Epiphany 2021

Journey of the Magi by James Tissot

Epiphany.

The feast day commemorating the visit of the Magi, when the three kings of the Orient following a convergence of Jupiter and Saturn found the Baby Jesus at Bethlehem. Also known as Russian Christmas, the feast of Epiphany is celebrated January 6. Twelve days after Roman Christmas.

I’m not a religious man. I know this story of the Magi from my upbringing at St Simon of Cyrene Catholic school. The Epiphany was a holy day so we got the day off. We still had to go to mass, though. Technically the thirteenth day of Christmas, almost a week past new year’s day, as obscure holidays go it seemed easy enough to slip into Baby Jesus fatigue and let mass and the gospel of the day slide and grab skates and sleds to play the day outdoors on the ice and snow like it was still Christmas vacation. Ya-hoo.

And still the gravity pull of obligation to honor the significance of the feast day and respect the message of an event important enough to designate a holy day. I was an altar boy and lived within a block of the church and a convent next door, so I served mass a lot. Probably five Epiphanies before skating and sliding away into Januaries of the secular life, some lessons and legends that I learned in church school still make me wonder what’s really going on.

The word epiphany means some kind of realization or sudden awareness. One supposes that the three Magi, wise men of the Orient named Casper, Melchior and Balthazar undertook a caravan to trek hundreds of miles across deserts following a bright object in the sky without any clear idea what they were looking for. They were wise men, after all, and familiar with ancient legends and prophesies, and the bright star was a sign. Somewhere in Judea they arrived at the notion they were looking for a newborn baby, obviously a special child of consequential existence. Either out of political nicety or naive trust in a fellow monarch they paid a call on King Herod and inquired if the king, being king after all, knew where they might find this special child. Herod knew nothing but piqued with jealousy asked the Magi to inform him if they found this child.

Somehow the Magi found the child on their own. They gave Mary and Joseph gold, frankincense and myrrh, which doubtless came in handy. The Magi figured out King Herod had devious plans for their baby and urged Mary and Joseph to flee the country for the baby’s life. The family fled to Egypt. The Magi, somehow under the Roman radar, slipped out of Judea to avoid Herod and went back home the back way, probably the Silk Road. And Herod, increasingly jealous of a special child out there somewhere who might grow up to challenge his authority and impatient that the Magi didn’t get back to him, ordered his soldiers to go house to house throughout the land to kill every newborn baby. This event is commemorated in the church as the Massacre of the Holy Innocents.

Does anyone quickly recall what My True Love gave to me on the 12th Day of Christmas? Twelve drummers drumming. Rum-pa-bum-bum.

We saw the near convergence of Jupiter and Saturn ourselves Christmas Eve evening in a clear sky for a change that week of doom gray cloudy weather. It was colder than usual. Our daughter Michel lured us to an outdoor Methodist service at their parking lot where the congregated spread out social distancing among saucers of bonfires and singing through masks. Roxanne and I hadn’t been together with Michel and her family since Halloween due to observance of stricter covid-19 pandemic measures. Michel is a nurse at an occupational medicine clinic and enforces strict protocols to keep from infecting Roxanne and me. She has a spiritual side she likes to share with her mother and me and it was important we meet her, Sid and the girls at twilight Christmas Eve at the parking lot of the neighborhood Methodist church, at least six feet apart but as proximate as we dared, to share her faith with electric candles and Joy To The World for half an hour. I stayed close to the nearest bonfire. I did not pretend to sing, but it felt joyful enough to be in proximity to my family and observe their presence and feel their vibes in some kind of celebration.

Winter was officially only two days old but it already seemed as if it was forecast to last forever. As the bonfire died down and the service ended and everybody trudged away through the snow and their cars — struck me it was a little like a Biden rally — honk honk — the melancholy set back in. For solace on the way home we ordered a Papa Murphy take and bake pizza by iPhone from a shop we found still open. It was on the drive back to the house we saw the near convergence of the two planets in a swath of clear sky. We checked the sighting as if from a bucket list like visiting the Vatican. The pizza was quite good.

Christmas Day we cheated and broke the covid-19 rules. We met at Michel and Sid’s house along with Vincent, Amelie and Neko, for soup, chili and exchanging presents. There were nine of us including Michel’s girls, Kitty and Sparkles. We were technically three households, where state guidelines prescribed just two. We kept doors and windows open for ventilation. All three of our households kept to ourselves in isolated pods ten days prior to Christmas and we got tested at the pharmacy that week. After a while at Michel’s I had to take off my mask just to breathe as well as eat and drink. It was only a couple hours and I really needed their companionship. Not since the Kysylyczyns — Michel and Sid’s family — lived in Switzerland have I felt so lonely and apart from my kin. The illicit — illegal — Christmas party did my heart and soul so much good it was almost easy to overlook the awkward guilt of breaking Dr Fauci’s prescription and Governor Balz’s emergency proclamations.

Twelve, thirteen days later and none of us got sick. Alleluia.

So far we haven’t faced charges for our civil disobedience, just shame for our hypocrisy.

A few days after that Michel got vaccinated. First one in the family. A health care worker. Double alleluia.

The pandemic coronavirus refuses to go away. Covid-19 has not fallen from the news headlines at all, contrary to the prediction of the president, who has not fallen from the headlines yet either. That the two headliners don’t converge under the same story except that the two subjects are disengaged is itself a big part of the story. It’s almost one year since I first read about the outbreak in Wuhan. It’s been the weirdest year ever.

There will be no Ixtapa Zihuatanejo this year. No massajes en la playa. My correspondence with the people I know is sketchy. Some of our friends have caught covid-19 but are recovering. For us the border is closed. There may as well be a wall eight miles high. We look ahead to 2022. Meantime there’s this YouTube musical link provided by our gringo friend Kirk, who has been going down since he was a little kid with his parents. Some of you in the Rocky Mountain region may know him as the drummer of the hard rock band Ahno from the 1990s.  https://youtu.be/2KGGyR3w81w Titled “Cubeta de Cerveza” it’s a four minute mile along the southwestern Mexican coast worth a nostalgic laugh, a post card Wish We Were There.

I mentioned my Mexican pen pal, who sent me a YouTube email last week with the subject line ¿America? of the insurrection in progress taking siege of the Capitol of the United States.

That’s when it occurred to me out of the blue it was January 6, feast of the Epiphany.

That morning I got up eager to face the day. When I’d gone to bed the vote counts in the Georgia senate runoff elections were coming in from Atlanta metro counties and Savannah and it looked possible that the Democrat challengers might possibly win. Between the results of those election races and the afternoon joint session of Congress to certify the electoral college votes, I planned to have the TV on all day. I planned to pack a picnic lunch. There was that Bill Withers song in my head, “Lovely day, lovely day.”

