I took something called “civics” or “government” or a more creatively named class. Or maybe it was just part of a basic “social studies” course. It was one semester at most, but most likely a single class or a week or two. There really isn’t that much to it. Do they not do teach even that bit any more?

Every high school graduate should have to take the standard U.S. Citizenship test before they can get their diploma. Once you learn it, you learn it. Sure, maybe you can brush up on some of the more obscure questions, like “Name one responsibility only for U.S. Citizens.” [Remember, this is a multiple choice test, so you can guess from the choices provided, one of which is guaranteed to be right] But other than an occasional practice test to jog the memory, this isn’t stuff that changes with time. The last amendment was ratified in 1992. The one before that was 1971. They don’t even ask you what they do, just how many there are. Seriously, this isn’t a “gotcha” kind of test. It’s basic. There is no “but that wasn’t in the book.” They literally give you the questions and answers beforehand to memorize.

Unless you can pass the citizenship test for your own country, you forfeit your right to complain about people from other countries who want to be citizens – and DO pass the test.

Anti-immigrant bigotry in a land of immigrants isn’t the only problem. We saw this culminate on January 6th. Americans are so grossly ignorant of their own country that they could be led by their Viking horns and MAGA hats to attack the Capitol, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, all Members of Congress in both House and Senate in an effort to “stop the steal” of an election they were tricked into, or willingly wanted to, stealing themselves.

Ignorance by the public is dangerous. Ignorance, or intentional dishonesty, by sitting Members of Congress is Anti-American.

[Image Credit: Cartoon by Scott Adams. And yes, I see the irony of using a Scott Adams cartoon in a post on ignorance.]

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

The Self-Impeachment of the Republican Party. Redux.

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Just over a year ago I wrote a post called “The Self-Impeachment of the Republican Party.” And Republicans are about to do it again.

Last year the issue was Trump’s blatant treason, extorting a foreign head of state to interfere with our elections. The Republican party ignored the treason in an attempt to protect itself; in essence, allowing the treason because the election interference would help the Republican party. Republican Senators made every excuse in the book to cover for their irresponsibility and Anti-Americanism. “He’ll learn his lesson,” said Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, who routinely plays the “moderate” while voting virtually every single time to hurt her own constituents.

And here we are again. Having not “learned his lesson,” Trump was in fact, and predictably, emboldened to continue his attacks on democracy by literally inciting an attack on the Capitol. And by Capitol I don’t mean just the building. He intentionally and with forethought incited an attack on his own vice president and every leader of Congress who were all in the Capitol conducting the normally ceremonial count of electoral votes. Trump literally called for an attack on Vice President Pence because even sycophant Pence wouldn’t commit outright treason on Trump’s behalf.

Watch this video.

As the second impeachment trial starts today, corrupt Republicans like Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham are doing everything in their power to trick Americans into forgetting that the head of his party literally incited an attack on democratic institutions, and on democracy itself. Rather than holding Republicans accountable, the press is simply miming Republican propaganda that there won’t be enough Republican votes to convict, which is of course why Republicans are pushing the propaganda that the press so irresponsibly regurgitates.

The fact is that the Republican party is again proving to the world that it is dishonest and Anti-American.

Only ten out of 210 Republicans in the House voted for impeachment. Ten. After Trump incited an attack on them.

Those ten have all now been censured and otherwise attacked by…their own party. Yup, the state Republican parties have censured their own members for being the only ones with honesty and guts enough to vote to hold Trump accountable for willfully inciting a literal attack on the U.S. Capitol. An attack, by the way, that resulted in at least five deaths.

But the Republican party decided that they will “hold accountable” those people who tried to hold Trump accountable.

The Republican party must be held accountable.

But they won’t. And America will die unless the Republican party as it stands now dies.

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

If Only We Are Brave Enough to Be It

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Abraham Lincoln was everywhere yesterday, even when most people didn’t realize it.

Newly sworn in President Joe Biden referenced Lincoln in his inaugural address. “In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863,” Biden said, “Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the President said, ‘If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.'”

Biden’s speech was Lincolnesque in other ways as well. There were the almost ubiquitous call to “the better angels of our nature.” It was a good speech. Not soaring in rhetoric as much as spoken from the heart, rooted in his own deep-seated emotional belief in this nation.

“My whole soul is in it,” Biden repeated. His whole soul is in “bringing America together, uniting our people, and uniting our nation.”

“I ask every American to join me in this cause.”

We very much need to do this.

