Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Good news about effectiveness of COVID Vaccines - and why you should get one now

Jonathon V. Last has this good news featured in “JVL - The Bulwark thetriad@substack.com”.

David Leonhardt at the NY Times explains why the COVID vaccines seem to be better than advertised:

  • The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — the only two approved in the U.S. — are among the best vaccines ever created, with effectiveness rates of about 95 percent after two doses. That’s on par with the vaccines for chickenpox and measles. And a vaccine doesn’t even need to be so effective to reduce cases sharply and crush a pandemic.
  • If anything, the 95 percent number understates the effectiveness, because it counts anyone who came down with a mild case of Covid–19 as a failure. But turning Covid into a typical flu — as the vaccines evidently did for most of the remaining 5 percent — is actually a success. Of the 32,000 people who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in a research trial, do you want to guess how many contracted a severe Covid case? One… .

Did you get that? 1/32000

After asking Richterman [an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania] and others what a better public message might sound like, I was left thinking about something like this:

We should immediately be more aggressive about mask-wearing and social distancing because of the new virus variants. We should vaccinate people as rapidly as possible — which will require approving other Covid vaccines when the data justifies it.

People who have received both of their vaccine shots, and have waited until they take effect, will be able to do things that unvaccinated people cannot — like having meals together and hugging their grandchildren. But until the pandemic is defeated, all Americans should wear masks in public, help unvaccinated people stay safe and contribute to a shared national project of saving every possible life.

Read the whole thing but the big takeaway is that as soon as you are eligible for the vaccine, you should get it.

Scriber made his appointment today.

Monday, January 18, 2021

On his way out, Trump continues to destroy the GOP

Leaving behind the detritus of a once proud political party is not something to celebrate. What is left is the governmentally unserious Trumpism. Think January 6th.

Here are a couple of items from the print edition of the Daily Star.

After lying for years, Trump will leave legacy of ‘magical thinking’ opines Calvin Woodward. Scriber takes exception. That insults magic.

More seriously, also at the Daily Star, Fareed Zakaria asks “Has Trump finally pushed the GOP to the breaking point?” It does look that way. Read on.

NPR reviews Rick Wilson’s book In ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies,’ Few Are Spared. Trump has touched the GOP so deeply that the Republican party’s fractures may not be fixable.

His book is the story of a Republican Party whose shift towards Trumpism has left him furious, which he conveys with a biting, over-the-top writing style — a book he hopes is one “of a number of poison darts in the neck of the monster.”

Here is where that goes. Trumpist factions tearing apart the GOP writes Thomas Friedman.

Trump blows up the Arizona GOP on his way out reports politico.com. “The craziness from the state Republican Party … it’s pretty embarrassing,” said a former top Republican official.

Excerpts follow.

The Trump era did more damage to the Republican Party in Arizona than almost anywhere else. Over the past two years, Republicans lost both Senate seats. In November, the state flipped Democratic in a presidential race for the first time since 1996. The GOP state party chair is currently at war with the governor.

President Donald Trump’s fingerprints are on all of it, yet the state party will likely pass a resolution next week to officially “support & thank” the president. It’ll also vote on measures to censure three prominent Republicans who were deemed insufficiently beholden to Trump: Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late senator.

The adulation is an expression of GOP grassroots loyalty to Trump, but it’s also a portrait of a party that’s run aground in service to him. His defeat has triggered attempts to adopt an even harder pro-Trump line, raising questions about the party’s ability to compete in an increasingly diverse state that’s edging leftward.

“The craziness from the state Republican Party … it’s pretty embarrassing,” said Kirk Adams, a former Republican state House speaker and former chief of staff to Ducey. “We have been fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories and stolen election rhetoric and, really, QAnon theories from the state Republican Party since before the election, but certainly after.”

He said, “What’s … consequential is the effect the state Republican Party is having on the Republican brand in the state of Arizona.”

The fallout has been swift. Several thousand Arizona Republicans have abandoned the party since the U.S. Capitol riot that Trump helped to incite, with the majority of the defectors re-registering without a designated party, according to state elections officials. Business leaders are publicly recoiling from the GOP after party officials thrust Arizona into the center of Trump’s failed effort to overturn the election results, further dividing an already fractured party.

“Let us be clear: we find the weeks of disinformation and outright lies to reverse a fair and free election from the head of the Arizona Republican Party and some elected officials to be reprehensible,” read a full-page ad in The Arizona Republic this week from Greater Phoenix Leadership, a group of CEOs. “The political party organization and these elected officials, which some of us have supported in the past, have again embarrassed Arizona on a national stage.”

Bill Gates, a Republican Maricopa County supervisor, said “we’ve always had different members in different places on the spectrum and we’ve always had what you would call a hard right contingent. But here in the last few years we’ve seen that contingent come to the point now where they’re running the party apparatus.”

In that climate, Arizona Republicans who fail to toe the pro-Trump line are finding knives in their backs. …

Given the party’s losses, more traditionalist Republicans are appalled the state GOP had nothing better to do.

“So, the state party is picking fights with the standard-bearers of the party for no good reason other than to show an outgoing president that Kelli Ward has his back,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican political strategist in Arizona. “The Republican Party does need to have a bit of a reckoning with itself. Will it be the party that follows a demagogue, or will it be the party that follows conservative principles? And so far, some in the leadership apparatus have chosen demagoguery over conservative principles.”

For more, see AZ Blue Meanie’s post at Blog for Arizona The Time Is Now For Any Sane And Patriotic Republicans Left In The Party To Take Back The AZ GOP.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The January 6th riot exposes the traitors amongst us

In this post I tell a story about the January 6th attack on America in three parts, each featuring a target article. In the first part, as a case study we look at the involvement of one Representative. Then, in the second part, our view expands to cover the actions of multiple members of Congress. Finally, we expand our focus even much more broadly by examining the role of the president and the failure of his political party to constrain his baser impulses.

A case study of treachery

[There are a lot of good members of Congress. A few great ones. A bunch of dumb ones. And then there are the traitors. What in God’s name are they doing there?][expel] asks Molly Jong-Fast, Daily Beast Editor-At-Large.

There are 535 members of Congress. Some of them are great. A few of them (Louie Gohmert) are dumb as a box of rocks. And then some of them are real true traitors who need to be expelled.

Fully 139 Republican congresspeople objected to the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election win. In an ideal world, all of these people would be expelled. But it’s not an ideal world, and some of these members were just good Germans worried about a mean tweet. Are they cowards? Certainly, but they are not the nexus of the problem. It makes more sense for Democrats to focus on the rot in the center—the ooey gooey maggot-ridden core of the Coup Caucus.

It was Tuesday Jan. 12 when gun enthusiast Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado walked through Congress’ newly installed metal detectors and refused to allow the Capitol Police to search her bag. She caused a mini-fracas. Multiple Republican House members started refusing to be searched or refused to go through the metal detector at all. “I was physically restrained!” complained Arkansas Republican Steve Womack. Hell hath no fury like a congressional Republican forced to walk through a metal detector.

Boebert, a first-termer who pulled off a big upset in her primary, is famous for saying that she would bring her Glock to Congress and for her gun-themed restaurants where she once served “tainted pork sliders [that] poisoned dozens of attendees at a local rodeo, who came down with symptoms ranging from nausea to bloody diarrhea.” On the morning of the Capitol riots she tweeted “Today is 1776,” and then later that day she tweeted, “The speaker has been removed from the chamber.”

Later, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted, “We were specifically instructed by those protecting us not to tell anyone, including our family, where exactly we were, for reasons that remain obvious.” We don’t know what Boebert’s role in the riots was, but at best it was cheerleader, at worst it was something more sinister. How can this person be allowed to stay in Congress when she is very obviously a threat to her colleagues?