I sang it out loud while Roxanne got ready for work. Yes, she’s retired but agreed to go into the lab at least once a month to help clean up expiring grant projects while her boss the professor himself eases into retirement. She planned to be gone maybe five hours. More than me, the stay at home isolation of the pandemic gives her the lonesome blues and she welcomes any legitimate chance to get out of the house like grocery shopping. I tease her I’m suspicious she’s got a boyfriend out there. I kiss her goodbye at the back door and urge her to be careful, stay safe. There is a crime wave of carjackings all around the city including the University campus. She assures me she’ll be fine and I am confident she will as I watch her drive away down 32nd St.

Feeling like a teenager whose parents left me alone for the weekend I grab my morning newspaper and a full cup of coffee and head to the TV room for a day of CNN. Little did I know.

It’s no secret I have a low opinion of Donald J Trump. To me he’s beyond the pail — the pail — the bucket of slops you feed pigs. His conceited racist lying demagoguery and attempted tyranny over American culture has not just corrupted politics but broken society and crushed the pieces, destroyed the tools and buried the cement of reconciliation. The man who would be fuhrer mocked the rule of law and metaphorically pissed on and wiped his ass with the Constitution. He preached hate and rallied thousands with his phony evangelism, a perfect Antichrist. He called the free press the enemy of the people and called stories of facts contradicting his lies fake news. His immoral narcissism of self above country disgraces his office. His glib international stupidity makes him a supreme risk to national security. His botched denial of the covid-19 pandemic illustrates in epic detail what a failed leader he is.

He didn’t do it alone. He’s got acolytes and sycophants, enablers, apologists, apprentices, succubuses, fans, coat-tailers, minions, monkey-boys and plain old followers sucking up to his big lies. They give him the feedback he is all powerful, always right. I have fretted I’ve devoted much too much thought to trying to figure out what they see in this loser.

Until January 6 there was an abstract image in my mind of white knuckleheads floating Confederate battle flags, wearing red MAGA hats, yahoos in 4th of July bunting jackets and unmasked daredevils chanting to lock up Hillary Clinton. Women Trump supporters struck me as the type who write love letters to killers in prison. It was a given that they were misguided souls, just like Donald J Trump suffers from mental illness, but it doesn’t shield responsibility for choices and actions. I imagined they were uniformly racists and xenophobes, white nationalists and fascists. Some I suspected admired Trump for his business acumen, that is to say his ability to swindle, grift, lie and cheat. I suppose there are those who want to be just like him and get away with it. I saw pictures of the crowds at Trump rallies and estimated his crowds as overhyped and fanatical but ultimately a minor fringe of the general population.

The Republicans at large I held accountable for using Trump to push its anti-Obama agenda, to roll back environmental regulations, cancel Obamacare, cut taxes for the upper class, promote mining and fossil fuel, stop immigration, pack the courts with conservative judges, and generally dismantle the liberal professional bureaucracy of the federal government. To their shame instead of promoting conservative ideas by their merits to govern the country they hid their objectives behind Trump like a Trojan horse. Thus they are revealed to have no intellectual credibility of their own.

Why they hate liberals so much I can’t understand. Do people not value clean water? Fairness? Human rights? John F Kennedy wrote:

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

For the record, a lot of conservatives revile John F Kennedy. Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

This election in November obsessed me all summer and fall. The covid-19 pandemic intensified my attention to the campaign. Social justice issues rocked the conversation. The Republicans ran a lot of ads against the Democrats showing riot scenes and warning of the anarchy to ensue if the Biden ticket got elected.

Under pandemic conditions there were limitations to alternatives to politics, and at the same time limited personal involvement in campaigns. My neighborhood is as solidly liberal Democrat as those blue counties surrounding Atlanta on the Georgia map of CNN’s Magic Wall, so there wasn’t an urgency to go door to door to rouse the vote around here, a lawn sign had to suffice. I emailed and texted to remind people to vote, hoping I was right and they would not vote for Trump. This isn’t the first story invoking current politics and social issues I’ve reported on these pages the past five years to discourage electing Donald J Trump to public office.

You will note I was shocked in 2016, but I still regarded Trump’s core supporters a minority fringe group. Mid-term elections in 2018 seemed to indicate an awakening away from Trump’s politics. It seemed inevitable to write off the deplorables as incurables and try to reason with Republican voters who regretted putting him in office. Then the pandemic broke out and all hell broke loose.

aurora borealis

A year ago despite trade and tariff conflicts the American economy was rocking. An economy built during the Obama Biden administration was still strong despite Trump’s tampering, such that Trump kept claiming he built it from a wreck as part of making America great again, which was one of thousands of lies he told. A year or so ago that lie was becoming an easy sell, a myth he might succeed in parlaying into a victory in November. Remember the old saying, it’s the economy stupid, well by the American standard of living in January 2020 it was stupid high. The argument against socialism was easier when capitalism thrived and there was general prosperity and what most economists agreed was an era of statistical full employment. Last Christmas was a retail high. Gasoline prices were low. Even the demands of the underclass seemed manageable. The middle class may never had it so good.

Then the coronavirus pandemic came and crashed the party. In ways future historians will have an abundance of documents to show, Donald J Trump screwed up the pandemic. The economy went sideways. He denied the public health emergency. Called it a hoax. Tried to suppress the data. Said he wasn’t the national shipping clerk for medical equipment. Made no reverence to the sick and the dead even after he himself caught the virus and recovered. He held superspreader campaign events at the White House. He staged dense maskless campaign rallies.

Trump gave America an ample opportunity to evaluate his presidency. He came unglued in debates with Joe Biden, a calm, sane adult by comparison — so sane Trump characterized him as sleepy, boring and would be very uninteresting as a president. Trump lost his composure in interviews when confronted with facts. He called in and ranted on talk radio and FOX TV, replayed later, parsed and refuted in free mainstream media. Unashamed he boasted conspiracy theories at his rallies and in his Twitter tweets. In the closing month of his campaign he was who he was for everyone to see and hear.

I heard jack boots assembling in the distance. I heard dog whistles in the wind. In his 2016 campaign he used to recite the lyrics of a 1960s hit song by Al Wilson called “The Snake”. In those lyrics is a line that defines what Trump is all about: “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

In 2016 he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes, but by the electoral college system defined in the Constitution he won enough state electors to be president. He claimed the popular margin for Hillary was all fraudulent and he won by a landslide.