I was asked by good friends how I felt about the end of an error and the beginning of an era. Mostly it feels like we as a nation are finally breaking away from an abusive relationship, the constant fear of what will happen next, how low can we go as a people. Even as the inauguration gave us new hope, we are now in the “I hope the restraining order keeps him away” stage of the prior relationship. It feels comforting to wake up to a sense of forward movement without the previously inevitable tweet to start the daily roller coaster careening into the past. But there is still work to be done.

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, widely believed to be gearing up for a 2024 presidential run, epitomized the Republican party view with his parting lines disparaging the diversity of America. “Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is,” he wrote on his last day in office, “They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker.”

He is obviously wrong. The proverbial melting pot in which all newcomers subsumed into the landscape invisibly was never really true, but the phrase lost its meaning entirely after immigrants began arriving from non-European climes and colors. Perhaps we are more of a melded society merging the best of multiculturalism while integrating into a blended America. Yesterday certainly demonstrated that diversity and blending. While Biden went to work in the Oval Office even as the celebrations continued into the night, our new Vice President Kamala Harris went to work giving the oath of office to three new Democratic Senators. New Georgia Senators Ossoff and Warnock were joined by new California Senator Padilla, the latter of whom takes over Harris’s previous seat. There are so many “firsts” in this one event that it becomes almost trite to catalogue them. But trite they are not; they reflect the change that is America. Harris herself represents many of those “firsts,” and may yet achieve more in her career. We are, in fact, a diverse America. And that diversity is reflected both in the new administration and the outpouring of election participation that proves voting has power. We’ll need to keep that energy.

In a program that included Lady Gaga (National Anthem), Jennifer Lopez (America the Beautiful), and Garth Brooks (Amazing Grace), who would have expected the ultimate star power to be 22-year-old African American poet Amanda Gorman. Her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” succinctly captured the past trials, the present transitions, and the future talents of America. Her performance, with its hints of rap and hip hop and history, made America fall in love with her, myself included.

So much of her performance spoke to so many. Among many other parts, and the sum of those parts, this part caught my ear:

A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation

Then setting the stage:

Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:

She channels Abraham Lincoln, although few would have noticed it:

If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright

Lincoln, in his 1860 Cooper Union Address, connected right with might:

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

Let us dare to do our duty as we understand it, and let it change our children’s birthright. Let love become our legacy.

Amanda Gorman again captures the essence of humanity in her closing lines.

The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Let us be brave enough to be it.

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

[Photo credit: Alex Wong. (Getty Images)]

The Republican Party Must be Held Accountable

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By the evening of January 6, 2021 I had received nearly a half dozen queries from friends overseas. “What is happening in your country? Are you okay?”

These are people from countries with a long history of autocratic, authoritarian regimes. They are usually in the news for the corruption rampant at the highest levels of their governments. They recognize authoritarianism when they see it.

They wondered how the United States had devolved so quickly into what we Americans would previously have thought of as a third-rate, third-world, authoritarian dictatorship. How could this happen, they asked me after I assured them that my safety was secure.

As a historian of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president of the United States, it pains me to acknowledge that the reason is today’s Republican party.

I’ve noted that today’s Republican party is no longer the party of Lincoln, and has not been for a long time. I explained the history and metamorphosis of the Republican party in more detail. In the last four years the party has gone even further. They now are the party of the Confederacy. They are the party of Putin. They are the party of dishonesty. They have impeached themselves. They have committed treason.

The Republican party no longer even tries to hide its disdain for most Americans. They don’t hide their focus on white supremacy, on promoting the “superior” caste. Elected Representatives defended white supremacy on the floor of the House. The Republican party helped organize and fund the attack on the Capitol.

This became abundantly clear on January 6, 2021. Normally a perfunctory, ceremonial task, the joint House/Senate counting of the already many-times certified electoral votes to confirm the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was this time going to be an exercise in sedition. Current Vice President Pence, to his limited credit after enabling Trump for four years, refused to succumb to Trump’s treasonous threats to throw out valid votes. More than half of Republicans in the House and 13 Republicans in the Senate decided to violate their oaths of office to placate a psychopathic Trump’s delusions, all because they knew they needed Trump’s delusional and Anti-American cultists to support these politicians’ future political ambitions. These Republicans knowingly instigated and reinforced what they knew not to be true, solely for political expediency and fear of a psychopath.

Now four people are dead after a mob instigated and encouraged and instructed by Trump rampaged the Capitol and attacked sitting Congressmen, Senators, the sitting Vice President, and hundreds of staffers. Capitol police were injured. Offices were ransacked.

