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#EndorseThis: Amanda Gorman's 'The Hill We Climb' Will Leave You Spellbound

Poetry rewards repeated attention -- especially when it is spoken aloud, like The Hill We Climb, the extraordinary six minutes of verse recited yesterday by Amanda Gorman that entranced millions of Americans at yesterday's presidential inauguration.

The youngest person ever to deliver a poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration, Gorman's beautiful language and dramatic delivery left her millions of listeners in awe. Dressed in a vibrant yellow coat, braids in a bun with a bold red hat, the 22 year-old writer perfectly evoked the themes enunciated by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on that historic day.

She brought something very special to this symbolic moment when hate and division lost, while democracy prevailed --- even though it was pushed to the very edge. Watch for the first time or watch again -- you won't be disappointed.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at Presidential Inauguration www.youtube.com


The Hill We Climb

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn't always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn't broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn't mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we'll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we're to live up to our own time
Then victory won't lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we've made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it's the past we step into
and how we repair it
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children's birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
If only we're brave enough to be it

Some Republican Freshmen Pledge To Work With Biden

Just 17 of the 44 newly sworn-in Republican members of Congress signed a letter on Wednesday congratulating President-elect Joe Biden and pledging to work with him to find common ground. But even most of these lawmakers who now urge unity voted to overturn his victory just two weeks ago.

In their letter, the "freshmen class" Republicans wrote that they "are hopeful that — despite our ideological differences — we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve." They cited COVID-19 relief, pre-existing conditions, infrastructure, antitrust enforcement, and the economy as potential areas for collaboration.

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As Biden Takes Office, QAnon Cultists Struggle With New Reality

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Supporters of the false QAnon conspiracy theory are struggling to respond to President Joe Biden taking office.

The conspiracy theory has been centered around former President Donald Trump and a secret plot to take down his perceived enemies, the "deep state," and a cabal of satan-worshipping pedophiles. Supporters of the conspiracy theory, which has gained an extensive influence in the American political process and hampered the response to the coronavirus pandemic, had been in denial about Biden's victory throughout the transition. They repeatedly claimed that somehow Trump would stay in office -- possibly via military means and martial law -- even when he made clear otherwise.

That denial about Biden's presidency carried through in the morning hours of Inauguration Day (though there were signs by the day before of a splintering in support for the conspiracy theory).

First, QAnon supporters began to claim that the number of American flags behind Trump at his farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews was a signal to QAnon.

Some QAnon followers also suggested a line in Eric Trump's farewell message saying "the best is yet to come" proved the conspiracy theory.

Multiple QAnon influencers even claimed that as he took office, Biden would reveal he was part of the conspiracy theory all along.

Obviously, none of this happened, and Biden has now been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Leading up to and following the inauguration ceremony, some QAnon supporters began to worry that they had been deceived and others denied that it was possible. Other QAnon influencers are still urging supporters to still believe in the conspiracy theory, with some claiming the military may step in to prevent Biden's presidency (or seeming to suggest people will commit violence to stop it), a sign that the conspiracy theory in some form is likely here to stay -- even if its central figure is no longer president.

Biden's Speech Confronts Capitol Riot And Calls For End To ‘Uncivil War’

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

It's become a ProPublica tradition for our president Richard Tofel, who wrote a book on President Kennedy's inaugural address, to offer an instant analysis of such speeches. Here are his thoughts on President Biden's address.

If President Joe Biden's inaugural address was drafted more than two weeks ago, it was certainly rewritten after the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Biden's setting of the scene as "our winter of peril and significant possibilities" may have been the speech's original theme, but its more stark call for an end to "this uncivil war" was surely more recent.

The predecessor most on Biden's mind on this historic occasion was clearly Abraham Lincoln, and the moment was not Lincoln's second inaugural prophecy at the Civil War's end, but his desperate pleas to avoid it ("We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.") at its beginning. Biden quoted Lincoln twice, once from the moment of his signing the Emancipation Proclamation, once from his eulogy at Gettysburg eight months later referring to those who gave "the last full measure of devotion" in the nation's service.

Lincoln was not the only president on whom Biden drew. In this speech — an extended call for unity — the new president hearkened to a tradition first and most memorably encapsulated in Jefferson's declaration, at his first inaugural, that "we are all republicans, we are all federalists."

But Jefferson had followed his assertion of bipartisanship with a sentiment that Biden, after the insurrection two weeks earlier, would not echo: "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." Biden, instead, insisted that "disagreement must not lead to disunion."