This time he lost the popular vote by 7 million and the electoral college too, 306 – 232, the same score he won by in 2016. It took days to count and recount all the votes to certify the winner, Joe Biden.

As exhilarated as the election results made me feel, there was no room for catharsis. I promised myself I would not gloat. I’m still not gloating. Donald J Trump refused to concede. He not only refused to concede, he asserted he really won, alleging actions of widespread fraud stole the election.

No doubt, this was the strangest, weirdest, most intense election of my lifetime. The politics alone, liberal v conservative, posed serious debate about direction of national policy. Add in the cult of personality around the incumbent president and its anti-cult. Multiply by the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Only time will allow us all perspective to appreciate just how complicated these times are. People know that old blessing and curse, may you live in interesting times. It goes along with be careful what you wish for. The drama has built over the past five years. The pandemic multiplies the interesting, and the wishes, and the drama. Exponentially. There has never been such crises in American history.

It occurs to me some of my readers don’t live in the United States.

We brag we are a democracy and we are complacent and take for granted what that means. Fundamentally we can vote. We elect people who conduct our government business. Our government swears to serve the people’s interests. The people elect representatives to govern themselves. It’s a big deal to believe in this and to live by it as part of a personal code. At the very least everyone needs to believe their vote matters as much as their lives matter.

This election matters so much to both sides that they went to incredible lengths to make it happen in spite of the pandemic health crisis, and to not let it happen by placing greater inconveniences. Several states accommodated for early and mail in voting to enable voters to participate in the time of covid. Trump’s partisan, incompetent postmaster general coincidentally shut down post office facilities, jeopardizing the timeliness of mail in votes. Ultimately about 159 million people voted, the most voters ever in the USA.

On the campaign trail, spreading the virus at his rallies, Trump sowed doubt and salted the earth by predicting if he were to lose it would be because of widespread fraud. And sure enough before the states published their certified votes, Trump claimed fraud. He claimed the election was stolen.

Trompe l’oeil, pronounced tromp loy, meaning trick the eye, is a style of painting designed to appear three dimensional like a shadow box. It sounds like a pun: Trump Lie.

Trump claimed he won. Without proof he claimed massive vote fraud in five states crucial to his defeat, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. His premise centered on the earliest tallies election night. He was leading in those states at bedtime and refused to believe by dawn the next day Joe Biden surpassed him. The margins generally grew as the day went on. He claimed any ballots counted after 11:59 election day should be thrown out because they were counted after election day was over. A lot of those ballots came in by mail or early voting where state law prescribed counting all the same day in-person votes first, the go back and count early, absentee and mail in votes later, which included foreign service workers and military personnel. Trump’s logic would disallow those ballots. The claim was dismissed as absurd and the counts continued.

Eventually after close counting and days recounting Joe Biden was declared the winner by the numbers according to the state totals and the news media. Donald J Trump would not concede and kept telling the world he really won. He sent a legal team into state and federal courts alleging fraud. Rudy Giuliani — once a federal prosecutor who bagged nefarious mobsters and racketeers and gained fame as America’s Mayor in the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City — looking like Gollum in suit and tie, teamed with an obscure right wing attorney named Sidney Powell dressed like the Addams Family butler Lurch in drag, sashayed into courtrooms and public forums claiming ballot fraud, dead people voting, voting machines recalibrated by minions of communist dictators, double and triple counting, poll watchers denied access and every kind of specious accusation thinkable and unthinkable why Joe Biden won by fraud and the election was stolen from Donald J Trump — all without proof. They hauled stacks of paper and carried thick briefcases into court after court. They won one minor motion to force a recount already in progress, and lost 60. No proof.

Trump in effect forced the various states to instead prove to the world the election was legitimate. Where the burden of proof to the contrary was on him, he succeeded in forcing the states to go to extraordinary lengths to show proof of how safe, fair and free our election was and display with vivid transparency the mechanics of how it worked.

And yet Trump would not concede. Giuliani and Powell touted conspiracy theories and touted stacks of documents of hollow speculations, delusions, wannabe witnesses with wishful wiki and absolutely no shame, no facts and no proof. Trump’s press secretary, heir to the likes of Bill Moyers, Trump’s angel faced cross-wearing surrogate liar, liked to carry ring binders of talking points for all occasions and stack up papers full of nothings for effect, with no substance within the gibberish. Secretary of State Pompeo said he looks forward to the second Trump term. Republicans fell in line behind the Trump Lie. His defenders said he had every right to challenge the election by legal means. That’s saying he has every right to lie until proven wrong. Again and again.

I looked forward to December 8, the day all the states convened at their state capitols to read their election results, certify their electoral votes and assign what their electors would submit on January 6 at the joint session of Congress as it says in the Constitution. The day passed with no variation to the counts previously reported. CNN televised each state ceremony. There were rumors and threats on social media to disrupt some of the state meetings, especially Arizona, and Michigan where armed disruptors had already rallied within the state capitol recently and an active plot discovered to stalk, kidnap and execute the governor for her covd-19 policies. December 8 came and the electors voted at their states without incident, and I thought maybe at last this election was settled and Joe Biden could transition into administration and get on with the business of dealing with the pandemic.

Ah, no. Along with denying he lost, and ginning up lawsuits against states claiming the election was stolen, Trump kept the General Services Administration from handing over the keys to the Biden transition team and refused to issue the transition budget. Pinched in the spotlight and accused of partisan lackeying the head of the GSA eventually signed the work orders, the official letter of ascertainment. Still, Biden’s team met transition resistance from Trump’s department appointees. Vice president elect Harris as member of the senate intelligence committee was getting better national security briefings than the president elect, even as the National Director of Intelligence revealed a Russian hack of critical American computer networks (which Trump sloughed off and lamely blamed the Chinese).

Trump stoked the flames of resentment. After December 8 he seemed almost laughable, the electoral college a mere formality January 6. When the attorney general resigned saying the justice department found no fraud, Trump said they didn’t look hard enough. The national chief of election security called it the most secure election ever, and Trump fired him. Trump fired the secretary of defense too for good measure.

The US Supreme Court declined to hear Trump’s case to block electors from states where he lost, and he whined about that because he personally nominated three of them to the bench so he could assure himself conservative majority opinions. It would appear the justices are truly conservative to stick to the letter of the Constitution, demand proof of wrongdoing and not be swayed by any Evil Eye.