[expel]https://www.thedailybeast.com/these-traitorous-traitors-must-be-expelled-from-the-house?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

A widespread plot engineered by members of congress

That’s right. Plural! Boebert was just one of the traitors responsible for the riot. Congressmen from Arizona were complicit.

Evidence shows Republican leaders directed occupation of Capitol, and provided details for attack reports Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos Staff.

On Tuesday evening, Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill indicated that some Republican legislators had been directly involved in helping insurgents plan the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. As all the pieces begin to fall together, it’s becoming clearer that Republican officials—from state and local party leaders to members of Congress—were not just involved in encouraging the insurrection through spreading lies about election fraud, but assisted the coup plotters with information on how to best go about causing harm. That includes how best to capture members of Congress considered enemies of Donald Trump.

Evidence is building up that Reps. Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, and Paul Gosar were directly involved in planning events on Jan. 6. Others, like Rep. Lauren Boebert, appear to have not just encouraged insurrection actors in their assault but provided real-time updates on the location of terrorist targets. Now, following Sherrill’s accusations that some Republicans had helped the insurrectionists by leading them on “reconnaissance” of the Capitol in advance of the assault, there appears to be more evidence that not only were insurgents provided with information on how best to carry out their assault, they were doing exactly what Republicans asked of them.

One day before insurgents took the Capitol and went in search of congressional hostages, that is exactly what Republican organizations across the nation told them to do. As Media Matters shows, multiple Republican organizations were directly calling on those attending the Jan. 6 event to “Occupy the Capitol.” That message came from organizations in (at least) Texas, Oregon, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The flyer passed around urging this occupation makes multiple references to 1776, a reference that was repeated by Boebert on Jan. 6.

As insurgents stormed the Capitol and roamed the halls, Boebert kept them updated with where to find members of Congress and specifically provided location information on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

For example, at 12:18 Boebert tweeted “The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.”

And someone clearly provided even more detailed information, as can be seen in this video of insurgents both inside and outside the building coordinating to gain access to additional areas of the building. When some of those inside are confused about what happens next, a person from outside speaks through an opened window to tell them she has been there before and give details of a route to get access to Congressional offices. (Actual timestamp is 0:34.)

“Hey guys, I’ve been in the other room … in the other room on the other side of this door, there is a glass, that can be broken. You can drop down into a room underneath it. There are also two doors in the other room, one in the rear, and one on the right as you go in it. So, we should probably coordinate together if you’re going to take this building.”

GOP organizations were explicitly calling on those attending the rally to capture the Capitol. Boebert was assisting them in locating potential hostages. And these people had clearly been provided the information they needed to move through the building and bypass potential roadblocks in order to reach the House and Senate chambers.

This was a widespread plot that demands an extensive ongoing investigation.

The greatest traitor[s] of all

Michelle Goldberg, in the NY Times’ The Inevitable, exposes the culpability of the Republicans who supported and permitted Trump’s engagement with the violent right wing.

Thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry.

BEGIN QUOTE

The House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report quotes, at length, the speech that Donald Trump gave to his devotees on Jan. 6 before many of them stormed the Capitol, baying for execution.

“We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them,” said President Trump. He urged his minions to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the place where Congress was meeting to certify the election he lost: “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

A week later, Representative Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, would vote to get rid of him, joining nine of her fellow Republicans in backing impeachment. “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement, adding, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Half of all presidential impeachments since the Republic began have been impeachments of Trump. This latest impeachment is different than the first, and not just because it was bipartisan. It culminates a week in which Trump has finally faced the broad social pariahdom he’s always deserved.

When a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol, killing one policeman and pummeling others, it also tore down a veil. Suddenly, all but the most fanatical partisans admitted that Trump was exactly who his fiercest critics have always said he was.

Banks promised to stop lending to him. Major social media companies banned him. One of the Trump Organization’s law firms dropped it as a client. The coach of the New England Patriots rejected the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the P.G.A. pulled its namesake tournament from a Trump golf course. Universities revoked honorary degrees. Some of the country’s biggest corporations, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pledged to withhold donations from congressional enablers of his voter fraud fantasy. Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would end contracts with the Trump Organization to run two ice rinks and other concessions worth millions annually.

Trumpists often whine about being ostracized — Melania Trump being snubbed by Vogue seems a particular sore point — but watching all these institutions reject the president now is a reminder of how many didn’t do so earlier.

At the beginning of the president’s reign, I expected this moment of widespread repudiation to come quickly. But Trump survived the special counsel investigation. He survived his first impeachment. When he seemed poised to retain his political influence even after losing a presidential election, I despaired of a reckoning ever coming at all. “When this is all over, nobody will admit to ever having supported it,” David Frum tweeted in 2019. Two weeks ago, that seemed like wishful thinking.

There’s a bleak sort of relief in the arrival, after everything, of comeuppance. The question is whether it’s too late, whether the low-grade insurgency that the president has inspired and encouraged will continue to terrorize the country that’s leaving him behind.

“This was an armed violent rebellion at the very seat of government, and the emergency is not over,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, told me. “So we have to use every means at our disposal to reassert the supremacy of constitutional government over chaos and violence.”

The siege of the Capitol wasn’t a departure for Trump, it was an apotheosis. For years, he’s been telling us he wouldn’t accept an election loss. For years, he’s been urging his followers to violence, refusing to condemn their violence, and insinuating that even greater violence was on the way. As he told Breitbart in 2019, in one of his characteristic threats, “I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

Jan. 6 wasn’t even the first time Trump cheered an armed siege of an American capitol; he did that last spring when gun-toting anti-lockdown activists stormed the Michigan statehouse. Later, after news emerged of a plot to kidnap and publicly execute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Trump said, “I mean, we’ll have to see if it’s a problem. Right? People are entitled to say maybe it was a problem, maybe it wasn’t.”

It is shocking that Trump didn’t act when Congress could have faced a mass hostage-taking, or worse. It is not surprising.

Throughout his presidency, Republicans pretended not to hear what the president was saying. For the last few months, Republican election officials in Georgia have spoken with mounting desperation of being barraged with death threats as a result of Trump’s ceaseless lies about the election, but national Republicans did little to restrain him. There was no exodus away from the president and his brand when, during the debates, he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power and told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

The far right took heart from the president’s winks and nods, retweets and outright displays of support. “Donald Trump, ever since his campaign, throughout his four years in office, has done nothing but pander to these people,” Daryl Johnson, a former senior intelligence analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, told me.

Now a private security consultant, Johnson was caught in a political tempest during the Obama administration, when, at D.H.S., he wrote a report warning of a “resurgence in right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity,” including efforts to recruit veterans. Republicans were apoplectic, seeing the report as an effort to brand conservatives as potential terrorists. Johnson’s unit was disbanded and he left government.

Under Trump, political pressure on federal law enforcement to ignore the far right would only grow. After a white supremacist killed 23 people in a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, Dave Gomez, a former F.B.I. supervisor overseeing terrorism cases, told The Washington Post that the agency was “hamstrung” in trying to investigate white nationalists. “There’s some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base,” said Gomez.

The violent far right appears to have been emboldened by the experience of being treated as valued constituents. “The problem existed before him, but it’s really flourished even more under his administration,” Johnson said of Trump.

This is a departure from previous patterns, Johnson said: Right-wing extremist activity usually abates during Republican administrations, when conservatives feel less existentially threatened. But Trump kept the far right’s paranoia and sense of grievance at a constant boil, and gave them permission to act. The people at the Capitol who said they were there because the president wanted them to be weren’t necessarily delusional.

