Unify through Service

There is no “radical leftist agenda” under consideration anywhere in American politics. This is another variant of the Big Lie that incited terrorists to insurrection.

Tens of millions of people are hungry and out of work. Unity begins with honoring the responsibility to help.

The roots of sustained unity will grow as national policy realigns incentives toward healthy, sustainable, non-polluting innovation and diversification of local economies.

The climate-smart, science-based clean future is how we secure prosperity and prevent future pandemics.

Biden brings US back to Paris

Shortly after arriving at the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed a number of executive orders. The third of these restored the United States to the Paris Agreement. This recommitment to global climate action leadership is historic, necessary, and a great benefit to the US and the world.

The climate crisis is complex, operates across many different interacting natural systems, spans the ocean, atmosphere, glaciers, watersheds, and ecosystems everywhere, and affects everything human societies aspire to.

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The Poetry of Public Service

President Biden lays out the stakes & calls for a grieving, divided nation to work together, saying “My whole soul is in this.”

After four years of chaos, corruption, lies, and ultimately an armed insurrection, people across the United States and around the world have been counting down the hours and minutes until the powers of the US Presidency pass to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as they did today at 12:00 pm EST.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., comes to the Presidency at a moment of historic calamity. Multiple converging crises threaten the everyday, health, wellbeing, and security of the American people. During the turbulent and uncertain period of the transition—while the outgoing President fanned the flames of insurrection and refused to acknowledge defeat, and as daily COVID deaths soared above 4,000 per day in the United States—Biden effectively began his presidency by setting a tone of sobriety, care, and faithful service in hard times.

Today, President Biden reminded a divided country that “we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” adding “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

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The Tyrant is Gone

Three hours before his term officially ends, Donald Trump has departed the White House for the last time, spoke briefly to a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews, and now has boarded Air Force One for a final trip as President to his home in Florida.

While he did wish the incoming administration “good luck”, he never mentioned President-elect Biden by name. Trump said he would be back “in some form” and ended his remarks with the famously dismissive phrase “Have a nice life.”

At the same hour, Vice President Mike Pence, along with leaders of both parties in the United States Congress, join President-elect Joe Biden for mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, a few blocks from the White House. 

As Trump the political vandal leaves behind his time in public office, a prayerful lifelong public servant who reads poetry brings solemnity back to the office, at a time of unprecedented national crisis—with more than 400,000 dead in one year, widespread economic hardship and food insecurity. 

This transfer of power takes place as we are still coming to grips with the hateful gravity of the terrorist insurrection Trump and his allies orchestrated (to use his own Attorney General’s word). 

Democracy has held. The people choose their leaders; their leaders don’t get to determine the outcome of elections. The Constitution provides the structure and sets the boundaries, and at 12:00 pm EST on January 20, all powers of the office pass to the person chosen by the people.

400,000 American lives lost to COVID in 1 year

The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed on January 21, 2020. Just 2 days shy of one year later, the virus has now killed 400,000 Americans.

While the development of multiple vaccines in less than one year is a major scientific achievement, the pandemic is still getting worse. 

  • Multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are actively spreading around the world, with one as much as 70% more transmissible—meaning many times more infections and deaths.
  • Health care systems are reaching capacity, or over capacity. The entire city of Los Angeles has had to begin a triage system for emergency cases.
  • Vaccine distribution is not moving quickly enough to reach population-wide immunity in the first half of 2021, which means lockdowns are expected to continue and economic hardship will deepen.
  • Poverty and hunger are spreading worldwide, with acute hunger (near starvation) doubling to more than 250 million. In the US, food banks are projected to be billions of meals short by mid-year.
  • There are projections the US will see 3,000 and even 4,000 deaths per day in coming weeks, possibly losing 92,000 people in just 3 weeks.

Tonight, on the eve of his inauguration and swearing in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden spoke to the nation from the Lincoln Memorial, looking out over the reflecting pool, lined with 400 lights, one for every 1,000 lives lost over the last year. He was joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as well as the First Lady and the nation’s first Second Gentleman.

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Letter to the GOP on Impeaching Trump for Insurrection

To all Republicans in the United States Senate and House of Representatives:

Donald Trump will be impeached for inciting insurrection, because he incited insurrection. The 14th Amendment prohibits you from using your office to provide him aid or comfort.

Since many in the Republican Party seem to think it would be politically risky to break from Trump—even after he sent armed paramilitaries to attempt a coup and again today threatened to attack our country—all who would stand by him need to rethink their notions of future electability.

  • You cannot campaign as being for “law and order” if you don’t stand firm against Trump’s incitement of armed insurrection against the Constitution.
  • You cannot call yourself a patriot if you don’t stand firm against the seditious conspiracy and ALL of its adherents.
  • You will not be able to claim the mantle of Lincoln if, when your nation was attacked by Nazis and traitors, you stood by and asked that the rest of the country try to understand them.
  • To use the language of Title 18, Section 2383, of the US Code, Trump incited and “set on foot” a gang of paramilitary attackers to storm the Capitol.
  • The attackers killed a police officer who died bravely defending you. Trump took the life of Officer Sicknick and sent terrorists to kill the Vice President.
  • No one will ever take you seriously as pro-life, or even minimally loyal to anything, if you use your vote to give aid to Trump.