Conspiracy theories flourished, or so I was told. I paid little attention. They all seemed too wacky to take seriously, like John McCain was not really dead, he just gone underground. My favorite conspiracy theory was that Trump and Putin formed a White Country Alliance against China and the non-white world. I do not subscribe to Twitter and only read Facebook over Roxanne’s shoulder just to keep track of extended family and some real friends. Even for perverse entertainment I have no interest in the likes of QAnon. Not even to take the bait and fire back. As a self-published author I believe with all my heart in the First Amendment and deplore censorship, and with all my mind that only more free speech will lead to truth. I approach information skeptically, though, and think some fiction tells better truth than the real time delusions of a herd mentality willfully determined to saturate the culture with hateful misinformation.

Like Springsteen in his song Magic: “Trust none of what you hear, and less of what you see. This is what will be, this is what will be.”

The pandemic death toll was more than four thousand a day. A frequent comparison is with 9/11, when 3,000 died. Or eight jumbo jet plane crashes a day. What I’ve always stressed over and disliked the most about the pandemic is the daily body counts, but you can’t look away. Much less pretend it’s not happening and that the whole experience is a hoax that would dispel if we all stopped paying attention. If we paid attention to our freedoms. If we paid attention to our own gratification. If we are Oath Keepers not our brothers keepers. If we simply stopped acting as if we have any earthly control of this disease until herd mentality reaches herd immunity and meanwhile an immense share of our population gets wiped out — survival of the fittest. Buyer beware. There are costs to buying the Big Lie.

Trump took several days off to play golf at his residence at Bedminster — there you see him on some fairway through an ultra-telephoto lens, huffing along with his cart through the Virginia foliage. All the work he did to rush the speedy development of the coronavirus vaccines — a major scientific achievement — deserved a few days of his favorite recreation. He fretted he wasn’t getting enough credit for the vaccines, as if he worked late every night in the basement of the White house to discover the formula by himself that he could hand off to Pfizer and Moderna to copy and paste. He spent months avoiding coronavirus task force meetings and stopped addressing the public. There came this lingering question why he wouldn’t concede the election, which he kept answering with the Big Lie.

He kept busy at being president scheming how he could overturn the election to be the winner, which everybody except a handful of wackos and idiots and deplorables believed. It was laughable because it was self-evident as right itself at high noon January 20, 2021 Donald J Trump would no longer be President of the United States, even if the US Marshals and Secret Service had to frog-march the crybaby out the door. Then he started issuing presidential pardons. Among a handful of mercy pardons he pardoned lackeys who lied for him obstructing the probe of his campaign’s ties to Russia and a band of mercenaries convicted of war crimes.

Meanwhile Congress worked out compromises to legislate a $900 billion covid relief bill satisfactory to the president’s closest advisors. Congress sent it to the White House along with spending authorization to fund the government into September 2021. And also a bill to fund the Pentagon and the department of defense another year, which included pay raises for enlisted personnel. Trump sat on both bills as year end deadlines approached, threatening vetoes. The covid relief bill included bump-ups of unemployment compensation and $600 cash payments to taxpayers. Trump pompously at his irresolute desk at the White House vetoed the defense bill and threatened to veto the covid relief bill and the government funding package, which would force a government shutdown at winter holiday time, unless Congress rewrote the bill to raise the cash payments to $2000 — merely $600 was being too chintzy.

Democrats with majority votes in the House of Representatives jumped all over the idea and convened to pass the measure to increase it to $2000. Senators weren’t so generous. Republicans controlled a slim majority in the Senate and several are very fiscally conservative and philosophically aren’t keen to just give away money to just anybody for nothing. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech he didn’t want to see money flowing to Joe Biden’s rich Democrat friends. Seemed specious to think of anybody making less than $70 grand a year to qualify for the money would be considered rich, but Mitch got his caucus to decline the House’s generous offer to jack up the money to appease the president. For good measure both chambers of Congress voted by greater than two thirds to over-ride Trump’s veto of the defense bill. For no given reason Trump suddenly signed the funding and relief bill as the year neared the end, encamped for the holidays at Mar a Lago.

Trump tried to tie his vetoes to his insistence Congress repeal of section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act which provides civil liability immunity to online platforms for third-party content or for removal of content. He wanted it part of the over-ride of the defense funding bill, but Congress glossed right past it without inclusion. Trump really wanted the repeal of section 230 because he claimed the online platforms were starting to censor right wing points of view and those censored should have the right to sue. He himself and his sons started seeing their Twitter posts subject to being tagged online as containing untrue information.

That he signed the covid relief bill made me feel better. Roxanne and I qualify but really don’t need the $600 — we’ll find someplace to spread the funds — but Donald J Trump suddenly sticking up for and not sticking it to the poor and working people seemed camouflage for desperation, a trompe l’oeil of the Trump Lie that he really cared $2000 would buy loyalty. I felt better about it because it meant help was really on the way and Trump was getting out of the way. Less than a month to complete his term, as inelegant as I expected his exit I felt assured he would face the end with no more options and concede his lie by deed if not by word.

It annoyed me to see people walk on eggshells around him afraid of what he would do. What could he do? What power did he hold over them? Critics reported he was ranting around the White House like King Lear. He seemed Shakespearean all right but I was seeing him as Julius Caesar with a coterie on the edge of betraying him. Brutus — or Bluto, depending on your vintage Popeye — could be Mike Pence. The fault lies not in the stars but among ourselves.

It seemed conceivable Trump could give himself a stroke, especially if he might still be taking the steroids prescribed when he had covid-19.

An unedited recording of a phone conversation between Trump and the Georgia secretary of state emerged to shatter my peace. In the hourlong conversation Trump implores Brad Raffensperger, a Republican elected state official, to alter the vote tabulation of the state of Georgia to make him win — implores, wheedles, begs, orders, threatens — and Raffensperger says no.

At the time a hotly contested pair of races in the state of Georgia for its two Senate seats attracted national attention. If the Democrats beat the incumbents then they would become the majority party when Joe Biden takes office. The Republicans faced losing both races and their president was not helping by casting doubt on the validity of voting, chasing his base away from the polls. Eventually on the eve of the election he held a rally in a staunchly conservative county in Georgia where they say people think he’s God, and he preached about how his election was stolen, the election was rigged and he would be proven right and be inaugurated president again. At another mask-free, densely packed superspreader rally he whipped up the crowd with grievances with the Trump Lie. Almost as an afterthought he endorsed the two Republican senate candidates.

The day after the Georgia senate runoff was the 6th, the calendar day the Constitution says Congress certifies the electoral college. In the days leading up to both events Trump announced he would stage a rally. He wrote on Twitter: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big Protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Fifteen Republican Senators and over a hundred House members formed a bloc to object to certifying the counts of electoral college votes from the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania in hopes of overturning the election. Most experts assured the country it would not succeed because it would required a majority of both the House and the Senate to decertify each state, one by one, and the House alone had enough Democrats to defeat each objection. It was seen as a last ditch ploy of underhanded deceit.

As an extra measure Trump pressured his vice president Mike Pence, as presiding officer of the certification, to step out of his ceremonial presiding role to decree the tallies invalid and declare Trump the winner. Most people believed Pence would stick to the Constitution and certify Biden. Mitch McConnell advised his senators not to obstruct. If it ultimately accomplished nothing except pad a usually routine constitutional process with hours of debate over each contested state, it hyped up the drama. Between debates about the Big Lie in each chamber of Congress and the protest rally hosted by Trump, Wednesday the 6th promised to be an emotionally decisive day.

Be careful what you wish for when you live in interesting times.

As I began, Tuesday the 5th, runoff senate election day in Georgia, the peach state, the twelfth day of Christmas, 12 drummers drumming, it was plain Donald J Trump was plotting a coup over American democracy and must be stopped, and one of the ways to get it done was to see both Democrats win in Georgia. The buildup since the general election was horribly loud as the incumbent Republicans spent zillions more and saturated the airwaves with prophecies of socialist bedlam if Democrats win while the Democrats pointed to the flaws of the Big Lie and kept hammering the truth. It was Georgia where the presidential election shone the results of a movement to end voter suppression in the Deep South that kept costing Black votes. The votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were real votes. It could happen again for the Senate. Way up here in Minnesota I cared about the voters of Georgia. But there wasn’t much news during the day while the voting proceeded. Everybody had on their game face.

I spent most of the day watching the two year old Neko with Roxanne. I tuned into the news here and there to check on the Trump coup and the Big Lie but it looked the same. Pence under pressure to cave and pronounce Trump president, or devious plotters in the Republican party, elected members of Congress subverting democracy by invalidating votes they don’t like. Results from Georgia were hours away. Playing blocks on the floor with Neko, eating pancakes together and playing in the sink evoked my other side, a trusting soul who deeply believes people are good, if not innocent all the time. I look at this little girl and imagine what a fantastic world she can live in if things go right.

After the kid goes home, a quick nap, spaghetti dinner, the Georgia results start to come in but won’t mean anything for several hours. This is Georgia, after all, the poster child of the world of counting ballots, who found few irregularities out of millions of votes and no fraud or any shenanigans that would steal an election, three counts, whose public servants suffered death threats for performing their civic duties and did them anyway. They could be counted on to tabulate this mere senate race nice and tidy, but common sense said it would take all night to get it right. Georgia was credible though. Early returns yielded predictably Republican. Into the night the percentages began to change. By midnight Raphael Warnock the Dem had the lead in his race and the other Dem challenger Jon Ossoff was catching up slowly in his. I went to bed that night and woke up the next day with profound hope.

Amazingly in the morning Warnock was declared the winner and Ossoff was leading though it was too close to call. Roxanne was at work. Our Senator Amy Klobuchar was on TV calling herself one of the Coup Fighters, prepared to take part in all five debates challenging those states’ electoral votes no matter how late it dragged the proceedings in order to stop the coup. My son Vincent texted what are we doing and I said, Mom’s at work and I’m home guarding democracy. He invited me to go sledding with him and Neko for an hour before lunch. The joint session of certification wasn’t scheduled until after lunch. The only thing going on was Trump’s speech to the protesters in DC about an hour before Congress was supposed to convene. I knew what he was going to say, I’d heard enough of Trump Lies, I didn’t need more Trump if I could do better. So I texted back, Sure, and he said to be ready when he picked me up.

We went to the local hill by Vincent and Amelie’s house in Seward. Taking turns riding down in a red sled with our child, who seemed to be a budding thrill-ride seeker, Vincent and I exchanged talk about his job search, the imminent prospect of both Democrats winning the Georgia senate seats, and the long torturous process of prying the presidency loose from Trump’s cold deadly hands. Other moms and dads sledded the hill with their kids. Adults wore masks. The hill was wide enough to allow space between everybody, and it was strange we all avoided each other like we were alone except for eye contact and nods. A day care group from the park center came out for recess with their sleds and saucers, guided by the teachers. Neko watched the other kids with fascination. The younger of everyone on the hill, she observed how the day care kids fell in line behind their teachers when recess ended. Addressing her curiosity I explained the kids belonged to a school and one day soon she would go to school with other kids and make friends.

In the car Vincent plays classical music radio. On the way home I recalled aloud my childhood and going sledding on the Feast of Epiphany. Neko in her car seat in the back asked, “What you laughing about?” Vincent answered, we’re laughing that Grandpa actually had a childhood.

Back home I whipped up a sandwich and can of chicken and rice soup — broth for healing. For therapy. Trump was going to get comeuppance very soon and the truth laid bare when Congress certified the electoral college. Mike Pence would give Trump’s concession speech by proxy. The gavel would seal the deal. Anticipating acrimonious debate over the five challenges, the ordeal could last well past dinnertime. I looked forward to not only the Democrat speakers defending the integrity of the election in each contested state but was excited about actually listening to the Republican objectors rationalizing the disenfranchisement of millions of voters, most coincidentally people of color, to overturn the vote of the people and subvert the very democracy of the United States on behalf of one man and his party. How would they explain their congressional votes to overturn the election? Fraud? If so, did that include ballots that got themselves elected — no, of course not, the congressional elections we free and fair. This was going to be fun.

New Year’s Day Roxanne cooked a 27 lb turkey. For the two of us. She found it at Target, the last in the freezer bin, on sale for .79 cents a pound. She hauled it to the house from the car like it was a boulder. It thawed most of a week in the fridge. New Year’s Day it was perhaps the best turkey she ever made. She cut up the carcass and packed it in containers. Gave some to Vincent. Froze some. Baked a pot pie. And plenty on hand left over for sandwiches Wednesday the 6th.

Soup and sandwiches and a bigass civics lesson. TV’s on. Covid deaths are mounting and the gravely sick stretch hospital capacities. The joint session of congress prepares to convene. The Stop the Steal rally on the mall attracted thousands and the president had finished speaking — I had missed his speech for reasons I explained, I didn’t care. It was assumed the rally was over and the MAGA crowds would march around a while and honk their horns and eventually disband and go back wherever they came from, having had their say. It was assumed. And breaking news from Georgia hinted that soon both senate races would be called for the Democrats. Free and fair.

