A republic cannot survive the ignorance of its citizens

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On the roster: A republic cannot survive the ignorance of its citizens – House tees up impeachment – Trump shrugs off responsibility – Biden to unveil vaccine distribution plan soon – You really can’t, though

In our effort to respect the value of every life, we try hard here to avoid stripping human beings of their agency.

All of us beyond the age of majority and of sound mind are born with inalienable rights and unavoidable responsibilities. As unique individuals, we should be credited or blamed for the choices we make and their consequences.

But there is a strong tendency to not view people this way, but rather as instruments of larger forces – victims or beneficiaries rather than participants.

The trauma of Wednesday’s events having started to wear off, there is an enormous amount of this gobbledygook being dumped into the trench sewer that is the internet and social media.

By the way: Remember that there is no correlation between how much is being written and said and the significance of events. If there had been no riot, there would be just as many hot takes and rancid curds of motivated reasoning these days. There wouldn’t even be that much less outrage among the politically addicted. It is an ever-refilling reservoir of dumpster juice.

Accordingly much of the discussion around the attack on the Capitol has turned to the real causes of the Trump riot.

Unsurprisingly, the nationalists blame the system, man. Like those on the social justice left who sought to explain away the racially motivated riots of this summer, the nationalist right will tell you that sacking the halls of Congress in an effort to install their preferred leader in power is bad, buttttt… We should all consider how upset the criminals are about things – even if those things are not true. We should consider the feelings of the perpetrators, not just the facts.

Their progressive counterparts in the endless, debilitating struggle to see which side can be the most angry and aggrieved essentially blame everyone one millimeter right of center. This is the culmination of racism, sexism, capitalism and probably, if you scanned the internet closely enough, the consumption of animal proteins.

Bereft of the skills of argumentation and without any patriotic grace for those with whom they disagree, the mortar men and women on both sides lob their projectiles into the no-man’s land. They treat this not as a national crisis which must be resolved for the good of our nation and our posterity – a dire warning sign about the state of our shared enterprise – but rather an opportunity to again attack the other side.

Donald Trump and the Republicans who – many of them knowingly – perpetrated the massive fraud that that the presidential election was stolen certainly share the blame for the riot. If they had not been so convincing in their mendacity there would have been no mob and there would have been no riot. Everybody who served that pernicious lie, even in not rebutting it, ought to think of ways to atone for what they did.

But, again, the main responsibility rests with the ones who carried out the insurrection. They should have known better. They should have seen Trump’s effort for what it was. They should have been better citizens.

The fact that so many of them did not should cause us all to wonder what might be done to prevent the formation of the next, almost certainly worse, pitchfork brigade.

At the risk of committing the same offense that we have identified in others – using a crisis to advance our own agenda – we would humbly submit that the spectacle we saw on Wednesday was only the most florid consequence yet for a nation with a failed educational system – a system that almost completely ignores the need to equip young Americans to be good custodians of our republic.

We have heard from the left and the right for decades about the disaster that is our public education system. So how then could anyone be surprised that we now live in a nation where enthusiastic ignoramuses are ripe pickings for demagogues?

Certainly the collapsed institutions that taught and reinforced civics, patriotism, history and the duties of citizenship have played a part as well.

Boy Scout troops, churches, fraternal organizations and, most of all, strong families were the essential teachers of the Capra-esque American virtues that sustained us for so long.

But it is our public education system that is the single most influential government institution in America. Civics has nearly disappeared as a force and where American history is taught with much vigor it is often repackaged as a dark legend of social injustice. Rather than schools teaching young Americans about their birthright of freedom and the responsibilities that come with it, they are often told that this great enterprise was shamefully born and shamefully conducted. What’s the point of being a good citizen in a wicked nation?

Meanwhile, many voices on the right tell the young people of America that our nation’s best days are behind us. The same kind of nihilistic thinking that suckered Trump’s election lies will not do when it comes to educating young people about the state of things in America today. The rueful, resentful pessimism voiced by many on the nationalist right is poison to good citizenship and a terrible example for the young people in whose hands we place the future.

But then again, what would you expect from a political class that has no qualms about dumping a $27.8 trillion debt right in the laps of their descendants?

Many failures led us to this fretful past, but it is hard to think of one defect that has done more to endanger our future than the failure of our educational system, especially as it relates to government and history. We can’t help but wonder what all those billions of dollars spent to win one election would do if they were devoted instead to raising up a new generation of educated, engaged patriots. You can buy a Senate seat, yes, but you can also buy instruction and education, too.

There are many causes of our rotten educational system. You have heard them all before, and many of them have been reduced to meaningless partisan tropes. We do not offer any easy solution to what ails the schools and students of this land.

But we do know that we are sorely in need of the investment of resources and time into the badly needed work of teaching Americans what they have, how it works and what to do when it’s broken.

“The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. There are some which have a general and almost constant operation upon the collective bodies of society. Of this description are the love of power or the desire of pre-eminence and dominion–the jealousy of power, or the desire of equality and safety.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6

History: “On January 12, 1777, American Brigadier General Hugh Mercer dies from the seven bayonet wounds he received during the Battle of Princeton. Mercer’s military service ranged over two continents and three armies. Born in Rosehearty, Scotland, Mercer studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen and first served as an assistant surgeon in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army of 1745. After the Scots uprising against the British met its devastatingly bloody end at Culloden on April 16, 1746, Mercer returned to Aberdeenshire, where he spent a year in hiding before moving to Pennsylvania in March 1747. Once in America, Mercer enlisted in the army of the Hanoverian king, George III, whom he had sought to overthrow during the uprising in Scotland. During the Seven Years’ War, he first served in General Edward Braddock’s disastrous expedition of 1755, in which he was wounded, and then again with Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong’s army at the raid of Kittanning in 1756.”

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Fox News: “With only eight days remaining in President Trump‘s term, the House of Representatives is barreling toward a second impeachment vote in the coming days as outrage about the president’s role in the storming of the Capitol by his supporters last week continues to reverberate throughout Washington, D.C. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will take two major steps toward impeaching Trump, which would make him the only president to be impeached twice. Tuesday evening, the House will vote after 7:30 p.m. on a resolution from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., calling on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. That amendment sets up a process by which the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet may declare to Congress that the president ‘is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ The vote likely will not happen until very late Tuesday night.”

Would Trump push back? – Politico: “House Democrats are poised to impeach him on Wednesday. But President Donald Trump is not expected to mount a forceful White House defense against charges he incited last week’s deadly riots inside the U.S. Capitol, according to a White House official. Trump knows he’s unlikely to be removed from office with Republicans controlling the Senate until next week and only a few days left of his term. The president has also grown increasingly isolated, distrusting the same aides and advisers he had relied on during prior crises in his presidency, including White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. ‘We’re not building out an aggressive operation to combat these impeachment charges,’ a White House official said. ‘It’s just logistically impossible. Counsel’s office has hollowed out obviously, Cipollone hasn’t been in the president’s circle. … Operationally, it’s just not going to look the same.’ The resistance to building out an aggressive effort to push back on impeachment is reflective of a president both isolated and distracted by political grievances.”

Biden questions whether an impeachment trial could hinder his agenda – Fox News: “As Democrats prepare to impeach President Trump for the second time, President-elect Joe Biden is rushing to ensure the effort does not derail his legislative agenda or the confirmation of his Cabinet picks in the early days of his administration. Trump could be impeached as soon as Wednesday… The timing could thwart Biden’s pledge to ‘hit the ground running’ on coronavirus relief legislation, prompting him to ask the Senate this week whether the chamber could divide its schedule so that lawmakers could consider his agenda and impeachment at the same time. … Absent a broader agreement among leadership, Senate rules dictate that during impeachment – which often lasts for weeks – senators must meet six days a week, taking only Sunday off, potentially hindering the incoming administration. Biden signaled that he was exploring ways to advance his plan to tackle the dual health and economic crises while still pursuing impeachment.”

Trump, Pence grin and bear it – Bloomberg: “Vice President Mike Pence signaled he’ll spurn demands to immediately oust Donald Trump over a deadly riot by the president’s supporters as the two met and agreed to work together for the remainder of the term, according to a senior administration official. The discussion adds to indications that Trump has no plans to resign before Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. It was the first time Trump and Pence have spoken since the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol while Pence was presiding over formal affirmation of his re-election defeat, according to two people familiar with the matter. The two men, meeting in the Oval Office, agreed that people who broke into the Capitol don’t represent Trump’s ‘America First’ movement and pledged to continue their work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term, the official said.”