But there’s no reason to believe that the threat will recede when Trump is gone. Johnson believes it’s going to get worse, and he’s not alone. A recent federal intelligence bulletin warns, “Amplified perceptions of fraud surrounding the outcome of the General Election and the change in control of the Presidency and Senate,” along with fear of what the new administration has in store, will “very likely will lead to an increase in DVE violence.” DVE stands for “domestic violent extremists.”

Already, Washington looks like a war zone. Joe Biden’s inauguration next week will be closed to the public. Representative Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment, said on MSNBC that he and some of his colleagues are buying body armor: “Our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”

The end of Trump’s presidency has shaken American stability as even 9/11 did not, and that’s before you factor in around 4,000 people a day dying of Covid–19.

Making Trump face consequences for trying to overturn the election will not, by itself, stop the disorder he’s instigated. But it may be a precondition for making the country governable. “The time to stop tyrants and despots is when you first see them breaking from the demands of law,” said Raskin. Trump, he said, “has been indulged and protected for so long by some of his colleagues that he brought us to the brink of hell in the Capitol of the United States.”

An animating irony of Trumpism — one common among authoritarians — is that it revels in lawlessness while glorifying law and order. “This is the central contradiction-slash-truth of authoritarian regimes,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an N.Y.U. historian and the author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” She cited Mussolini’s definition of fascism as a “revolution of reaction.” Fascism had a radical impulse to overturn the existing order, “to liberate extremism, lawlessness, but it also claims to be a reaction to bring order to society.”

The same is true of Trump’s movement. Central to Trump’s mystique is that he breaks rules and gets away with it. To reassert the rule of law, said Ben-Ghiat, “showing the world that he cannot in fact get away with it” is crucial.

That is part of the work of the second impeachment. This impeachment may be as much a burden for Democrats as for Republicans; a Senate trial would surely postpone some of the urgent business of the Biden administration. It has gone forward because Democrats had no choice if they wanted to defend our increasingly fragile system of government.

The very fact that Raskin will lead the prosecution of Trump in the Senate is a sign of the solemnity with which Democrats are approaching it. As you’ve perhaps read by now, Raskin recently suffered the most gutting loss imaginable. Tormented by depression, his 25-year-old son, “a radiant light in this broken world,” as Raskin and his wife wrote in a eulogy, took his own life on Dec. 31, “the last hellish brutal day of that godawful miserable year of 2020.”

Raskin buried his son on Jan. 5, the day before he went to the Capitol to count the electoral vote. His youngest daughter didn’t want him to go; he felt he had to be there but invited her and his other daughter’s husband to come with him. When the mob breached the building, Raskin was on the House floor, and his daughter and son-in-law were in an office with his chief of staff. “The kids were hiding under a desk,” he said. “They had pushed as much furniture as they could up against the door, but people were banging at the door.”

That day, Raskin began working with his colleagues to draft both an article of impeachment and a resolution calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.

I asked him why, after all he’s endured, he wanted to lead the effort to bring Trump to trial. “I’ve devoted my life and career to the defense of our democracy and our people,” said Raskin, who was a constitutional law professor before he was a congressman. Then he said: “My son is in my heart, and in my chest I feel him every day. And Tommy was a great lover of human freedom and democracy and he would want me to be doing whatever I’m asked to do to defend democracy against chaos and fascism.”

It is not yet clear who Raskin will be up against. Prominent law firms have refused to represent Trump in his postelection legal fights, and Bloomberg News reports that lawyers who have defended the president in the past don’t want to do so anymore. For four years, as Trump has brought ever more havoc and hatred to this country, many have wondered what it would take to dent his impunity. The answer appears to be twofold: Committing sedition, and losing power.

END QUOTE

Friday, January 15, 2021

Shed no tears for Trump's post-presidency misery

On the other hand, Donald the Denier is incapable of recognizing reality. But can he finally come to grips with his own failures?

In the Washington Post, columnist Jennifer Rubin explains how Trump’s future looks rotten.

Thanks to our Editor-at-Large Sherry.

BEGIN QUOTE

President Trump faces a horrid future. He is the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice; he lost the popular vote twice; he lost both the House and Senate for his party; and more than 383,000 Americans have died from covid–19 on his watch. He has clearly sewn up the title of “worst president ever.” If found guilty by a soon-to-be Democratic-controlled Senate, he will be unable to run for office again and may lose his post-presidential benefits (e.g., salary, travel allowance). But that is far from his biggest worry.

Trump may be sued civilly or charged criminally for tax avoidance or other financial crimes that state prosecutors in New York are investigating. Depending on the charges, he could face significant fines or even imprisonment. (Trump has maintained that he has done nothing improper.)

Speaking of finances, Trump reportedly has more than $400 million in loans coming due. However, his banks are cutting ties. Deutsche Bank, which holds about $340 million of the debt, and Signature Bank do not want to do business with him. It is far from clear what lender is going to take him on as a client. He might need help from his overseas authoritarian friends.

Trump may also face a federal criminal investigation for seeking to change election results in Georgia during two phone calls with state election officials — one of which was recorded. In addition to potential federal crimes for election offenses, prosecutors will need to look at whether his vague threat of criminal liability in his call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger qualified as extortion.

That was all before we got to his Jan. 6 activities. Federal investigators and the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., as well as senior Justice Department officials will need to determine whether there is a basis to charge Trump with incitement to riot or conspiracy to commit sedition. They will look not simply at Trump’s remarks that day, but also his tweet calling for “wild” protests in the capital, his rhetoric after the election and his conduct during the siege, when he failed to issue a clear, unequivocal directive for his people to stand down. (That the president managed to issue a statement on the day of his second impeachment proactively calling for “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind” makes his hours-long silence on Jan. 6 look even worse.)

Beyond criminal liability, Trump could surely be sued by the relatives of those killed or injured in the siege, or to cover the costs incurred to repair damage. He cannot be sued for “official conduct,” but leading a riot to overturn an election will be difficult to slot into the category of “official duties,” to put it mildly. It was a continuation of his campaign intended to give him a second term, not to effectuate any policy or interest during his existing term.

Even on the slim chance that Trump is never charged with any crime and manages to escape all civil liability, he will be deeply in debt (his original debt plus any costs to defend himself in court). He will also be a social and business pariah, banned from social media and unwelcome in most democratic countries. It is not clear how many people are going to pay to belong to a seditionist’s Mar-a-Lago Club or stay at any of his properties.

One can surely understand why the prospect of losing was so terrifying for him — aside from the humiliation. Quite simply, he faces a miserable post-presidency.

END QUOTE

Thursday, January 14, 2021

'A lot of damage'

Here are concluding paragraphs from the [January 13, 2021 edition] of Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson.

In the next week, Trump Republicans might be able to convince Americans that holding Republican insurrectionists responsible for their actions is Democratic overreaction. In that case, the Republicans can avoid taking a stand either for or against Trump while they turn this moment into a referendum on the Democrats just as they take power in the national government. They are running this play headlong, complaining bitterly, for example, about the new metal detectors installed at the entrance to the House chamber– even as National Guard personnel patrolled the Capitol to protect them– and complaining about “censorship” to television cameras after Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube removed QAnon accounts and Trump’s accounts.

It could also be that, as more information comes out, the story will get even worse, and it will be easier for senators to vote to convict, especially once Trump is out of office. Yesterday’s briefings by the FBI and acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin gave notice that the evolving story of what happened on January 6 will be shocking and could well involve figures in government. More than 30 House Democrats have called attention to an unusual number of Capitol tours held on January 5, at a time when coronavirus restrictions have largely ended tours. Those tours, combined with the fact that the insurrectionists appeared to have a detailed knowledge of the Capitol complex, have led to suspicions that some members of Congress might have offered aid to the rioters.