And he minced no words about where the threat comes from: "political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism." Having thus made clear his belief that race was central to the events of Jan. 6, and implicitly to much of Trumpism, Biden offered no quarter on racial equality. "A cry for racial justice 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer," he said.

While that may be nonnegotiable, Biden pleaded repeatedly and directly with the American people for unity even without consensus. A politician for more than a half century, he asserted that "politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path." He asserted that this was not a "foolish fantasy," and seemed to recognize that his appeal will fall on some deaf ears. Yet he seems genuinely to believe that there may be "enough of us" for some restoration of civility to be possible. While no one ever wants to quote former President Richard Nixon, he essentially repeated the call in Nixon's inaugural, after the upheavals of 1968, to "lower our voices."

A man of obvious and deep faith, Biden invoked St. Augustine and a recourse to the "common objects of our love." And where the inaugurals of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and the first George Bush had offered their own handcrafted prayers, Biden led a silent prayer for the 400,000 dead of the pandemic, clearly in the hope that in this the nation might find common ground.

Among the only harsh words in the address came when Biden drew a hard line against what defenders of the previous inaugural at first called "alternative facts." In this, he was biting: "There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and profit."

It had always seemed likely that Biden would break a tradition extending back seven presidents, to Jimmy Carter in 1977, of thanking his predecessor. Even former President Donald Trump had observed this, citing both Barack and Michelle Obama "for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent." Biden clearly couldn't say that, and didn't. Instead, he thanked his predecessors, Presidents Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama, for their presence, while saluting the fragile and absent Carter, now aged 96.

Beyond the completely unexpected, the great challenge for President Biden, as today made even more clear, is whether his belief that there are indeed "enough of us" willing to abjure "uncivil war" or worse will prove sound, or whether too many will join the previous president in simply absenting themselves from our common endeavors, or worse.

’None Of It Came True!’ Disillusioned QAnon Cultist Losing Faith

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Followers of the QAnon conspiracy fiction are facing an inflection point. With President-elect Joe Biden about to be sworn in on Jan. 20, and Donald Trump about to be a former president, their worldview — which imagines Trump as an exalted leader waging a brilliant battle against the deep state and a satanic cult — is about to fall apart.

Many adherents to QAnon may find new ways to rationalize the developments, but Trump's role as president has been so central to the belief system that his leaving could create some genuinely jarring cognitive dissonance for true believers. Travis View, who hosts a podcast about the conspiracy theory called QAnon Anonymous, shared a video of one woman who is struggling to cope with the realization that the whole story behind QAnon is collapsing.

"So, who else is feeling just a little silly?" she asked. "Just a little... went too far down the rabbit hole, and now I'm back out again. And if nothing happens on the 20th, how many of you are going to feel stupid as hell? I can't do it anymore!"

She shifted to talking about Q, the pseudonymous writer behind the cryptic posts that have fueled the QAnon conspiracists. Q's predictions have repeatedly proven false.

"And who the fuck is Q? Who is he? Who is this person?" she asked. "Cause none of it has come true! And I was just thinking — what if this person knows that none of this stuff is true? And they're just messing with people? Like, getting inside their heads? I thought something would happen today, in Trump's speech. Nothing!"

Watch the clip below:

Tearful Biden Delivers Heartfelt Farewell To Delaware

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On the day before his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden spoke at a send-off event in Delaware — and he was overcome with emotion when discussing his connection to his adopted state.

Biden, now 78, was only 29 when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate via Delaware back in 1972. After decades in the Senate, Biden was sworn in as vice president in January 2009 as part of President Barack Obama's administration.

The president-elect, originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, explained, "My colleagues in the Senate used to always kid me for quoting Irish poets. They thought I did it because I'm Irish. I didn't do it for that reason; I did it because they're the best poets in the world."

Biden added, "James Joyce was said to have told a friend that when it comes his time to pass — when he dies, he says, 'Dublin will be written on my heart.'"

Overcome for a moment, Biden paused and then continued, "Well, excuse the emotion. But when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart and the hearts of all of us — all the Bidens." At one point, he wiped way a tear from his eye.

Sorry! No Big Military-Style Sendoff For You, Mr. President

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump, who still hasn't conceded that he lost the election, will soon be leaving the White House. On his way out, he's not participating in any of the traditional hand-off rituals that incumbents typically do to welcome newly elected Presidents (like leaving a farewell letter of advice to the new president or having a one-on-one conversation with them).

Trump also apparently wants his departure to involve "a military-style sendoff and a crowd of supporters" at either the White House, the Joint Base Andrews or his final destination, the Palm Beach International Airport, according to CNN.