While the Capitol endured its first armed attack since the War of 1812, and a terrorist coup plot is still underway (in all 50 states, according to the FBI), the nation is also weathering an unprecedented cyber attack from foreign adversaries. And, it must be recognized, the bot army used by Trump to radicalize millions is a form of cyber war.

It may feel daunting, if you were a pro-Trump Republican in 2020, to challenge the menacing force of that bot army; you may even be facing threats from pro-Trump extremists, but when that bot army is no longer able to aid Trump in his attack on the republic, all anyone will see is complicity.

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Insurrection – as defined & penalized in US Federal law

The House of Representatives is preparing to impeach President Donald J. Trump for Incitement of Insurrection and calling for his removal from office and lifelong prohibition from ever holding office again. While Trump’s actions may well be part of a wider seditious conspiracy, no wider plot need be proven to demonstrate that he acted to incite, set on foot, or otherwise assist in insurrection.

Title 18, Part I, Chapter 115, § 2383 of the U.S. Code outlines the crime of “Rebellion or insurrection” and the corresponding penalties. It reads:

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Time Capsule: 196 Hours to Inauguration

A note on our moment, for future reference:

At this writing, on a Tuesday morning, there are 196 hours till the Inauguration of Joe Biden and the end of the presidency of Donald Trump. That’s 8 days and 4 hours. While some allies of Trump resist calls for his removal, the entire nation is seriously discussing whether he should resign, be removed as unfit for office under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, or face his second impeachment, this time for Incitement of Insurrection.

The reason the debate is serious is that no one, not even his own staff, can be sure he is not a clear and present danger to the republic. He has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. An entire pro-Trump social media platform has been shut down by service providers, for helping to incite insurrection, yet Trump still tries to fan the flames of sedition with conspiracy theories.

Today, he will visit the border region of Texas, known to be rife with paramilitary extremist groups, to celebrate his deliberate torture of families seeking asylum from violence and deprivation. He is doing this, while the FBI reports paramilitary extremists are planning “armed protests” in all 50 states and will again seek to target the Capitol, in a siege planned for January 16-20.

We have, in fact, a rogue president, who appears unable or unwilling to honor his oath of office. There is, at this moment, real, widespread, even global, concern that the sitting President of the United States could engage in actual atrocities if allowed to remain in charge of the US government.

A minority of members of Congress are, today, deciding whether they will cast a vote to provide him with aid and comfort after he incited and set on foot a seditious mob, with instructions to attack the Capitol. It should be noted: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits them from providing him with that aid and comfort.

We must honor the sacred spaces of self-government

The Democracy Witness project began as an affirmation of the rights of all people, everywhere, to enjoy self-determination and open government. The foundation for this publication’s work is the requirement that any government derive its just powers from the voluntary and informed consent of the governed.

Last week’s attack on the US Capitol by paramilitary insurrectionists, incited to violence by a rogue president and his corrupt allies, have caused us to refocus on the importance of treating as sacred the spaces where self-government plays out. The US Capitol is one such place—arguably the most open legislative body in the world, where any person can freely engage in good-faith policy discussion with elected officials and their staff.

Some legislators have full time staff devoted to answering correspondence from those they represent. Some offices will answer millions of pieces of correspondence per year. It is possible, in the United States, for ordinary people to fill the calendar of meetings and to contribute substantively to discussions on racial discrimination, police reform, taxation, economic development, education policy, healthcare access rights, environmental protection and climate action, and on matters of peace and security.

American democracy is not perfect, but it does allow everyone to play a role, if they wish to. The attack on the Capitol was an attempt to subvert the right of hundreds of millions of people to enjoy the fruits of open government. Nothing the attackers or their sympathizers say can change that fact.

We will be using the United States Capitol as a symbol for Democracy Witness, for the indefinite future, as a sign of respect for that highest of all principles of democratic process—that people working in good faith for the betterment of their communities and their fellow citizens have an absolute right to meet with and constructively inform those who represent them in the halls of government.

Democracy is about the demilitarization of the civic space. We call on all political actors everywhere to work peacefully, and constructively, for a society in which force can never displace reason, participatory process, or the full and equal protection of the laws.

This is why we have always loved sharing images of citizens gathering to meet with government in good faith, to talk policy, to build political will for a better future. There is joy, and real empowerment, in living your democracy that way. May it again be the norm in the weeks and months ahead, and when we overcome the scourge of COVID-19 that has kept so many so far from others.

Insurrectionists barred from public office by US Constitution

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

While it does not make clear precisely what action by what authority affirms the “disability” from a person who betrayed their oath from ever holding office again, it is significant that the Constitution specifies that such a person can only hold office—at any level of government, anywhere within the US—if two-thirds of both houses of the United States Congress vote to grant them special permission.

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