A sign that there is something big still hanging out there came tonight in the form of a taped video by Trump himself, emphasizing that he disavowed violence and defending the right to free speech protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It sounded like a charge and a defense. To release such a video means he must be worried indeed about his legal exposure.

Another sign is that virtually no one in the White House tried to defend Trump from today’s impeachment. There were no talking points, no briefings, no interviews, no calls to lawmakers. Even White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who defended the president at his first impeachment last year, wanted people to know he was not defending him this time.

Furious and isolated, Trump is lashing out at those he blamed for getting him into this mess. He has told aides that he wants personally to approve any expenses his lawyer Rudy Giuliani ran up as he traveled around the country to challenge election results, and he has told them not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees.

Trump had largely given up governing after the election anyway, but now our government seems to be operating haphazardly. Today, Israeli warplanes hit Iranian and Iranian-backed militia positions in Syria. Israeli forces are often active in this area, but this was the hardest attack in years, hitting missiles recently brought to the area and killing around 40 people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted Trump to pressure Iran before he left office, and this strike seems intended to demonstrate a U.S.-Israeli partnership against Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, made this message obvious by being seen together Monday at CafĂ© Milano in Washington, D.C., a restaurant the Washington Post described as “Washington’s ultimate place to see and be seen.”

Also yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced new coronavirus vaccine schedule guidelines, as the U.S. reported 4,327 deaths from Covid–19. In the first 13 days of 2021, we have seen more than 3 million new infections. More than 23 million Americans have been infected so far.

Almost exactly a year ago, on January 23, 2020, Adam Schiff urged Senate Republicans to convict Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress, and to remove him from office. “Now,” he said, “you may be asking how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election?

“A lot,” Schiff said. “A lot of damage.”

Militant America - hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.

Not to frighten you or anything ….

The morning news, e.g., Good Morning America, reports militants planning for a “week of siege” leading up to the inauguration.

In the Triad/Bulwark Jonathon V. Last looks ahead to the implications of the January 6th riot. Is it one prelude to more serious conflict?

A couple months ago I linked to a bracing Mike Giglio story about militias in America. He has another great one and I want to talk about it. Here’s his lede:

I spent the last year talking with people from militant groups on the American right and always driving toward the same question: And then what? You’re armed and trained and linked up with your outfit. And then what? You’re ready to stand up to the leftist mob or defend Donald Trump from the inevitable attempt to steal the election. And then what? You’ll fight if you have to. OK, and then what?

I keep pushing down this path because in the end, it leads to war and I want to have a discussion about what that means. Because I hope that behind all the prepping and posturing from that side — and the level 11 hysteria that pervades America generally — we all realize that we’re comfortable and fat and free, and that real war means your house will get wrecked and your kids or your neighbor or the cashier you trade hellos with at your fully stocked supermarket will die. My fear is not that some people somewhere will start a real conflict intentionally, having first grappled with the consequences of that and thought it all through, but that they’ll keep taking that next step toward one without ever understanding what they’re really asking for.

Okay. So far, so bad. But then things take a turn for the even worse:

Not long after Kelly Loeffler announced on the Senate floor that, thanks to the riot, she’d changed her mind about challenging the election result, I received a flurry of texts about it from a Georgia militia leader named Justin Thayer. He’d run “security” at a Loeffler rally over the summer as the Senate’s wealthiest member pandered to pro-gun hard-liners during her failed campaign, but told me defiantly that he’d no longer be backing her.

He was at the Capitol but hadn’t gone inside because of the lack of planning; he said it could easily have turned into “a kill box.”

“So what’s next?”

“Pray and prepare for the 20th.”

“Any plans or just watching the inauguration on TV?”

“We will be there.” …

In October, I was talking with a longtime member of the militant movement who says he’s a veteran of the elite special operations community. This is an older but still formidable man has always been genial with me. We were talking about the upcoming election and his conviction that there would be massive fraud when he changed his tone and veered off into a very dark place. “What ultimately happens is some people stand with Trump and some people stand against the country. Some people stand with the coup, some people stand against the coup, and nobody stands with the law or morality at that point, and that’s where the war begins,” he said. “When we actually get involved, we’re going to kill Democrats, liberals, and communists at a rate that will defy anything that’s occurred in history, and when that happens, we’re going to make sure that it’s done so thoroughly that we don’t ever have to have this argument again. … It’s going to be so ugly and ruthless. … We’re going to go to the homes of the tank operators [who would be called in to put down an insurrection] and kill their wives and their children and nail them to the walls.”

I told him I didn’t believe him. I still don’t believe him. But I’ve been thinking about what he said. And I’ve been calling him since the election with no answer.

Read the whole thing.

This is why the lie is what matters. These militias have been told—not just by Alex Jones, but by the president of the United States, and the Republican minority leader in the House, and hundreds of other “responsible” mainstream figures—that they are the good guys trying to preserve American democracy from an illegal coup.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Corporate political donors rethink - and revise - their political giving

‘An Epiphany Moment’ for Corporate Political Donors May Have Arrived. As companies put their donations to candidates on hold, they should reassess political giving entirely, making the halt permanent. Andrew Ross Sorkin reports at the NY Times.

As companies from Coca-Cola to Amazon to Citigroup appear to be tripping over one another to declare that they are “pausing” or “reassessing” donations to Republicans who sought to overturn the election — and, in some cases, suspending giving to both parties — they might want to look at a company that didn’t say anything.

That company is IBM.

It didn’t need to issue a mea culpa for a simple reason. It doesn’t donate to candidates on either side of the aisle — at all, ever.

IBM is one of only a handful of large companies in the United States that are not involved in direct political giving to candidates. It has no political action committee. Even when it gives money to trade groups, it restricts its money from being funneled to candidates.

It was a policy put in place more than a century ago by Thomas J. Watson, the founding father of the modern IBM.

"We should not use IBM time, money or materials for political purposes,” Mr. Watson’s son, Thomas J. Watson Jr., wrote in an internal memo in 1968, when he was chief executive, reflecting his father’s policy. The company “should not try to function as a political organization in any way,” he wrote.

As other companies pause their donations to candidates via corporate PACs, they should consider making their halt permanent.

The public views these news releases not necessarily as responsible political participation but as evidence — receipts — of a corrupt system. The donations directed by a corporate PAC undermine the credibility of the company and the politician taking it. The money is seen as a bribe for legislation, and the legislation is seen as a favor in return for money.

The companies speaking out in recent days — American Express, Facebook, Marriott and Morgan Stanley, to name a few more — may deserve credit for pulling back from political donations amid accusations that some funded sedition. A genuine example of leadership would be to go even further and declare that they will get out of the business of political donations completely.

More from the NY Times article …

And lots of details about corporate political expenditures in this post by Judd Legum at popular.info.

After riot, major corporations suspend donations to the Republican Attorneys General Association . Many corporations are reducing or terminating their PAC contributions. But lots more companies making such donations have yet to weigh in.

Trumpist factions tearing apart the GOP

Quote of the Day: I know, it looks real dark right now. But if you look at the diverse, high-quality center-left cabinet that Biden has assembled and the principled, center-right Republicans who are looking to be problem solvers, not Trump soldiers, maybe that light in the tunnel isn’t a train coming at us after all. - Thomas Friedman.

Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times Opinion Columnist, reports how Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him. There still will be a place for principled Republicans. Lots of excerpts follow.

(Thanks to our Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”

That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind his being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.

Second, if the principled Republicans split from the Trump cult, the rump pro-Trump G.O.P. would have a very hard time winning a national election anytime soon. And given what we’ve just seen, these Trumpers absolutely cannot be trusted with power again.

What is it that Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were dreaming of when they went full treason and tried to get Congress to reverse Biden’s win on the basis of the Big Lie? They were dreaming of a world of Trumpism without Trump. They thought that if they cravenly did Trump’s bidding now, once he was gone his base would be theirs.