Impeachment draws deeper support this time around – FiveThirtyEight: “For the second time in his presidency, the House of Representatives looks set to impeach President Trump… And public support for removing Trump from office may be higher now than it was during the previous impeachment proceedings. … A weighted average of these polls, accounting for their quality, recency and sample size, finds that 52 percent of Americans support Trump’s ouster, while only 42 percent oppose it. … As you might expect, Democrats are the most eager to see Trump’s term cut short: 82 percent support it and only 13 percent oppose it. That’s about equivalent to the share of Democrats who supported Trump’s removal amid his impeachment at this time last year. Notably, however, independents and Republicans are both a little more more supportive of Trump’s removal now than they were a year ago.”

AP: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday took no responsibility for his part in fomenting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, despite his comments encouraging supporters to march on the Capitol and praise for them while they were still carrying out the assault. ‘People thought that what I said was totally appropriate,’ Trump said. He made the comments during his first appearance in public since the Capitol siege… Trump was heading to Texas on Tuesday to trumpet his campaign against illegal immigration in an attempt to burnish his legacy with eight days remaining in his term, as lawmakers in Congress appeared set to impeach him this week for the second time. … Speaking Tuesday, Trump said the ‘real problem’ was not his rhetoric, but the rhetoric that Democrats used to describe Black Lives Matter protests and violence in Seattle and Portland this summer… Trump was headed to Alamo, Texas, a city in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexican border — the site of the 450th mile of the border wall his administration is building.”

Internal FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol – WaPo: “A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and ‘war,’ according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm. A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington. ‘As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,’ the document says.”

But Trump blames Antifa – Axios: “President Trump on Monday privately — and falsely — blamed ‘Antifa people’ for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters. Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies. In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line. McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: ‘It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there,’ according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call. The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, ‘Stop it. It’s over. The election is over.’”

Inside the White House Trump watched Capitol riot live – WaPo: “Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side. But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas. ‘He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,’ said one close Trump adviser. ‘If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.’”

Justice Dept. pursuing 150 suspects – NYT: “The Justice Department and the F.B.I. have embarked on a nationwide manhunt to track down scores of people who attacked the Capitol last week, according to law enforcement officials, as they grapple with the fallout from the widespread government failure to protect the building. Investigators are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, a total that is almost certain to grow, an official said. Analysts are also scouring intelligence to identify any role that domestic terrorist organizations or foreign adversaries may have played in radicalizing Americans who were among the rioters, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigations. Some indication had emerged that at least some assailants initiated a more organized attack, Representative Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio and the chairman of the House subcommittee that has oversight of the Capitol Police, told reporters on Monday.”

Big business puts GOP in penalty box – Politico: “The breakup between the business world and the Republican Party is rapidly accelerating in the wake of last week’s deadly pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, posing a serious financial threat to the party just as it’s being stripped of power in Washington. Ten major companies so far, including some of the biggest corporate givers in politics, have decided to withhold contributions to Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of the Electoral College votes, and dozens more are stopping all of their political donations after the riot. Hallmark, MasterCard and American Express — all of whom doled out most of their political contributions to Republicans during the 2020 election cycle — announced Monday they were cutting off Republicans who challenged the election results. So too has Dow, the chemical company, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health insurance giant whose political action committee has favored Republicans in every election since 1996.”

Treasury Department sanctions Ukrainians who sought to aid Trump – NYT: “The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Monday against seven Ukrainians — including two who assisted President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani — for being part of what it called ‘a Russia-linked foreign influence network’ that spread ‘fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations’ about President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the 2020 campaign. Mr. Giuliani relied on two of the Ukrainians who were penalized — Andrii Telizhenko and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk — as he sought to gather damaging information and force government investigations into Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, related to Ukraine. … The sanctions announced on Monday stemmed from the Ukrainians’ work with Andriy Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, who was the target of sanctions by the Treasury Department last year and was accused of being a Russian agent and spreading disinformation about Mr. Biden.”

Politico: “President-elect Joe Biden is set to unveil a sweeping coronavirus vaccination plan on Thursday, calling the nationwide distribution effort his ‘number one priority.’ The plan, which Biden teased on Monday, will serve as the incoming administration’s roadmap to quickly vaccinating millions of Americans amid frustration over the slow rollout of the initial doses. ‘Three thousand to 4,000 people a day dying is just beyond the pale, it’s just wrong,’ Biden said Monday after receiving his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. ‘And we can do a lot to change it.’ Biden again vowed that his administration would fulfill its pledge of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office, despite rising concerns among transition advisers that the effort could fall short, as POLITICO reported earlier Monday. … Biden insisted that he still has full confidence in his Covid team, after POLITICO reported that he had grown frustrated over the progress of their vaccine distribution planning, including at one point conveying to the team that they were underperforming.”

Plans to push for quick confirmation of national security nominees – Politico: “President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is expected to make a major push on Tuesday that calls on Republicans to swiftly confirm the president-elect’s national security picks so they’re in place when the Democrat takes office next week. Amid fallout from the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol, Biden officials and congressional allies will begin making the case Tuesday that there is a unique urgency in getting the positions filled as soon as possible so there is no gap in national security during a presidential transfer of power, a person familiar with the strategy told POLITICO. The top priority for the Biden team is confirming Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, the source said, who added that the messaging push will take place in every forum, in and out of Congress.”

Roll Call: “The turmoil in the nation’s capital has erased concerns of an unruly transition to majority control in the Senate, with Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff set to be sworn in as early as next week after their Republican opponents, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, conceded. Georgia election officials told CQ Roll Call Monday that the ballot counting is going smoothly and the state is on track to certify the Democrats’ wins as early as Jan. 20, two days before the official deadline and a day after the Senate returns from recess. That’s earlier than political scientists and strategists on both sides of the aisle expected a week ago, when several said Loeffler and Perdue would almost certainly follow President Donald Trump’s lead and contest the results if they lost their Jan. 5 runoffs.”

Kemp discusses his political path forward – AJC: “Gov. Brian Kemp has been counted out before… But never has he faced the political bind he’s in now, squeezed from both sides of the ideological divide by political forces he’s unable to contain or corral. Democrats led by his archrival Stacey Abrams flipped Georgia in the presidential race and swept the U.S. Senate runoffs, ousting Kemp’s appointee Kelly Loeffler in the process. Once, Loeffler was seen as a potent Kemp running-mate in 2022. Now her defeat could be a harbinger of GOP struggles ahead. On his right flank, President Donald Trump vows to champion a Republican to primary Kemp next year, infuriated the governor didn’t attempt to illegally overturn Georgia’s election. At GOP events that once showcased Kemp’s popularity, crowds now chant that he’s a traitor to the conservative cause. Coming off a string of GOP defeats in high-profile contests, Kemp’s political position may be more perilous than it ever has before.”

NYT: “Sheldon G. Adelson, a cabdriver’s son who built the world’s largest empire of casinos and resort hotels in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore and other gambling meccas and used his vast wealth to promote right-wing political agendas in America and Israel, died on Monday night. He was 87. The cause was complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, his company, Las Vegas Sands, said on Tuesday in a statement. It did not say where he died. Mr. Adelson grew up tough, a Depression-era street urchin who hawked newspapers and fought roughnecks in Boston. Unfazed by risks, rivals or the law, he built a fortune estimated by Forbes in 2014 at $36.6 billion and by Bloomberg Billionaires Index at $40.8 billion, making him the world’s eighth or ninth wealthiest person.”

Deflated: Bill Belichick declines to accept Presidential Medal of FreedomFox News

“The most masculine person I think to ever hold the White House is the president of the United States.” – Trump National Press Secretary Hogan Gidley’s response when Bill Hemmer asked if the president felt emasculated from “the social media crackdown.”

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The Smoking Gun: “When Ohio cops questioned him about a neighbor’s complaint that he was blasting music at 1:30 AM Saturday, Nathan Rock offered a justification, of sorts, for his rocking out. … Rock’s 60-year-old neighbor told the Erie County Sheriff’s Office that he ‘began to play music loudly and was singing,’ which prompted her to text him with a demand that the music be turned down. Rock … apologized, explaining that he was ‘trying to practice singing as he intended on booking studio time in the near future to record an album.’ When a sheriff’s deputy spoke with Rock at Wendy’s, the aspiring performer copped to the early morning racket and ‘justified his actions by stating you can’t play Led Zeppelin quietly.’ While Rock’s statement is certifiably true, the lawman still warned that Rock would be charged with disorderly conduct if police received another noise complaint.”

Chester [the black lab] would try to make his way through a narrow sliding door, find himself stuck halfway and then look at me with total and quite genuine puzzlement. I don’t think he ever got to understand that the rear part of him was actually attached to the front.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on June 10, 2003.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here. 

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