Moving on

The historic second impeachment of former President Donald Trump came to a sudden, yet anticipated end on Saturday. The defense concluded their argumentation on Friday after only a few hours, and the Senate thus met on Saturday anticipating closing arguments from both sides which would then transition into a vote. The House Impeachment Managers surprised everyone at the opening procedures on Saturday when they announced they wished to subpoena a witness, based on a CNN news report on Friday night. After intense deliberation and argumentation, both sides agreed to include the written statement from the witness, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, thus not needing her to appear in court and delaying the case, or perhaps more disconcerting for several parties: opening up for more witnesses being subpoenaed, and thus prolonging the trial.

As the Senate had voted before the start of the trial itself on all issues concerning procedure, it really should not have come as a surprise that the impeachment managers might bring up the topic of witnesses on Saturday, as that was the agreed upon time in the trial that they could do so. Well, not Saturday per se, but after the defense councel had closed their up to 16 hours of main proceedings.

It was also no surprise that Trump was acquitted, as a 2/3 majority was required for a conviction. That meant that 17 Republican senators would have to vote to convict. The result was 7, meaning 57 votes to convict, and 43 to acquit.

It seems as if some GOP senators voted to acquit because they did not agree with the ruling last Tuesday on the constitutionality of impeaching a former president, now a private citizen. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who was the senate majority leader during the Janury 6th insurrection and who was still the senate majority leader when the House of Representatives sent the article of impeachment to the Senate, scathingly denounced former President Trump’s actions on January 6th within minutes of voting to acquit him. One can wonder: to what end?

Personally, I have a hard time believing the Founding Fathers intended to allow a loophole like the January exception that has now been created, knowing the lengths they themselves went to to stand up to the oppressors from Great Britain back in the 1770s and 1780s. Granted, the Founding Fathers themselves were insurrectionists, but to compare them to the insurrectionist mob of January 6th 2021 would be an insult. The Founding Fathers based their actions on enlightenment ideals, with human and civil rights and democracy as goals, in a time with no internet, no phone and no telegraph. Have modern-day amenities left us more ignorant and unwilling to think for ourselves, left us susceptible to demagogs and politicians with agendas beyond “support[ing] and defend[ing] the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”?

Hilde

The Second Impeachment Is Underway

Yesterday the US Senate convened to decide whether the 2nd impeachment of former President Donald J. Trump is constitutional. The House Impeachment Managers and the legal counsel for the former president argued approximately two hours each in order to convince the Senate of their opposing views on the legality and constitutionality of the impeachment. The House Impeachment Managers apparently gave the most convincing argument, as at the end of the day all 48 Democrat Senators, the two independent Senators and six Republican Senators affirmed the impeachment as constitutional.

So today and tomorrow will be dedicated to the House Impeachment Managers presenting their arguments. Friday and Saturday are dedicated to the former president’s legal counsel. The proceedings after that depends on how long they need to debate, and whether they will allow witnesses in the legal proceedings.

We need to keep in mind that the jurors in this impeachment trial are also victims of and witnesses to the siege of Capitol Hill on January 6th. Regrettably, the TV audience is not able to see the senators and their reactions to the arguments laid before them by the House Impeachment Managers today as they seek to remind them of Trump’s propagation of “the Big Lie” which they argue led to the insurrection on January 6th. I cannot but wonder who is more affected by the line of argument, the tweets, videos and timelines presented: the TV audience whose sole focus is on the prosecution / defense and the evidence they put forth. Or the victims / witnesses / jurors whose focus I can only hope is directed there as well. I wonder whether being on the Senate floor precisely five weeks later, with the Impeachment Managers reminding the jurors how they were victims and witnesses that day, will affect their faith in and oath to the Constitution.

The 2020 election finally concluded

After hours of interruption by rioters breaching Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence and a joint session in Congress affirmed President-Elect Joseph Biden as the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election. The joint session of Congress confirmed his victory by acknowledging the 306 Electoral College votes, although various Republican senators and representatives objected to the election results in some states. After debates in separate chambers at each objection, the majority of the joint session still voted to uphold the results by the Electoral College.

Only hours before it also became clear that the run-off election in Georgia the day before had resulted in both Senate seats going to the candidates from the Democratic Party, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. That means that the Senate is tied between the Republicans and Democrats, leaving the Vice President with the tiebreaker vote.

In the News: simply chaos or an attempt at a coup?

What should have been a symbolic day when the USA were once again going to draw upon its centuries-old traditions instituted by the Founding Fathers, when Congress were going to certify the votes by the Electoral College, so far the proceedings are halted. The events are still unfolding, so we do not yet know the fallout. But Congress is evacuated, demonstrators (by some media called a “mob loyal to Trump”, others implying that they are terrorists) have broken into Capitol Hill and have entered politicians’ offices and both the House Chamber and the Senate Chamber.

The President-Elect calls it an insurrection and an attack on democracy in a meeting with the press. The President eventually released a video on Twitter asking the protesters to go home, but emphasizing again that the reason for their protests is justified as the election was stolen from him. On the day when Congress was about to certify the election results, confirming that Biden won by the same amount of electoral votes that Trump won four years ago. Still Trump claims, even today in a misguided attempt at calming the protesters, that he won by “a landslide”.

Is this the epitome of Trump’s legacy?

You can follow the events as they unfold in any news source right now, but for future reference a link to a BBC site can prove useful.

Looking back at 2020

In our last lesson before Christmas we brainstormed what has happened during the autumn of 2020, since we have discussed the events in class on a weekly basis, but not maintained the blog for future reference. We proved to ourselves that not only are we able to dig deep into our memories and remember the important events when we put our heads together; we are also better at seeing how events are linked, influence each other and how they can twist, turn and develop in expected and unexpected ways. The items below are the most important events of the last half year, even though we touched upon other topics as well.

The US Supreme Court

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on 18 September 2020. That started a race for the president to get a third justice nominated and approved before the election, ending in the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on 29 September and her confirmation on 26 October 2020. The Democrats were none too pleased that the Republicans refused to confirm President Obama’s nominee 10 months before the 2016 election, arguing that the electorate should have their say in choosing the president who would get to nominate someone for such an important position. That did not stop the Republicans from doing a one-eighty four years later, nominating and confirming their candidate only weeks before the presidential election on 3 November 2020. Rather they can congratulate themselves on having confirmed three Supreme Court Justices during one single presidential term.

The US presidential election

On 3 November 2020 the US experienced record voter turnout. It took days to count and recount the votes, though by the Saturday Joseph R. Biden, Jr was announced the winner and for the first time in American history a woman, and a woman of colour, was elected vice president: California Senator Kamala Harris. The incumbent president, Donald J. Trump, has filed more than 50 lawsuits in a pursuit to overturn the election results in several states. Most have been rejected, some are still being processed. The two Senate seats in Georgia could not be filled in the November election, so they held a runoff election on 5 January 2021. That proved to be quite exciting, since the November Senate election left the Republicans with 50 Senators, the Democrats with 48.

Campaigning for the presidential election and the aftermath of the election has been highly partisan and with some unprecedented behaviour and accusations. The first presidential debate, for instance, did not leave either candidate a good option for the American electorate and the candidates failed gravely in both rhetoric, behaviour and appeal. Trump’s later comment to the right-wing organization Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” did nothing to calm matters.

The pandemic

Under the current Administration, Covid 19 has run rampant in the American society making the USA one of the hardest hit countries during the entire 2020. In October it reached the White House. Central politicians in the administration took part in so-called “superspreader events” both at the White House and at campaign rallies through the summer and autumn, all the while rejecting wearing face masks as effective. Well, the problem might really have been that many people in the USA do not regard Covid 19 as particularly dangerous the President even initially claiming that the common flu is more lethal.  

The UK has not got off scot-free either. They have had several lockdowns, central politicians have been affected just like in the US, and the UK are exhausted and tired from the restrictions in society, like everyone else. Additionally, they, like in the USA, are experiencing higher unemployment and a growing number of poor people. It has gone so far that UNICEF has started a domestic emergency response in Britain.

Congress in the USA has had difficulties agreeing on financial relief funds for their citizens as well.

#BlackLivesMatter

The year has seen many killings of and attacks on people of colour. It all came to a peak with the death of George Floyd in May. But many Black people have been killed both before and after, in intentional and accidental attacks, by civilians and police alike. During the summer and autumn of 2020 there have been several attacks on police headquarters, many demonstrations and protests, more violent than non-violent, and the national guard has been sent to help (or incite) in many affected areas.

Brexit

After years of negotiations and changing Cabinets thrice since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the UK and the EU finally agreed on an exit deal in December. The deal was officially approved by both Houses of Parliament on 31 December 2020, ensuring soft Brexit and not a no-deal hard Brexit.

The British monarchy

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior members of the royal family in 2020. They also left the UK and moved to California. The Duke is still the sixth in line to the throne.

America burning

The brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis has led to days of unrest and riots. While most demonstrations are peaceful, some are also out of control and resulting in looting and violent behavior. What is going on in America? What is president Trump doing to deal with the situation? Read up or watch recent news stories to get an update. Look at the following article for a discussion on how this would have been portrayed in the news had it happened somewhere else:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/29/how-western-media-would-cover-minneapolis-if-it-happened-another-country/?fbclid=IwAR010KdADTd_il3yvzPcoDxJKpWKbLdOP5i0PjaLMnTh5WuWCZcWfurZIVc

Langston Hughes was a Black American poet who lived from 1901 to 1967. Read his poem “Let America be America again” from 1936 (in the midst of the Great Depression) and discuss its relevance today.

https://poets.org/poem/let-america-be-america-again

George Floyd 'riots,' 'violence,' 'looting': Words matter, experts say
https://eu.lancastereaglegazette.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/31/george-floyd-riots-violence-looting-words-matter-experts-say/5290908002/

In the news

Bernie Sanders has withdrawn his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, and the Corona virus continues to spread…How did the United States — the richest country in the world — become the worldwide epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with one person dying of COVID-19 every 47 seconds? And how likely is it that Trump will be reelected in November? What implications does it have that Bernie Sanders is out of the presidential race? Can Biden beat Trump? And are female leaders more able to deal with the Corona crisis than their male counterparts?

Study the articles below and be ready to discuss these questions:) And then there’s Obama… maybe the most important supporter Joe Biden has…listen to this:)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/?fbclid=IwAR2I7j4yDm7omdvlysnkOhqvOwiJmOOEIsHf7bVEdtABzAfZ2Yy3wjPWCX4#1a077c803dec

And look to New Zealand and PM Jacinda Ardern: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/15/world/jacinda-ardern-pay-cut-coronavirus-intl/index.html

After our group talks today, discuss (in the comment field below) what message Obama is trying to get across here, and how he does it. Point to language features and/or literary devices he uses and explain how they reinforce his message.

In the news week 14 – how the Corona virus affects the ones already worst off…

Here are three articles to read and discuss this week:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/india/india-coronavirus-social-distancing-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51949125

https://time.com/5800930/how-coronavirus-will-hurt-the-poor/

The first one is from India, the second from South Africa and the third from the USA. After skimming through them, what do they seem to have in common? What do you think the implications of what is happening now will be for the poorest communities in these countries and others?