The vice president called the joint session of Congress to order in the House chamber more or less on time. They commenced the tedious reading of the electoral counts by state in alphabetical order. Alabama. Alaska. Arizona. At Arizona the parliamentarian recognized objections to their vote totals. By law the session adjourned so each house of congress would convene at their separate chambers for two hours of debate over the objections. They would then vote separately to accept or reject the objections. Both houses had to agree to carry the objections and reject the electoral votes. If one house voted to reject the objections the motion would not pass and the electoral votes for that state would be certified. With a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives it was assured none of the objections would pass and the electoral college certifications would carry. The exercises in objection would be an exercise in futility but after two hours debating Arizona it was supposed to happen again for Georgia, and again for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a process set to drag the usual thirty five minute procedure an extra ten hours.

The Georgia debates barely got going, and CNN cut back and forth between the Senate and the House trying to sense a rhythm to the speeches. My attention wasn’t transfixed yet. None of the speakers so far engaged me with compelling oratory. Republicans called for a quickie commission to review the voting systems and counting practices in doubt. Democrats asserted that the state had established and followed its own legal protocols and Congress ought not to interfere with its results. I let the TV play in the background while I stretched out to take a nap and letting my mind’s ear scan for anything extraordinary.

Wolf Blitzer abruptly cut back to the studio. I thought it would be the senate results from Georgia. Pictures showed demonstrators piling up by the hundreds outside the Capitol building. They battered the security fences down around the perimeter and rushed the steps and every entryway, the security cops unable to hold them back. The mobs scaled the walls to get to upper floor balconies. They smashed windows and doors to force themselves inside. It looked like thousands. In a matter of seconds before TV’s eyes the demonstration turned riot. Then insurrection. The mobs battled police with flag staffs and clubs to gain entry. CNN reporters on the street described chaos and mayhem. Wolf Blitzer didn’t know what to say. He cut back to the senate and house chambers as they each abruptly adjourned to take cover.

Journalists inside the building turned their attention to the mob storming through the Capitol. The lawmakers, staff and guests were hustled underground through tunnels to the dreaded undisclosed locations. This included Vice President Pence and his family, who were there to watch the ceremony. Reporters said they were all safe. House members were told to put on gas masks located under the seats of the chamber like life vests on an airliner before being led away. Reporters phoned in their stories if unable to establish network feeds. Live video, then smartphone video showed mobs roaring through the rotunda, the hall of statues and the corridors, more and more crashing trough windows and doors to get in. One video clip at some entrance showed Capitol Police holding the doors open for the crowd to pass through as though greeters welcoming guests — that didn’t look good.

The video accumulated, even as it began to repeat itself there were new pictures. Overwhelmingly white male but not exclusively, the insurrectionists were not dressed in suits and ties. It was a chilly day and they wore boots and jackets and canvas pants. Work clothes for a farmer or outdoor laborer, hunter, biker, teamster or ordinary guy for a Saturday. Some wore red baseball caps. Some more wore SWAT style battle dress and helmets, others camouflage. They carried flags, branding Trump, Don’t Tread On Me (whatever that means), the stars and stripes, the blue line black and white stars and stripes, the Confederate battle flag and various logos for obscure outfits too hard to discern in the heated moments — not exactly a parade with flag drill teams posing. Some guys beat cops with their flag staffs and threw them like spears. Some of the mob brandished clubs and bats. Cops got bombarded with fire extinguishers, and those things are heavy.

Inside the building the mob rampaged. No respect shown for the premises or its symbols. No respect for law enforcement. CNN asked, where is the National Guard? The FBI? ATF? Homeland Security? The Secret Service? DC Metro Police arrived within an hour of the insurrection and took positions to retake the Capitol and reinforce Capitol Police. It was acknowledged the Capitol building was overrun by the insurrectionists but sources insisted the elected leaders of Congress and their people were safe. Somewhere. It was suggested but unconfirmed Mike Pence and his family had been evacuated.

So how did this all come about?

While I was out sledding with my son and grandchild there had been a rally for Trump up the street on the National Mall near the White House. I knew it would be well attended and probably fraught with coronavirus. The featured speaker was of course Donald J Trump, but the lineup included conspiracy theorists from the alt-right, selected fringe right wing congressmen, and of course Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr, and Gollum in a suit and tie, Rudy Giuliani. I skipped all this predictable bazzfazz and malarkey and dismissed the proceedings as more Trump Lies. At the very best I hoped it would be Trump’s opportunity to thank everybody for their efforts and send them home to their mommies with a veiled farewell.

I never anticipated the worst, and that’s my epiphany.

He spoke for a long time. He made a big deal about the size of the crowd and said the fake news, enemy of the people would never show the entire crowd, which he estimated at 250,000. He tore apart the elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada, all with detailed precision describing fraud. He said he didn’t want to bore the crowd with detail, but he spoke in detail — so fluently you might think, if this stuff really happened this way then maybe the election was stolen after all. He belabored his insistence of fraud until his conclusions made common sense. He bragged about saving the Veterans Administration, deregulating the economy, cutting taxes and the usual accomplishments of prosperity, but he said nothing about the covid-19 pandemic except to blame China for what it’s done to the lives of those in the crowd.

He laid out a series of grievances at big tech companies and censorship aimed at conservative points of view. He held out the American way of life in the balance if the fraudulent election were not overturned. He exhorted Republican lawmakers to carry his torch and openly challenged Mike Pence to manually overturn the election or else. Highlights replayed from his speech show him telling his people to take back their country.

“Most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say I want to thank you very much, and they go off to some other life. But I said something’s wrong here, something is really wrong, can have happened,” he said in summary according to transcripts.

“And we fight,” he told them. “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

He concluded by directing the crowd down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give… [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

He offered to accompany them. Together. He thanked them. He called the event incredible. He God Blessed them and America. And then he went back to the White House and watched the rest on TV like me.

News also showed clips of Rudy Giuliani and Trump Jr revving up the crowd. Everybody urged the crowd to fight. Giuliani actually called for “trial by combat.” A congressman from Alabama told the crowd “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” He also made reference to American ancestors who gave their lives to create the greatest nation in world history and posed a question to the crowd, “Are you willing to do the same?”

Roxanne came home from work finding me watching cumulative loops of video of the insurrection, still in progress, no end in sight despite the arrival of DC Metro cops.

“It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt,” I said.

“Sounds bad on the radio,” said she. She looked at the TV pictures. “What the hell happened?”

I explained Trump held a rally, laid out his grievance case for fraudulent election and told the mob to march to the Capitol and take back the country. So they did. She asked if Trump has issued any statements to stop it. No, I said, he’s just hanging out at the White House watching it on TV, probably getting a huge kick. And where is the National Guard they supposedly had ready? Nowhere — the army told Capitol Police it would look like bad optics.

