The Season Finale

There are so many takeaways from Thursday’s season one finale of the Jan. 6th Trump Insurrection Hearings TV series.

But before we get into the serious stuff, let’s understand that this 8th episode was, more than anything else, great TV.  

As such it delivered not only plot, drama and prosecutorial bread crumbs, but something for EVERY type of viewer –especially us silly and superficial ones.

Say it with me now!

Yes, yes, yes, as our beloved Stefon might say if he were still here (Note: And where is he????), this episode had EVERYTHING:

1. Two plus hours of an insanely hot Clark Kent lookalike sitting directly behind live witnesses Matt Pottinger and Sarah Matthews.  He nearly broke Thirst Twitter and, quite honestly, made it difficult for the Chair to focus at times.

Look who left Metropolis!

And, for what I’m sure is only a very small handful of readers who care (Note: Ahem), his name is Alex Wollet, he’s 23 and a med student/Ohio University grad studying neuroscience, currently doing a residency at the National Institute of Health. 

That’s right – a soon to be…DOCTOR! 

Though word is that he might NOT be single (and could be the boyfriend of Ms. Matthews) I truly have no idea and would much prefer picturing him merely writing a story about all this for The Daily Planet and everything that might entail.

Please get this renewed for season 2

2. The once in a lifetime chance of hearing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) say the words delicate flower and (former attorney general) Bill Barr in the same sentence. 

Chastising critics who have publicly knocked her and the work of the committee for being biased and one-sided because there were no hand-picked Republicans chosen by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy serving among their ranks, Rep. Cheney icily turned to the camera in her final summation address and rhetorically proclaimed to all of those doubters:

Do you really think Bill Barr is such a delicate flower that he would wilt under (that) cross-examination?

Add a hair flip!!

(Note: It’s worth stating Cheney, one of two Republicans actually appointed to the committee, is about as conservative a member of Congress as you can get, voting with Trump a whopping 94% of the time)

Why can’t you let me enjoy things, Chairy??

3. The juxtaposition of fist pumping, pre-insurrection fueling Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), with mid-insurrection footage of Road Runner-like Sen. Hawley leaping through the halls of the Capitol building and then bouncing down its stairs, with folders full of god knows what, in a hurried, last ditch attempt to elude that rabid crowd of patriots he had emboldened just several hours prior.

His escapades sparked a series of soundtrack memes, my favorite being the one to the tune of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire:

Certainly, there were scores of other revelations, eyewitness testimony, clarifications, framings and reiterations of what happened three plus hours from the time Trump encouraged what we now know were his very well-armed mob of supporters – HIS PEOPLE that we now realize, thanks to this committee, he told security NOT to disarm because he knew THEY had no intention of harming HIM. 

These were the same armed people he shouted to at his rally right before the insurrection started to FIGHT LIKE HELL if they wanted to keep their country.

Lay Translation:  Do whatever it takes to stop the certification of the results of this election.

A thrilling first season

But let’s get back to specific Thursday night revelations:

— A recounting of phone conversations between members of Mike Pence’s Secret Service/security detail on the phone with their loved ones saying goodbye in case they didn’t survive the oncoming onslaught of rioters meant to hang the former vice-president right before our eyes.

– A compelling timeline of puppet master Trump first throwing virtual gasoline onto HIS PEOPLE to spark the planned demonstrations/riots/violence and then unapologetically watching and listening to a more than 3-hour romp of desecration and death onto the Capitol building and those unlucky enough to be inside it despite pleas from TRUMP family, staff and staunch political allies for him to call it off.

Serving real Regina George energy

–  Numerous live and taped accounts of the former president seated in the head chair of his small private dining room, ALONE, hamburger(s) in hand, gleefully glued to Fox News like a demented Wimpy.  His response to those who dared to physically or virtually enter his space and ask for some action or protection or plan to protect the elected representatives in Congress from HIS PEOPLE was outright refusal or deflection.  That is unless you count numerous calls BY TRUMP to various senators and congresspersons in an eleventh hour attempt to get them to stall the ceremonial counting of the Electoral College votes that would rightfully declare Joe Biden president and confirm Trump as the official LOSER of the 2020 election.

Sowwy

Certainly, other high and low points exist, depending on your view of high and low, your commitment to not only truth telling but truth HEARING. 

There are also more questions to be asked, especially in light of all the mysterious missing Secret Service text messages from Jan.6th (and even 7th).

One that comes to mind is:  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the now deleted texts between Trump’s Secret Service detail and Pence’s Secret Service detail that day considering Pence’s refusal mid-insurrection to get in the car, driven by HIS Secret Service agents, and leave the Capitol Building area?

A real headscratcher

As the Vice President, who was steadfast to record the final votes on that date no matter what, was said to have stated to one of his assigned protectors as they attempted to whisk him away and out of the vicinity of the Capitol building:

If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off.  I’m not getting in that car.

What exactly DID Pence fear?  Where WAS the Secret Service taking him and for how long?  And at WHOSE DIRECTION would his evacuation be done at???? 

Also, how is it that the Secret Service claims of updating their communication systems conveniently occurred on Jan. 6, which we now know was a long-planned date by team Trump for a mass rally (Note: Riot?) that the then POTUS tweeted days before would be WILD; and close Trump confidante Steve Bannon previewed would be THE DAY ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE to his podcast audience?

Gotta check my notes here

Okay, admittedly that’s more than one question – among so, so many others. 

This is why rather than closing up shop like the limited series they had planned, the committee will actually have a season 2 starting not next year but in September.

Just how many episodes or for how long, depends on, as is the usual case with MUST SEE TV, public response. 

Next season produced by Ryan Murphy (get your wigs out Sarah Paulson!)

Let’s hope we, the public, nee citizens, choose wisely.   And that the programming from Cheney and company avoids that cursed sophomore slump.

Though her closing admonition re team Trump – The damn is beginning to break –does give me hope.

Josh Hawley running to Benny Hill

We Alone Can’t Fix This

I spent the last several weeks reading all 500 plus pages of the #1 NY Times bestseller, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year, by the extremely thorough Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phillip Rucker.

The book is alternately fascinating, disturbing, infuriating, disorienting, dull, sick, perplexing, darkly humorous, scary and long. 

At times I wished it were a little less even-handed and journalistically proper.  But when you write something so exhaustive on a subject and subject matter such as this I suppose the true gangsta move is keeping your reportorial cool.

This is the energy I bring to writing about Trump

It brought back how I felt watching David Lynch’s very straightforward 1999 film, the very aptly titled A Straight Story. 

Why would the creator of cutting edge classics such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, and the director of such oddly entertaining works as Lost Highway and Wild at Heart, make a G-rated movie about the true story of an old man who drives his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his sick brother?

Well, as Lynch himself explained to us (Note:  Okay, me) at the time, it was for that very reason.  By just sticking to a straight narrative of facts, it actually was his most daring, his most experimental film.

Believe it!

In that same way, there was no other course for Leonnig and Rucker to take in chronicling Trump’s last 12 months in office and have it land in any more of a meaningful fashion.

After all, how do you even begin to get any more twisted and salacious than Trump himself? 

And what would be the point in trying? 

This brings to mind the response I received, in various forms, from EVERY ONE OF THE SEVERAL DOZEN PEOPLE I told I was reading this book over this period time.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?

This is an approximation of what they looked like

Of course, not everyone said it exactly that way.  Some just gave me a look, or silently nodded their heads, or explained they couldn’t because they lived it, or apologized they wouldn’t because it was too upsetting and their mental health was already precarious, or responded in person or on the phone with the kind of thick stony silence that tells you the person you’re speaking with has ZERO interest in pursuing this discussion or subject any further (you can hear editor Holly’s reaction on our newest podcast).

In other words, Chairy, BACK OFF!

And then this happened…

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from sometimes throwing a few tidbits in.

As Stefon might say, this book and that year had everything –

a. A pandemic the Leader of the Free World ignored, downplayed and lied about.

b. A litany of dictatorial edicts spewed by the POTUS himself to send the military out into the streets to take over cities and ARREST (Note: Or worse) protestors that his own military leaders ignored and refused to carry out.

c. A ton of cursing, blame gaming of others and dangerous lies and/or conspiracy theories launched from the bully pulpit and via social media from the resolute desk in the Oval Office all in service of one single cause – his 2020 re-election.

AND

THERE’S MORE??

d. An actual planned mob of many THOUSANDS that #45 personally spurred on in a prepared, fiery speech on Jan. 6 that caused said group to violently attack and rampage though the U.S. Capitol Building, kill and maim a bunch of policemen, as well as hunt and threaten to hang the sitting vice-president before he could actually ratify the Electoral College results that would declare Joe Biden the new POTUS and thus brand Trump now and forever the official LOSER of the 2020 race.

Oh right

No amount of arm twisting, phone yelling, or even frantic yet calm talks from first daughter Ivanka (Note: Referred to by one advisor as a stable pony, as in when the racehorse gets too agitated, you bring in the stable pony to calm him down) would ever get Trump to tell his supporters they were doing ANYTHING wrong. Even as they threatened lives and destroyed objects that had stood the test of time over SEVERAL CENTURIES in the Capitol and through dozens of other presidencies.