Hawley and Cruz are so power hungry, they would burn America to the ground if they thought they could be president of its ashes.

But they’re fools. As Trump and his kids made clear at the rally that inspired some of his supporters to ransack the Capitol, the Trumps are interested only in Trumpism with Trumps.

Or as Donald Trump Jr. explained to the soon-to-be rioters (whom Ivanka called “patriots”), the G.O.P. needed a wake-up. All those Republicans in Congress, said Don Jr., “did nothing to stop the steal. This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

If you look closely, there are actually four different Republican factions today: principled conservatives, cynically tactical conservatives, unprincipled conservatives and Trump cultists. In the principled conservatives camp, I’d put Romney and Murkowski. They are the true America firsters. While animated by conservative ideas about small government and free markets, they put country and Constitution before party and ideology. They are rule-abiders.

In the cynically tactical conservative camp, which you could call the Mitch McConnell camp, I’d put all of those who tried to humor Trump for a while — going along with his refusal to acknowledge the election results until “all the legal votes were counted” — but once the Electoral College votes were cast by each state, slid into the reality-based world and confirmed Biden’s victory, some sooner than others.

“I call them the ‘rule-benders,’” explained pollster Craig Charney. “They are ready to bend the rules but not break them.”

The unprincipled Republicans — the “rule-breakers” in Charney’s lingo — are led by Hawley and Cruz, along with the other seditious senators and representatives who tried to get Congress to block its ceremonial confirmation of Biden’s election.

Finally, there are the hard-core Trump cultists and QAnon conspiracy types, true believers in and purveyors of the Big Lie.

I just don’t see how these four camps stay together. And for America’s sake, I hope they don’t.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Trump lost the election. Now he is losing financial and political support.

Trump and his minions are facing tremendous pressure in the aftermath of the January 6 riot (aka insurrection). Trump is losing, by the hour it seems, financial supporters. And his political friends are baling out.

Heather Cox Richardson summarizes these developments and Judd Legum has lots of detail.

January 11, 2021 edition of Letters from an American posted by Heather Cox Richardson.

The tide is running strongly now against Trump and those who have supported him in his attack on our democracy. What had been shock on Wednesday is hardening into fury. Yesterday, Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) tweeted: “I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the President of the United States was completely MIA while the next three individuals in the lines of succession (VP, Speaker of House, Senate Pres[ident] Pro Tempore) were under assault in the Capitol. Unconscionable.”

As of tonight, the government remains MIA. We have had no briefings from the White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, or the Justice Department about what happened on January 6, or what has happened since. And now acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has resigned, effective at midnight tonight. He will be replaced by FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor.

The crisis is breaking the Republican Party in two. Newly elected House members have expressed dismay that they have not gotten clear instructions from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on how they should approach this week’s votes. They say they only have the sense he would like them to support the president: pretty weak sauce to hold a coalition together.

McCarthy has his own troubles. He is closely tied to the president—Trump called him “my Kevin”– and has been telling people that the Republicans will take the House in 2022 as voters turn against Biden, who is inheriting a colossal mess that it appears Republicans are working to make as bad as possible. But suddenly Trump is toxic. All of a sudden, McCarthy is talking about unity and working across the aisle: “As leaders, we must call on our better angels and refocus our efforts on working directly for the American people.”

McCarthy is facing the same problem Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is: they are supposed to bring in campaign cash, but suddenly corporations are announcing they will no longer make political donations… at least to Republicans. Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria at Popular Information yesterday broke the story that Marriott, BlueCross BlueShield, and Commerce Bank would not contribute to the 147 Republicans who objected to the counting of the electoral votes in Congress. That’s more than half the Republicans in Congress. Verizon, AT&T, and Amazon have now joined that boycott. Citigroup, 3M, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and JPMorgan Chase have all halted political giving for several months, and a number of other companies say they are reevaluating their giving. T-Mobile told Popular Information: “The assault on the U.S. Capitol and on democracy was unacceptable.”

Here is an update from popular.info.

It is no wonder that both McCarthy and Scott are madly backpedaling from their former pro-Trump stances and now calling for an end to partisan rancor. According to Jonathan Swan of Axios, in a phone call this morning, Trump tried to tell McCarthy it was “Antifa people” who stormed the Capitol. But McCarthy was having none of it: “It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there.” When Trump tried to rant about election fraud, McCarthy interrupted: “Stop it. It’s over. The election is over.”

But the crisis is not. Army and police forces are investigating their officers who either did participate or may have participated in the riot. The FBI warned today that online activists are planning armed protests in Washington, D.C., and at all fifty state capitols between January 16 and 20, although it is not clear that their plans will translate into mass protests. In the wake of the attack, Trump supporters are harassing lawmakers, making them fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

As Yale historian Joanne Freeman noted, threats of political violence are a means of intimidation, a way to dominate a situation when a party does not have the support of the majority. Trump’s approval rating has dropped to 33%, with 60% of voters disapproving of his job performance. Fifty-six percent of voters blame Trump for the storming of the Capitol.

Trump supporters are growing more violent perhaps because the wave against them is building. Today Hillary Clinton called for impeachment and condemned white supremacy, hardly a surprise coming from the former Democratic presidential candidate, but the news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a well-regarded retired four-star general and Republican senior statesman, has rejected the Republican Party sits a little harder. Perhaps even worse is that Bill Belichick, general manager of the New England Patriots and previously a Trump supporter, today declined to accept Trump’s offer of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Insurgents now face institutional pressure, as well. The Department of Justice and the FBI are tracking down more than 150 suspects for prosecution—so far—and hackers today claimed to have captured the personal data of Parler users from Parler servers, including material that users believed they had deleted after the January 6 Capitol riot. Since rioters stole laptops and documents that included items relating to national security, they are not going to be able to drop off the radar screen.

Trump is also under pressure, the pressure of impeachment, of course, and the loss of his social media platforms. He is also under financial pressure, as Deutsche Bank, the only bank that would still lend to him, has announced it will no longer do business with him. But, according to Maggie Haberman at the New York Times, what is upsetting him most is that the PGA has pulled its 2022 golf championship from Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.

That, not the riots, not the deaths, not impeachment, and certainly not the coronavirus–which has now killed more than 375,000 of us—has “gutted” him.

One of the darkest days in American history

THE CONVERSATION at the NY Times: Trump Is Making Pence Look GoodSomewhat in the way that Keith Richards used to make the rest of the Rolling Stones look sober. Brett Stephens and Gail Collins debate. Here are a couple of clips.

Gail Collins: Well Bret, we’ve just got a little more than a week left of the Trump presidency. Think we’ve got time for one more impeachment?

Bret Stephens: Impeach we must, Gail, and impeach we shall. Our colleague Jamelle Bouie got it exactly right when he wrote that “a physical attack on Congress by violent Trump supporters egged on by the president demands a direct response from Congress itself.” If Congress won’t impeach and remove him from office on those grounds alone, it will undermine its place as a coequal branch of government, while licensing similar attacks by all sorts of people on government institutions in the future.

Bret Stephens: I hope we never forget Jan. 6, 2021, as one of the darkest days in American history. Even though the loss of life was much less, it was, in a moral sense, worse than Dec. 7, 1941, or Sept. 11, 2001, when we were attacked by foreign enemies. On 1/6, we were attacked by domestic enemies, led by the president of the United States. He violated his oath of office. He slandered his vice president. He directed an attack on the Congress. He incited the sacking of the Capitol. He did nothing helpful while the barbarians were inside the gate, and even blew them a kiss on Twitter. He attempted to stop an election for the purposes of stealing it. He kept faith with the most despicable Americans among us: neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, the QAnon conspiracy lunatics and the morons in Viking suits. His followers killed a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick.

Bret: Now there has to be a reckoning. Trump cannot be allowed to “go quietly,” as some of my conservative friends have suggested. (It isn’t in his nature, anyway.) And 1/6 can’t be allowed to go down the collective memory hole under the phony name of “healing.” If Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy want healing, that has to begin by owning up to their complicity in Trump’s efforts to steal an election, subvert the Constitution, sow seditious falsehoods and corrupt the public mind.

<<Thanks to Editor-at-Large Sherry for the tip.

FBI warns of armed protests by extremist groups

FBI warns of plans for ‘armed protests’ at all 50 state capitols next week. The AP reports, via the Daily Star.

The FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed after last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

A tweet in which Trump promised that last Wednesday’s event “will be wild” fueled a “month-long frenzy of incitements, strategizing, and embrace of violence against lawmakers,” according to a research group that tracks online extremism activity, In a report issued Saturday, the SITE Intelligence Group also warns that the Capitol attack has emboldened Trump-supporting extremists.

“No matter how all this plays out, its only the beginning,” posted a user on TheDonald message board, according to the report.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The mob is the GOP

Quote of the Day: “The notion that the Republican Party can be separated from the mob is nonsensical. The mob is the party’s base.” - Jennifer Rubin.

For some Republicans, it’s time to head for the exits opines Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin. Here are excerpts.

Readers know that for a couple of years, I have argued that the Republican Party failed the test of character and decency when it embraced President Trump and, therefore, should be leveled. The insurrection this past week highlights how essential it is to leave a party that is now thoroughly infested with neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic and lawless elements.

It is no surprise that several Republican state elected officials have been identified as having participated in Wednesday’s riot. The Associated Press reports: “[West Virginia] State Del. Derrick Evans was among lawmakers from at least seven states who traveled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations rooted in the baseless conspiracy theory that Democrat Joe Biden stole the presidential election. Wearing a helmet, Evans ultimately joined a screaming mob as it pushed its way into the Capitol building, and livestreamed himself joyfully strolling inside.”

There’s more. The Louisiana Illuminator reports: “Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry belongs to an association that helped lead, finance and organize the right-wing rally on behalf of President Donald Trump that ended with a violent attack at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.”

The involvement of so many elected Republicans not simply in perpetuating the lie of a stolen election but in participating in a deadly event in which anti-Semitic, pro-Confederate thugs roamed the halls of Congress is horrifying, but predictable. The rioters on Capitol Hill — even before committing a slew of crimes — were decked in neo-Nazi/ and racist regalia. They refused to allow democracy to take its course. This was the band elected officials joined or supported.

For ordinary Republicans, it’s time to leave if you are repulsed by a party that:

  • Supports a president despite overwhelming evidence of impeachable conduct;
  • Refuses to demand Trump’s removal even after inciting insurrection;
  • Fails to discipline or expel seditious members who sought to overthrow the election results;
  • Refuses to accept objective reality;
  • Harbors elected leaders who physically joined the mob;
  • Tolerates — and embraces, in some cases! — the symbols and views of insurrectionists.

The party isn’t going to change, so it might be time for some Republicans to head for the exits. They might find a whole lot of familiar faces on the way out.

More from AZGOP

The AZGOP continues to hate John McCain. They’re digging themselves deeper and deeper into a pile of bat poop crazy. Arizona’s Maricopa County GOP censures ex-Sen. Jeff Flake, plans vote to also censure Cindy McCain. The AZGOP tweeted: As the sun sets on 2020, remember that we’re never going back to the party of Romney, Flake, and McCain.

Tim Steller’s opinion: After fomenting insurrection in D.C., Rep. Finchem must be removed.

For weeks, Finchem has been conspiring to disenfranchise you, me and every other Arizona voter by claiming electoral fraud occurred and justifies the Legislature picking the state’s presidential electors — Trump’s electors, in case you had any doubt.

Last week, Finchem topped that by promoting and attending the Jan. 6 insurrection against the U.S. government and Constitution in Washington, D.C.

… A censure by the House is a no-brainer and hardly merits mentioning. Expulsion should be considered.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Why and How Two Kinds of Republicans Will be the Ruination of Our American Democracy

In the New York Times, Timothy Snyder ponders The American Abyss. A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next. Excerpts follow.

For a shorter version, see Dartagnan’s summary in the Daily Kos: ‘The American Abyss,’ Timothy Snyder’s op-ed in the NYTimes is scary accurate, and pulls no punches..

Here’s where it goes.

party
The Mob Invades the Capitol

… the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn an election must be shared by a very large number of Republican members of Congress. Rather than contradict Trump from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to flourish. They had different reasons for doing so. One group of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections with a minority of motivated voters. They have no interest in the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that allows their minority party disproportionate control of government. The most important among them, Mitch McConnell, indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its consequences.

Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They might actually break the system and have power without democracy. The split between these two groups, the gamers and the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10 other senators. More than a hundred Republican representatives took the same position. For many, this seemed like nothing more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.

Yet for Congress to traduce its basic functions had a price. An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow. Members of Congress who sustained the president’s lie, despite the available and unambiguous evidence, betrayed their constitutional mission. Making his fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh. Now Trump could demand that senators and congressmen bow to his will. He could place personal responsibility upon Mike Pence, in charge of the formal proceedings, to pervert them. And on Jan. 6, he directed his followers to exert pressure on these elected representatives, which they proceeded to do: storming the Capitol building, searching for people to punish, ransacking the place.

Of course this did make a kind of sense: If the election really had been stolen, as senators and congressmen were themselves suggesting, then how could Congress be allowed to move forward? For some Republicans, the invasion of the Capitol must have been a shock, or even a lesson. For the breakers, however, it may have been a taste of the future. Afterward, eight senators and more than 100 representatives voted for the lie that had forced them to flee their chambers.

Please go read the whole thing. Chances are that many of you, my readers, and I will be around in 2024. We need to be informed about what to expect from those who would put our democracy down.

January 6th - A day of infamy. Intentional insurrection by Trump and his followers

And, while the capitol was invaded and trashed, Trump and his family watched and partied on. There is more to come.

Quote of the Week: “There may be a 2nd attempt for a Reichstag. ” - A Twitter User.

Everything about the Trump insurrection was planned … except failing reports Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos Staff.

Most of his report is here.

On Wednesday, supporters of Donald Trump pushed through police lines, stormed the U.S. Capitol, smashed windows, broke open doors, and went prowling through the halls with flexi-cuffs seeking congressional hostages. In the following hours and days, Republicans have expressed shock at this totally unexpected event, and Trump-appointed Pentagon officials have stated that the violence was “beyond their wildest dreams.” But Republicans have had over four years to understand exactly who Donald Trump is, what he is capable of doing, and who his followers are. Law enforcement officials at every level had not only a very good idea of the scale of this event, but the amount of violence it would bring.

The nation may be shocked by the visuals of what happened on Wednesday. People wearing horned helmets, T-shirts with Nazi slogans, and waving Confederate banners through the halls of Congress, made some draw parallels to the sacking of Rome by barbarian hordes. However, two days after this spontaneous event, the thing that’s become most clear is that it wasn’t spontaneous at all. It’s not just the culmination of everything Republicans have been doing for decades, it’s also an event that was launched, intentionally, as an insurrection against the United States.

Trump has been laying the groundwork for this moment from the beginning

Trump’s encouragement of violence from his followers goes back to before he began occupying the White House. That includes encouraging people to beat up protesters at his rallies, calling for and then deploying active military forces to face immigrants seeking asylum, praising Nazi marchers at Charlottesville who were complicit in the murder of a peaceful protester, and repeatedly making threats of violence against Black Lives Matter protesters and others. Trump has made it absolutely clear to his followers that violence—including deadly force—is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged.