So now what happens?

After ridding the building of Trump’s mob, Congress continued through the night to complete the vote counting. A few Republicans backed down and they reduced the charade of baselessly challenging the votes after they saw how their political theater had caused the attacks. But more than half of Republican Representatives and a dozen Republican Senators followed through on their own attack on democracy.

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) should immediately resign. If they refuse, the Senate should vote unanimously to expel them and ban them from ever holding federal office again.

All the other Republican Senators who participated in this sham attack on democracy should also resign immediately. If they refuse, they should at the very least be officially censured and removed from any committees they sit on.

Every Republican in the House of Representatives who voted to reject the vote of the American people should be immediately expelled from Congress and barred from holding future seats. If the House refuses take this necessary step, then these Republican members should be censured, lose their committee assignments, and be barred from leadership positions forever. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy should immediately resign his position.

Vice President Pence should immediately coordinate the removal of Trump from office using the 25th Amendment. This must be done today. Vice President Pence should assume status as Acting President immediately upon fulfilling the requirements of the 25th Amendment. Doing so will keep Trump from pardoning himself and his family, which would continue this national nightmare for many more years.

The House of Representatives should immediately bring charges of impeachment against Trump, to be voted on in the House immediately. Trump has provided ample evidence of sedition and treason, so no prolonged debate is necessary. We all know already.

The Senate must convict Trump on those impeachment charges immediately.

Trump must be charge with treason, inciting violence against the government, and a host of other seditious and violent instigations.

Every mob member that can be identified from the myriads of video and photographic evidence as having violently breached the Capitol should immediately be arrested and charged with the suite of felonies for their crimes. The two men photographed violating Speaker Pelosi’s office and the Senate floor should immediately be arrested for those charges and others related to theft of the mail and endangering public officers. They and other leaders of the attack should also be tried with manslaughter for their roles in the deaths of four people.

The West Virginia lawmaker who led one portion of the mob into the Capitol must be immediately expelled by the West Virginia legislature. He should also be arrested and charged with breaking into a government building and endangering the lives of federal lawmakers.

Soon to be former Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should resign his leadership position immediately. He should consider resigning from the Senate entirely. While he spoke out against the coup attempted by his fellow Republican Senators, he is the single most guilty of directing the party to the place it has arrived. Similarly, former Speaker Newt Gingrich should be called out for beginning this insurrection years ago with his dishonest attack on democracy during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, in addition to his continuing attacks on government and support for Trump’s treason via his media presence.

While politicians are naturally hesitant to hold each other accountable, the Republican party has reached a level of sedition so extreme that they must be punished for their Anti-Americanism. The above actions may seem extreme to some, but they are necessary to start the process of restoring America’s place in the world. A place that the Republican party has destroyed through anti-democratic and white supremacist policies over the last several decades. Trump didn’t appear in a vacuum. He epitomizes the autocratic, oligarchic promotion of the Republican party since Reagan. His overt brand of racism and casteism simply makes obvious the white supremacy and casteism pushed by the Republican party for many years.

Trump didn’t create the Republican party. The Republican party created the conditions that allowed Trump to rise to a natural position of authority. Both must go.

I reassured my friends in those foreign places that the United States would not become the kind of authoritarian nations theirs are known for. They assured me that the United States already is such a country. And we have secured that position in the last four years.

Enough is enough.

On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become the President and Vice President of the United States. Pence should attend the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to demonstrate the “smooth transition of power” that, until now, has been the hallmark of American government. Trump should be in jail.

Only then can we begin to rebuild America.

[NOTE: Edited to add the list of House and Senate Republicans who chose insurrection. See below and CNN link.]

The Senate voted 93 to 6 to dismiss the objection raised by Republicans to Arizona’s results, and 92 to 7 to reject the objection to Pennsylvania.

These are the senators who voted to object to some of the results of the election (and the states they objected to):

  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (Arizona, Pennsylvania)
  • Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (Arizona, Pennsylvania)
  • Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall (Arizona, Pennsylvania)
  • Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Arizona, Pennsylvania)
  • Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (Arizona, Pennsylvania)
  • Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (Arizona)
  • Florida Sen. Rick Scott (Pennsylvania)
  • Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis (Pennsylvania)

The House ultimately voted to reject an objection to throw out Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, but over half of the House Republicans backed the effort. The challenge failed by a vote of 282-138.

The GOP House minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, and his deputy, Steve Scalise, were among those seeking to overturn the results.

[Note: Added the following quote from Abraham Lincoln]

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaTesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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