In fact, the most he would ever do was tell them to go home while simultaneously reminding them we love you.

Oh, and the other thing he NEVER DID, as the book details, was to call a single Senator, Congressperson, Aide or even Vice President to inquire if they were okay.  Not on that day and, as far as we know, not to this day.

Is this insulting to Thelma and Louise? #sorryCallieKhouri

Of course, none of this is shocking at this point, even as it remains scary and disheartening.  Worse is that, according to the book, Trump not only knew about the virulency of COVID-19 back in Jan. 2020 but totally bungled a phone call at the time to China President Xi Jinping when he attempted to get representatives of the US medical community into China in order to examine, study or in some way help or contain or accrue information to contain and/or treat Covid-19.

Afraid to jeopardize a trade agreement between the two countries that he thought would win him economic points from his supporters, Trump soft-balled his ask to the point where the head of Communist China simply avoided and/or refused to allow anyone from the US medical establishment into his country.  Then he very calmly ended the call.

Missing a comma, but still true

And when the virus raged on for months and months in the first half of 2020, infecting and killing tens of thousands, the book chronicles how not only Trump but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as well as Larry Kudlow, his National Economic Council advisor, refused to the very bitter end to take the obvious steps to close the economy that everyone else in the Trump administration was demanding.

Still, none of this is even quite as surprising as who Loennig and Rucker position as one of the unlikeliest of heroes of the administration – Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Previously we all knew Milley as that military guy in fatigues who followed POTUS through the street to that Church where Trump held the Bible upside down in some sort of victory over citizen protestors.

Cue world’s longest eyeroll

That was because right before, under Trump’s orders, the National Guard had marched onto the DC streets and used tear gas and pepper spray to clear a path for him and wipe away any traces of the Black Lives Matter protestors that had peacefully demonstrated for several days so he could have a photo op. 

Old history, right?  Except what we didn’t know is that Milley, who felt “used” and publicly apologized some days later in a video for that appearance, then began a full out, shadow campaign to make sure #45 would never again use the military to further his personal political agenda… or worse.

According to the book, from that day forward Milley regularly shot down Trump’s requests for firepower in the streets; at one point told Trump’s ultra right wing chief speechwriter Stephen Miller to shut the f—k up; and enlisted as many present and former cabinet officers and military men as he could to keep the country from imploding.  Or exploding.

Everything was fine

When the events of Jan. 6 happened, it was Milley who had to strong arm the slow-moving acting Defense Secretary and finally order troops to save the Capitol building.  And when his orders weren’t immediately carried out, it took Vice President Pence’s demands for reinforcements to finally cause the powers-that-be to act.

But the one person who never requested any troops, military or otherwise, to defend the Capitol building was Trump.  In a blistering recounting of Insurrection Day, the book chronicles POTUS’ primary post-speech activity to be watching it all unspool live on TV in sheer awe.

What particularly irked a military guy like Milley, who has advanced degrees from both Columbia and Princeton, was seeing right wing fascist groups like The Proud Boys, as well as other Trump MAGA supporters, many of whom shouted racial epithets and were armed with military style weapons, so swiftly and threateningly move into the sacred halls of government without seemingly missing a beat.

Never Forget… really

Several weeks later, after it was all through and it was his responsibility to plan and maintain an ironclad safe and secure inauguration site for Joe Biden, he thus didn’t hesitate to make the same analogy myself and many of my more mouthy, Trump-loathing friends dared to speak back in 2016 the moment it became apparent that Trump et al would actually rule the presidency, the White House and the rest of us along with it for an entire four years.

HITLER.

Yeah, I said it.  It’s been our POV from the beginning and it still is.  It doesn’t have to be yours or those close to you.  But just know that leading up to Inauguration Day 2021, it also began to be the POV of the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. 

And it still is.

Speaking to dozens of military and law enforcement leaders at a large gymnasium as they planned for the ceremony to swear in #46, Milley noted that thousands of Trump supporters were already organizing via social media a return to D.C. for a week of siege that would culminate in the disruption of Biden’s inauguration.  And, he wanted them to be ready.

Here’s the deal, guys.  These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys.  These are the same people we fought in World War II.  Everyone in this room, whether you’re a cop or whether you’re a soldier, we’re going to stop these guys to make sure we have a peaceful transfer of power.  We’re going to put a ring of steal around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.

Yikes

And they didn’t.

And Milley still chairs the Joint Chiefs.

And Trump’s out of office.

For now.

The Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again”