Bad optics is watching mobs of insurrectionists marauding the Capitol.

By the way, Jon Ossoff won the other election in Georgia along with Raphael Warnock.

We watched as law enforcement gradually took control of the building. Reporters said offices were sacked and vandalized. Elements of the mob were reported searching for certain legislators to apprehend, carrying zip-ties to use as handcuffs. A report said a woman had been shot dead trying to smash her way into a sensitively secure area and smartphone video showed it happening, the woman falling backwards into a blue Trump flag. I thought about a painting by Eugene Dellacroix showing a mob insurrection of the French Revolution of 1830 led by a bare breasted woman carrying the tricolor flag in tatters who came to symbolize liberty, equality and fraternity by the name of Marianne. I imagined the woman shot in the insurrection as believing she was a new Marianne leading a charge for a cause she would give her life for.

Gradually as sunset approached the police lines evacuated the Capitol and pressed the crowd in layers down the steps. There was a scene of a police officer daintily escorting what looked like a white haired lady in a long red coat down the steps hand in hand. More video came in showing the rampage inside. Reports confirmed looting and defecation. Besides the woman shot there were reports of three fatal medical emergencies (heart attacks?) among the rioters. After more intruders left the building they began to post pictures and videos of themselves on social media, proud of what they did. There was at least one selfie with a Capitol policeman.

As twilight faded and nighttime fell the police reestablished a blockade perimeter around the Capitol as squads swept through and cleared the interior of the building. No mention of arrests. It seemed like everybody got a free pass out the door. Pipe bombs were discovered at two nearby buildings, so far unattributed. The it was announced a Capitol Police officer died from head injuries suffered from being clobbered by a fire extinguisher. My Mexican pen pal Hariel emailed me the video captioned ¿America? of scenes I’d been watching all day and I had to think of something reassuring to say to reflect my true confidence not to worry, this too shall pass, and everything will be all right.

In Mexico the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated by a three milk cake. In the cake is hidden a little figure of a baby. Whoever gets the slice with the baby wins some kind of prize, or else gets to be in charge of bringing the tamales to next year’s fiesta, depending on who explains the cake and baby story.

My epiphany came with the realization this was not fun and games. It came with the trite phrase that this is not who we are. This is who we are. Yes, we tolerated the Trump Lie and let it spread and infect people like a pandemic. The Wolverine Warriors, Boogaloo Bois (pardon their French), Three Percenters, Proud Boys and all those neo-Nazi and white supremacist militias like the Ku Klux Klan have taken hold underneath the skin of our country and poisoned its neurology. We tolerate it like a sore thigh but can’t figure out how to treat it and cure it. The hardest part of the cure is that it gets turned around and used to justify the existence of the disease. The enemies of freedom use the cause of freedom to ruin freedom, and any effort to educate them infringes on their freedom to be stupid.

Donald J Trump’s long spiel enumerating voter fraud actually describes legal methods employed by states to enable citizens to exercise their right to vote, and the way he lays it out to his audience, bamboozle with technicalities and twists of the truth, he sounds convincing enough to be believed by people looking for any excuse to believe him because he says so. He’s lying but he claims freedom of speech, and that’s what these people want, freedom to believe stupid things and lies about their own country.

As the authorities swept the buildings clear and reinforcements expanded the perimeter of security around the Capitol and leftover demonstrators lingered around the Mall, Trump released a two minute video shot in the yard a short while ago at the White House where he addressed his supporters looking into the camera.

“So go home. We love you. You’re very special. We’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”

What does that mean, they’re all off the hook? He feels their rage. This is no more a comic book president. He has tapped into the very spinal cord of a dangerous and radically wrong social community and he was deliberately milking it to stay in power. They milked him to control the power. This was the Trump Lie Coup.

The insurrectionists most proud of themselves and who posted their pictures on social media must be expecting pardons if the keep their mouths shut. They’ll be done in by the GPS coordinates on their smartphones. Others will get fingered by surveillance cameras, each others social media, broadcast and cable media, internet journalists and the same kind of ways people learned about George Floyd. There’s no such thing as privacy in the public domain. Free speech means you put yourself out there. All those insurrectionists signed the digital guestbook. They are subject to arrest and prosecution. If they did it for civil disobedience then they’ll acknowledge the crime and intend to serve the time just to make a point. If they expect to get off they will find themselves facing gross inconveniences at the very least. The FBI guy said on TV the bureau has a long memory and a broad reach.

Eventually the Capitol interior was cleared of intruders and Congress emerged from lockdown. Pence and family were accounted for. The lawmakers and Pence agreed to go back to work that night and not finish the certification of electoral votes until each state was done. They resumed the debate about Arizona where they left off and voted to certify the electoral total, only instead of fifteen Republican votes against in the senate only six voted no, though over a hundred house members of 435 still did so after all the trouble. Some people never learn.

Determined to show the nation and the world that they would not be put off their constitutional duty, Congress worked deep into the night. Strangely the Republicans curtailed their objections, certifying Georgia, Michigan and eventually Wisconsin without a fight. Only Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes got challenged; maybe by that time the lawmakers needed a break, but after the cursory debates the count got certified. They finished certifying all the states around four in the morning. Biden Harris 306 to Trump Pence 232.

I did not stay up to watch. No need. I knew in my heart Mike Pence would not extraconstitutionally interfere and nobody in Congress would stop the certification. January 7 we awoke to a done deal. As my late father in law, Roxanne’s dad Ed Dukatz would say, it’s all over but the cryin’.

Ed would have voted for Joe Biden.

The aftermath of that day not two weeks ago offers America a rare opportunity for reckoning. Reconciliation. Rethinking. As Joe Biden might have said, this is a big effing deal.

In as little time as it takes the senate to confirm a supreme court justice, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald J Trump for the charge of incitement of insurrection. Primary evidence are Trump’s own words in his speech that sent the insurgent mob down the street to attack the Capitol now observed as a failed coup d’etat. It’s amazing how fast information comes at you these days. All these years of incidents and tweets and bad faith policy and failures to lead in crises and swindling voters with thousands of lies, and even after one impeachment a year ago, suddenly one day in January lit up everybody to pay attention to a few simple sentences he spoke to a crowd at a place in DC they call the Ellipse and urged them to storm the Capitol a few blocks away and overturn a free and fair election.

Like Trump’s own speech that day, which I skipped when it was live but I read the transcripts for context to the highlights and sound bites on TV — this is a golden age of information I hope everybody realizes — the body of the message relies on the false premise he really won the election and he spent a lot of words twisting and manipulating statistics from thin air in such a way they seem believable to somebody who doesn’t know any better, but he returns to his theme of grudges to direct blame away from his lies and to distract attention to common impulses to seize the moment and act to save his presidency right then and there. His whole career like his whole speech led up to a few sentences at the end to incite an appalling insurrection, but we saw it coming all along, this punchline of a long rambling joke of a presidency.