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"Epstein's Ghost": A Play In One Act

Scene 1: The study off the Oval Office. January 19, 2021, 11 p.m.

Trump is alone, gazing at a print called "The Republican Club," showing him as the center of attention of past Republican presidents while they play cards.

TRUMP: I'll have that picture packed up in the morning. The best. Hang it in my presidential library. Sell it at the gift shop. What's Lincoln drinking? They say he was a teetotaler. Looks like a beer. I bet he sneaked a beer. The artist got everything right. I'm drinking a Diet Coke. Lincoln couldn't stop the Civil War. I didn't have a civil war. That thing at the Capitol? A big little nothing. Lincoln couldn't carry Texas. I carried it twice. His wife held seances. They spoke to ghosts. Robert E. Lee drove Lincoln crazy.

Scene 2. The Lincoln Bedroom. Midnight.

Trump is in his pajamas, wearing a bathrobe, sitting up in bed, with a channel changer in his hand, surfing between three TV screens, showing Fox News, Newsmax and the One America Network.

TRUMP: Never spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Creepy. But it's my last chance. (Calls out.) Melania? Gone to her bedroom. We're up at five in the morning to get to Andrews for the big sendoff, twenty-one gun salute, big rally when we land in Florida, beginning of the comeback. (Calls out again.) Melania? Nothing. I'll tweet out my Farewell Address. (He reaches for his cell phone, starts writing.) "My fellow…" God damn it, nothing. Schmucks cut off my twitter. Lorena Bobbitt, Hillary, Kamala. (Calls out.) Miller! Stephen! Stephen Miller! Jason! Jason Miller! (Waits a second.) Nothing. Nobody there.

(Trump feels a slight breeze and a chill, and hears the rustle of something moving. He wraps his bathrobe tighter. Before him stands a familiar figure, with a long trailing orange sheet wrapped around his neck.)

TRUMP: Jeffrey!

JEFFREY EPSTEIN: You don't believe in ghosts, do you?

TRUMP: How long have you been dead?

EPSTEIN: Five hundred and twenty-eight days to be exact.

TRUMP: Didn't see it coming, did you? You can take that sheet off your neck now. You used to be a better dresser.

EPSTEIN: You're the only one who can see me now.

TRUMP: You must have come for a reason. What do you want from me?

EPSTEIN: Too late for a pardon.

TRUMP: I liked you a lot better than a lot of the people I gave pardons. You sure you don't want anything? (Epstein shakes his head.) All right, have it your way. But don't go anywhere. I could use some company. I just have to give my last presidential order. (Trump picks up the White House phone.)

WHITE HOUSE OPERATOR: Mr. President…

TRUMP: Double cheeseburger, fries and a Diet Coke. (He hangs up.)

EPSTEIN: I've lost my appetite.

TRUMP: Take a chair. Take off that sheet. There's no evidence you exist, Jeffrey, you know that.

EPSTEIN: Evidence? You remember those photographs we took with the girls? They were in my safe at East 91st Street. When the FBI raided they took everything.

TRUMP: You never had much time to talk. I guess you can talk now. So, tell me, what's it like on the other side?

EPSTEIN: Every day I go to your mansion at Mar-a-Lago. You greet me at the door. There's a party going on. The room is filled with a legion of girls, all of them dancing, trying to get our attention. I tell you a joke. You point to one girl and whisper to me, "She's hot." We laugh. Then the cutest of the girls, six of them, come up to me and take me by the hand. They lead me to a room with a massage table. They put a sheet on it, giggle and tell me to take my clothes off. They leave. I lie down on the table. Then nobody ever returns. I just lie there. The next thing I know it's the next day and I'm going to your mansion at Mar-a-Lago. You're at the door. It all happens again exactly the same way.

TRUMP: When you come to my place are you wearing the sheet?

EPSTEIN: Only when I am let out to wander on the wings of the wind.

TRUMP: But why bother me now? No pardon. I don't get it. What's in it for you?

EPSTEIN: I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day. This is the first and last time I will make myself known. A very little more is all that's permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My time is nearly gone here, while your time here ticks away. I am here to warn you of your fate. I will be the last to tell you of your chance and hope once you leave this house. It's what I learn over and over again every single day when I visit you at Mar-a-Lago. (Epstein wraps his orange sheet around his neck.)

TRUMP: What is it?

EPSTEIN: There's no happy ending.

Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel and All the Powers of Earth. His play, This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks.