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writing for godot

A January 6th Commission? We Need a November 3rd Commission

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Wednesday, 03 March 2021 05:13

To examine the "facts and causes" of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a commission like that which investigated the 9/11 attacks. House members on the left and right have already drawn up separate bills prescribing who would choose commission members. Skeptics wonder how non-partisan members can possibly be found in today's polarized climate.

There is already disagreement. Democrats want to stack the deck with seven of their own on the commission against four Republicans, with only the Democrats granted subpoena power. "Partisan by design" said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He's right. If the Democrats' design were to go forward, the commission's findings would be written off as rigged.

Missing from either draft is a provision requiring that none of the commission panelists be current politicians. Imagine a commission disrupted by gaslighting members like Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Josh Hawley. All should be several years removed from government to maximally purge today's toxic partisanship.


Learning what went wrong on that January day — the dysfunction in the security services that caused the Capitol to be poorly defended, the threat posed by white supremacist terror groups, their planning and coordination in the days leading up to the assault — all is of fundamental importance. But much is already known. After all, the insurrection was televised, its slogans and banners for all to see. In our selfie age the rioters filmed their own attack, handing the FBI footage to identify perpetrators and evidence to open some 400 cases against them. Congress is already conducting its own hearings. There are already recommendations, even.

That means there will be heavy redundancy in the proceedings as a commission trudges on for months. The public has seen it all and will not tune in. The really crucial job for which a commission is needed goes ignored and undone: dismantling "the Big Lie" believed by millions that the election was stolen.


In "Popular Delusions and the Madness of Trump", we made clear that Donald Trump alone created the lie. Others hooked a ride — Rudy Giuliani expecting $20,000-a-day fees, Sidney Powell seeking fame, Mike Lindell to sell pillows, Bill Barr to keep his seat of power — but the originator and promoter of the plot was entirely Trump.

For months before the election he laid the groundwork. “The only way we can if cheating goes on”, he had said. Mailed-in ballots would be rife with fraud. "Millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries". Counting of mailed-in ballots, foreseen as mostly used by the more pandemic risk-averse Democrats, would only begin on Election Day in most states. That meant that Trump would lead on election night from in-person voting by Republicans, and Biden would gain in the days thereafter as mailed ballots were counted.

That eventuality, called "blue drift", was explained in the mainstream media but not by Fox hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity and the right wing commentators. They would use the phenomenon to support Trump's claim of fraud as Biden's votes rolled in. That Biden's votes mysteriously came later would be the crux of Trump voters' belief of a stolen election perfectly stated by one Ashley Klein, a Minnesota horse trainer interviewed by The New York Times who couldn't believe what was happening.

"All of the sudden, just out of nowhere, all these states started going for Biden when Trump had been ahead for hours and hours and hours...I just kind of feel like there was something fishy".

Trump had begun insisting as far back as July that we “must know Election results on the night of the Election" when he would be in the lead, "not days, months, or even years later!" In the early hours of the next day as the mailed-ballot count for Biden grew, Trump rhetorically asked his followers, "Did I predict this?". They had been primed to believe him.

"Frankly, we did win this election…This is a major fraud on our nation…We'll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop."

That day he tweeted, "STOP THE COUNT!. The mailed ballots, for their being counted after election night, became illegal votes. “If you count the legal votes, I easily win”, Mr. Trump said from the White House briefing room two days after the election. "If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us, if you count the votes that came in late".

The election was "rigged" in many tweets such as "We won't let a RIGGED ELECTION steal our Country!" until the operative adjective became "stolen", his disciples brandishing "Stop the Steal" placards. With no evidence, he tweeted it was the "MOST CORRUPT ELECTION IN U.S. HISTORY". He needed no evidence. His people believed whatever he said.


In a December Fox News poll, 68% of Republicans believe the election was stolen. Among Trump voters, 77% thought he actually won. So did 26% oJUST f independents and even 10% of Democrats. That hasn't changed since. In an early February Quinnipiac poll, 76% of Republicans believed there was "widespread fraud in the 2020 election". In late February, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll has 73% of Trump voters thinking that Biden was not legitimately elected.

The Trump campaign's battalions of lawyers and allies filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts of states the president lost seeking to overturn election results only to compile a stunning number of losses. Argued before judges that included 39 appointed by Trump, all save one case failed. In the single victory involving few ballots a Pennsylvania judge disallowed "curing" information missing after the fact. ("Big legal win in Pennsylvania!", Trump tweeted). Cases were dismissed for a number of reasons but the prevailing theme was that the lawyers had gone to court without evidence to support their complaints. Where was proof of thousands of people "double voting” by assuming other identities, ballots cast in the name of dead people, undocumented immigrants allowed to vote?

“It really should put a death knell in this narrative that has been peddled around claims of vote fraud that just have never been substantiated,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, about the court cases. She couldn't be more wrong. The Trump base famously listens only to sources that tell them what they want to hear. Trump had for all his four years told them the media was "the enemy of the people" who dispense only "fake news". From the election to the insurrection, they were hearing or reading a steady barrage of lies from him.

It's a sure thing that this overwhelming refutation of Trump's claims in courts was not pointed out to Fox News watchers, nor by Newsmax, nor by AON, nor by way-right "fact-based, unbiased" Epoch Times. When Fox became hesitant in claiming a stolen election, these other outlets went further in spreading the Big Lie in hopes of taking viewers from Fox.

Nor were the courtroom losses the daily topic of conversation on talk radio. Trump loyalists were hearing from Mark Levin — his 11 million listeners —that stealing elections “is becoming the norm for the Democrat Party”. Bill Cunningham, a syndicated host broadcasting from Cincinnati told his audience he would "never surrender…when hundreds of thousands have voted illegally". On his syndicated show, Dan Bongino, said Democrats “rigged the rules to make sure that any potential outcome would go their way”.

So it's not unreasoned to ask whether the Trump faithful had ever even heard of Trump's total defeat at court and, if so, do they think the courts are rigged, too?


Belief in the Big Lie that the election was stolen is the state of mind that Trump has imprinted on a huge percentage of the American electorate, as well as the corollary that the elective process is corrupt and can no longer be trusted.

Ms Pelosi's and fellow members of Congress's lives were at risk on January 6th. Perhaps that explains why the emphasis is a commission that looks into the attack on the Capitol and the insurrectionist groups. But if she hopes to shore up America's democracy and in the process keep the Democratic majority in the House, and if Democrats dare hope to edge into the majority in the Senate, they had best wake up to the urgent need for a differently focused commission, a well-promoted and televised 9/11-style commission that investigates and exposes the right wing's lie about who won the election. Without this, the public's belief in a stolen election will not abate and ongoing elections, beginning with 2022, will be met with the same claims of fraud because nothing was done to shred conspiracy myths about the 2020 election root and branch.

The premise for such a commission is rather simple: Do you claim there was election fraud? OK, prove it.

One by one, in case after case, summoned by subpoena with enforced contempt penalties for non-compliance, have those lawyers bring forth the evidence they presented to judges in those 62 cases. In plain language, lay out those complaints before America. In each instance where an impropriety or irregularity is claimed, where someone has sworn out an affidavit reporting someone seen doing something questionable, force that forward. Let's all see how serious that was, if true. Keep score for that state whether that legally questionable act was a misdemeanor or a felony or nothing, whether it and other claims would have affected who was elected president.

Republicans would on the spot. How could they argue against such a commission? How could they pretend a commission isn't precisely what they want, their opportunity to prove their case of fraud and "irregularities" that cost Donald Trump his reelection.

Without this commission we are seeing Republicans wholly embrace the notion that the election was stolen. Just over a month since his removal from office, CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, invited the twice-impeached former president, the man who committed the most treasonous act conceivable under this Constitution for his attempt to overthrow an election in order to stay in power, to speak at their convention, where he claimed continued ownership of the Party and hinted at a possible run in 2024 with, "We won the election twice, think about it, twice...I may even decide to beat them for a third time". That CPAC scheduled nine panels on how fraud stole the election should tell somnolent Democrats that will be the Republican platform. A failure to establish a commission to very publicly lay bare the Big Lie allows the lie to live on.

For more where this came from, such as our take on the minimum wage, click to visit Let's Fix This Country. your social media marketing partner
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