Even if Trump had lost in 2016, he had already prepared his supporters to use violence as a means of overturning the results of the election. The same claims of election fraud and polling fraud had already been laid then, because Trump expected to lose. And the same calls for his supporters to carry out violent response and “monitor” the polls with armed poll-watchers had prompted the nation for widespread violence that was only halted by Trump’s surprising win.

Trump positioned officials to clear the way for violence in Washington, D.C.

Immediately after the election, Donald Trump began replacing Pentagon officials—and not just any officials. Trump explicitly replaced those officials who were directly responsible for the deployment and disposition of forces that protect the capital. Included in his targeting were those who had objected to the use of active military to attack peaceful protests over the summer.

Over the summer, Trump brought in unidentified forces including riot squads from the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals—none of them trained in dealing with civilian protests—to push back against peaceful marchers from Black Lives Matter following the police murder of George Floyd. In addition, Trump officials lead the Park Police, Secret Service, and others in what was frequently referred to as massive overresponse to small numbers of nonviolent protesters. All the while, Trump equated violence with “law and order” and used claims about shadowy antifa forces to justify going into cities over the objections of mayors and governors.

Through his time in the White House, Trump has tested the boundaries of using military forces—active military, National Guard, and irregular forces—to control civilian populations. It’s clear that he understands exactly where the controls for that power are located and exactly how requests for assistance can be met, or thwarted.

Trump’s November moves at the Pentagon now look like express preparation for exactly the moment that came on Wednesday.

Trump planned Wednesday’s event expressly to intimidate Congress

The placement of the event on Jan. 6 was, without any doubt, meant to intimidate representatives and senators during the count of the Electoral College vote. Trump meant this event to encourage objections to that vote—he said as much during the rally just before the assault. It’s clear from phone calls made by Rudy Giuliani that Trump wanted his supporters in Congress to object over and over, generating the maximum possible delay. And it’s clear from Trump’s own statements that he hoped to force Mike Pence into taking action beyond the law, forcing the ceremonial count to end without declaring Joe Biden the winner and pushing the next steps back into the courts.

The howling mob Trump unleashed was terrorism in its purest sense. They were meant to cause terror. To Congress. To interfere with the transition of power.

The event in Washington was designed to be violent, and it was funded by dark money

Trump was pleased with the numbers of attendees at his rally on Wednesday, and he certainly wasn’t turning away his normal crowd of racists, xenophobes, nationalists, and christianists. But this event was expressly built to attract those who Trump had already told to “Stand by,” including the Proud Boys and other Nazi groups who were invited to Washington, D.C. for a “wild” event.

One day after Proud Boys and other white supremacists invaded Washington for a violent demonstration, Trump made it clear he wanted them back. “Big protest in DC on January 6th,” tweeted Trump. “Be there, will be wild!”

Despite the roughly $500 million that Trump has raked directly into his own pocket through fundraising over false claims of election fraud, Trump didn’t actually pay for or organize the rally that launched the insurrection at the Capitol. Instead, that money came from … Republican attorneys general.

The Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), a 501(c)(4) arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), helped organize the protest preceding the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol that took place on January 6, 2021.

Those who broke into the Capitol were not harmless clowns

While there were certainly plenty of people dressed in ridiculous costumes among the hundreds who invaded the Capitol building and the thousands who stood on the steps outside, none of them were harmless. Or funny. Included in the group were genuine Nazis, skinheads, militia members … and Republican officials.

And they made it clear that they were not there for a symbolic romp through the halls of Congress. They were there for Congress. Here are the words of one of those who invaded the House and Senate:

“Today the cowards ran as we took back the Capitol. They have it back now only because we left. It wasn’t the building that we wanted … It was them!”

How serious were they about capturing members of Congress and holding them hostage? Some of them were extremely serious.

Here are videos and photos of rioters packing pistols.

This same crowd also constructed a gallows on the law outside, complete with steps and a ready noose.

This was not a spontaneous event, it was a failed coup

Planned for months, supported by new officials at the Pentagon, supported by big-money Republican donors, and cheered on by Trump supporters in Congress … this was not a spontaneous or unexpected event. It was a purposely staged event meant to disrupt the final stage of a U.S. election, throw the nation into chaos, and perhaps end with the televised murder of members of Congress.

As it was unfolding, Trump’s family was treating this exactly like what it was: something they welcomed and celebrated. The image of a gallows raised in front of the Capitol is on screen as Kimberly Guilfoyle dances.

They weren’t watching this event with disgust and shock. They were loving it. They were waiting for that moment when Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer might be hauled out to the roars of the crowd. They were waiting for blood. They were cheering for America to fall.

The only thing that wasn’t planned at this event … was failing. Trump didn’t anticipate that Congress would return to the building and complete the vote count. He didn’t think that Mike Pence would carry on naming Joe Biden as the victor. He didn’t anticipate that much of the American public would recoil in horror. Most of all, he didn’t expect that most of Congress would respond with anger rather than fear.

Donald Trump doesn’t just need to be removed. He, his family, and everyone involved in the planning of this event need to understand what it means to be on the losing end of a coup attempt.

But the first step is getting him out. Now.

Underscoring the urgency of removal, we are told of more such attacks on our democracy - on the way to the inauguration.

On Twitter: ShockwaveBobBlueMass
Jan 08, 2021 at 10:12:46 AM
There may be a 2nd attempt for a Reichstag. This at Parlor; (sic)

party
Trump supporters party on

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Trump's rioters defile our national capitol - but the score stands - Democracy 1, Trump 0.

In October 2017, the Scribers spent several days touring the nation’s capitol. One of the high points was the Capitol building. Visitors cannot help but experience a feeling of national pride, for example, when visiting the National Statuary Hall.

This last week, that grand Hall was defiled by rioters egged on by a low-life grifter who pretends to be our president who has no respect for our capitol and for what it represents - our democracy.

NPR reports: Trumpism Suffers Untold Damage In Its Collision With The U.S. Capitol.

(Ron Elving for NPR; thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

BEGIN QUOTE

It took a building to bring down Donald Trump.

Unleashing the angriest of his supporters this week against the U.S. Capitol may have been only the culmination of Trump’s 60-month campaign against the Washington establishment.

But it was also its undoing. And his.

When the crowd that Trump whipped up on the Ellipse marched up the National Mall with his blessing and encouragement, they became a mob assaulting and invading the Capitol.

The Capitol is the closest thing to a national civic temple we have or would ever want in America. People who have been there once remember the awe they felt. People who go there nearly every day can still have that feeling.

That was why we were sickened by the real-time video and endlessly repeated images of desecration and terror on Wednesday — images we will live with for the rest of our lives.

In substance, the mob’s aim was to stop the orderly, bipartisan process of electing a president. Serious as that was, what gave it the force to shock and change minds was the spectacle of it happening where it did.

Americans were sickened, and they shared that feeling across a wider spectrum of the nation’s political sentiment than at any time since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There are no words to capture the spirit of the Capitol. And it is no accident that the occasions on which Trump has seemed most presidential — and was most praised for it — were his State of the Union addresses, delivered to joint sessions of Congress in the House chamber.

He entered that chamber for those addresses through a door that on Wednesday was barricaded with furniture, plainclothes officers crouching behind with weapons drawn. Rioters could be seen through the shattered windows. Members of Congress, old and young, men and women, Republicans and Democrats, ducked and scrambled and hid.

Forgotten for the moment was the business at hand. But to its eternal credit, the Congress returned to that same chamber later that night. It resumed the counting of votes from the Electoral College, votes cast on Dec. 14 in 50 state capitals and in the District of Columbia. Votes certified by every governor in America. Votes upheld in more than 60 cases in state and federal court.