The insurrection after his rally that day was the answer to a call the mob had all been waiting for since they were told they were good people, they loved their country, they should stand back and stand by but not stand down. It was standard Donald J Trump operating procedure. Get other people to break the law on your behalf and walk away with clean hands. Not so fast this time.

The mob he sicced on Congress that day put up a noose on a scaffold being built for Biden’s inauguration, and it may as well have been strung up there as the very gallows to hang Trump. Swiftly the participants are being identified, and some arrested. Investigators are looking at collaborators within the halls of congress. Police bosses have resigned. A policeman committed suicide. More video of the raging mob seen from all kinds of angles within and outside the crowds reveal how scary the event was and how badly it could have gone. It’s a wake up, take it from me a resident of Minneapolis during the riots of George Floyd.

This is different but if played by the same rules then Minneapolis didn’t react any differently to prepare to repel rioters than DC and Capitol Police did, obviously expecting peaceful protest. It shows how dangerous things can get in a free society where you hope and trust and have faith in people to behave themselves, and some don’t.

The sudden revelation that radical right wing terrorism exists in America and extremists will fight to overthrow the government and establish a fascist regime under Donald J Trump coming just two weeks before the end of his term comes none too soon. A trio of dudes who called themselves White Rabbits stand convicted in the pipe bombing of a mosque hereabouts. If it takes the storming of the nation’s capitol to alert the nation to a serious existential threat to democracy that’s been there for years, then so be it. People say you should find the good in every bad situation. This event is a good lesson. Only five — only — died. Their lives are on Trump’s hands. He can’t wash his hands of the Capitol insurrection. He can’t escape the Proud Boys and White Rabbits. They’re his hired gunsels, and they’ve all been caught. Busted.

Yes, certain weasely voices try to blame the whole riot on leftist instigators and the anti-fascist extremists called antifa and the BLM, but that’s more Trump Lie. It’s been a hard week for the militant radicals on the right with much of their propaganda network shut down. It’s all just one big conspiracy after all. They ought to be heard so they can keep self-selecting themselves and be identified for the deplorable things they believe. It’s an interesting thing to ponder what kind of national mental rehabilitation process Germany went through after 1946.

Today Washington DC is a Green Zone, guarded and militarized like a fortress compound in a hostile allied country. It’s a real shame. Two weeks ago it was underprotected. Now it’s over fortified. Anybody who’s been there as a pleasant place to stroll might barely recognize it. It’s troubling to witness such a free park space in the capital of the best democracy on Earth turned into a militarized zone of check points like Charlie. Yes this is who we are. Thanks to free speech there were credible threats to DC and all fifty state capitals and other designated soft targets of potentially worse armed insurrection in the days surrounding the Biden Harris inauguration.

Through all the commotion, disinformation and uncooperation of the Trump administration, the Biden administration team takes shape. They are the team of professional elites distrusted and despised by malcontent fascists everywhere, and these elements should take notice. They should start packing — their bags not their sidearms. Real promise ahead with liberal leadership could possibly please conservatives interested in common prosperity.

One hopes. The exact crescendo or climax of the Trump administration is his second impeachment. He should be convicted this time, even in absentia. Apologists and defenders alike point out that with his term expired it only serves to further divide a deeply divided nation. I say letting him off the hook only divides us deeper. A reckoning for his high crime of incitement to insurrection offers everybody an opportunity to examine the stakes of democracy and a commitment to reconciliation. That means examining the responsibility of Donald J Trump for the propagation of the Trump Lie and banishing him from ever again holding public office. The Republican party needs to find another spokesperson who doesn’t offer a role model for reckless deceit, treason and criminal behavior.

Donald J Trump is America’s Osama Bin Laden.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking,” said Martin Luther King Jr whose birthday we celebrate today. “There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Saw a quote recently from that old leftist radical UCLA professor named Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

So much for the Serenity Prayer.

Trump leaves office in a few several hours. The morning of his departure he wants a full military sendoff, a parade, brass band, 21 gun salute, fighter jet flyover, whole nine yards. We’re see, as my sister Kerry would say. They say he’s going home to Mar a Lago, Florida. This is where his followers should follow him. They should establish encampments around or even on his property where they can wave their flags and express their First Amendment, Second Amendment rights, hold bunches of rallies and cry about their grievances. Donald Trump should welcome all those special people he loves to Mar a Lago.

In a matter of hours a sane, compassionate and honorable statesman named Joe Biden will be sworn President of the United States. It matters because it means the country’s being led again by bright people of good will and positive intent. I pause to savor the chance to think through my joy of the change to come. The world never seemed so important to save and for that a certain dictator had to get un-elected, replaced by somebody with democratic ethics and a mind for scientific truths and historical facts who understands American culture and can lever our exceptional aspirations to keep the planet going.

Yes, the election was rigged by a vast conspiracy. I and 84 million other voters conspired to all vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the election of November 3, 2020. We talked about it openly for years, voting against Trump, and given the chance and decent candidates we voted our hearts out, one by one.

It will not transform us like magic, but it could feel almost magical. Like a light in the sky America proves to the world a peaceful transfer of power at the most powerful nation on earth. Republican democracy. A democratic republic. Guess what, people, we can keep it.

We can put down the coronavirus pandemic. Operation Warp Speed got warped and not such speedy delivery of the vaccines. There were no backup stockpiles of vaccines at the federal level. Good news is the miracle that the vaccines exist at all. President Trump mismanaged federal response to the pandemic from day one, telling the public the disease was a hoax and admitting to journalist Bob Woodward on a recorded phonecall the coronavirus was deadlier than a virulent flu. For his mismanagement and malignant neglect thousands of people are sick and dying, and millions face harrowing straits as the pandemic’s economic situation bites. After 2020 and the sacrifices and deferred gratification, what a positive relief it’s going to feel when the graphs go back down and we stay healthier and feel more normal. A public health initiative across the country could mostly serve to accomplish more than lip service unity. In so many ways covid-19 the dreaded coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 saved America from Donald J Trump.

Neko is fifteen months old and will not remember this. Clara and Tess are teenagers so these are times they will never forget. The lesson of all this for my grandchildren is not to take their generation or their lifetimes for granted. Time passes no matter what you do or don’t do. When you experience interesting times make sure you accept it as a gift and not a curse. Wish with care and it might come true.

BK