There had been talk of reconvening the session at a more secure location. There were obvious reasons to do so.

But there was one overriding reason to come back to the Capitol. And that was the Capitol itself. No other venue could invoke the same history and convey the same legitimacy. The Capitol is the embodiment of constitutional authority – and also of our national spirit. A moving example for many was the sight of second-term Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey, the son of Korean immigrants, down on his knees in the Rotunda after midnight, helping clean up of bottles and trash rioters had left behind.

Just ransacked, just garbage and debris everywhere, all of it all over the statues, all over the floor,“ he told a reporter. ”It was really painful to see this room and this building that I love so much hurting."

Provocations aplenty

The invasion of the Capitol was not the first act of resistance to the election by Trump or his most intense loyalists. The rioters wanted to stop the count because Trump had told them that would mean another election could be held — at least in the states he falsely claimed he had won.

Three days earlier, the nation was able to hear an exceptionally clear hourlong tape of phone call of Trump urging, cajoling and pressuring state officials in Georgia to “find” enough votes to change the outcome of the November election in that state. It was stunning, undeniable and potentially incriminating.

And yet we heard few cries of impeachment, few calls for an early transfer of power. Until Wednesday. And since then, those cries and calls are coming from a growing chorus in Congress, including members of both parties. They are even coming from people such as John Kelly, the retired four-star Marine general who served as Trump’s chief of staff for a year and a half, and the iconic retired Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

These calls came despite the fact that Trump is leaving office anyway, in less than two weeks.

Why the sudden collapse of Trump’s presidency? Yes, part of what is happening relates to the pandemic and economic unease and all the other transgressions that led to his impeachment and to his electoral defeat. Yes, it stems from his refusal to accept that defeat.

But the final nail was the assault on the Capitol.

More than a physical space

The Capitol was begun in 1793 when George Washington laid the cornerstone, and it has been the site where Congress has counted the Electoral College vote every time since the election of 1800. Work on the Capitol Dome was finished during the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln insisted on its completion as a measure of faith in the future.

It has been assaulted before. British troops burned it in 1814, before it had even been completed. More recent violent acts have included bombings and fatal shootings. In 1954, a group of Puerto Rican separatists fired pistols from the House gallery striking several members of Congress.

Still fresh for many is the memory of the Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001, when members were told to evacuate because one more jet airliner hijacked that day was still aloft. A commission later determined that jet was destined for the Capitol Dome when its passengers retook the cockpit and crashed it into a Pennsylvania field. The thought of what could have happened has haunted everyone who remembers it.

But the comparative rarity of those attacks and the reverberating shocks from them underscore the building’s significance. The structure is magnificent, the art inside is priceless. The decisions and debates heard here shaped our history through two centuries. The most important of our leaders have lain in state here.

But that is not what lends timeless significance to the place. What matters most is the message it conveys.

It is the manifestation of the concepts of liberty, self-determination and the rule of law. It embodies the sacrifices of all who have served the country, and especially those who died in that service.

If we still have the capacity as a nation to honor all of that, we should be as disturbed when a president defies the law as we are when rioters desecrate the place where the law is made.

END QUOTE

Here are reports on Jan 6th - and also plans laid for additional riots before the innauguration

Seth Meyers has lots to say about the January 6th riot. It’s on YouTube. (Thanks to Mrs. Scriber.)

But those responsible for that horrific event are not going away any time soon. The seeds of sedition planted by Trump et al. grow deep. Heather Cox Richardson reports on additional riots being planned in the January 8, 2021 edition of Letters from an American. Excerpts follow.

More information continues to emerge about the events of Wednesday. They point to a broader conspiracy than it first appeared. Calls for Trump’s removal from office are growing. The Republican Party is tearing apart. Power in the nation is shifting almost by the minute.

More footage from inside the attack on the Capitol is coming out and it is horrific. Blood on statues and feces spread through the building are vile; mob attacks on police officers are bone-chilling.

Reuters photographer Jim Bourg, who was inside the building, told reporters he overheard three rioters in “Make America Great Again” caps plotting to find Vice President Mike Pence and hang him as a “traitor”; other insurrectionists were shouting the same. Pictures have emerged of one of the rioters in military gear carrying flex cuffs—handcuffs made of zip ties—suggesting he was planning to take prisoners. Two lawmakers have suggested the rioters knew how to find obscure offices.

New scrutiny of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the attack shows Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), Don Jr., and Trump himself urging the crowd to go to the Capitol and fight. Trump warned that Pence was not doing what he needed to. Trump promised to lead them to the Capitol himself.

After Trump on Wednesday night tweeted that there would be an “orderly” transition of power, on Thursday he began again to urge on his supporters.

With the details and the potential depth of this event becoming clearer over the past two days—Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia, tweeted her support, and state lawmakers as well as Republican attorneys general were actually involved—Americans are recoiling from how bad this attempted coup was… and how much worse it could have been. The crazed rioters were terrifyingly close to our elected representatives, all gathered together on that special day, and they were actively talking about harming the vice president.

But after time for the public to contemplate what went down on the 6th, the tide of public opinion seems to be shifting, almost over night.

By Friday night, 57% of Americans told Reuters they wanted Trump removed from office immediately. Nearly 70% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s actions before the riot. Only 12% of Americans approved of the rioters; 79% of Americans described the rioters as “criminals” or “fools.” Five percent called them “patriots.”

… A trial can indeed take place after Trump is no longer president, enabling Congress to make sure he can never again hold office.

Whether or not the Senate would convict is unclear, but it’s not impossible. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), for one, is so furious she is talking of switching parties. “I want him out,” she says. Still, Trump supporters are now insisting that it would “further divide the country” to try to remove Trump now, and that we need to unify. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who led the Senate effort to challenge Biden’s election, today tweeted that Biden was not working hard enough to “bring us together or promote healing” and that “vicious partisan rhetoric only tears our country apart.”

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to agitate his followers, and today began to call for more resistance, …

This has been a horrific week. If it has a silver lining, it is that the lines are now clear between our democracy and its enemies. The election in Georgia, which swung the Senate away from the Republicans and opens up some avenues to slow down misinformation, is a momentous victory.

Friday, January 8, 2021

What we're up against

Quote of the Day: “I don’t think that most of the people in the mainstream of American culture, who have viewed this week with horror, have any idea what they’re up against.” -JVL at The Bulwark

So what are we up against? To find out, read this essay by Jonathon V. Last: It Could Have Been Worse. And unless we act now, it will be. Here is a small bit of it.

Many of the insurrectionists storming the house were wearing body armor and helmets. A few were carrying zip ties. We have no idea how many of them were armed. These people built a forking gallows outside the Capitol.

You think this was spontaneous? Someone just happened to carrying around some 4x4’s and hardware and another guy had plywood and some third patriot had rope and it was all serendipity?

Here are some polling data.

  • An overwhelming majority of R’s saw the Capitol insurrection as NBD.
  • A plurality of R’s outright approved of it.
  • A majority of R’s blame Joe Biden for anything that wasn’t kosher.
  • And keep in mind: This was a snap poll taken before the right-wing echo chamber started arguing that anything bad that happened was the result of secret antifa infiltrators.

Harris ran a poll yesterday and found basically the same thing:

  • 64 percent of R’s approve of how Trump handled January 6.
  • 57 percent of R’s said Trump had done enough to stop any violence.

Republican voters … think everything is fine, with the exception of the fact that 77 percent of Trump’s voters—*77 percent*—say he was the rightful winner and that the election was stolen from him.

Thoughts about the Jan 6 riot at the Capitol

In the January 7, 2021 edition of Letters from an American Heather Cox Richardson summarizes the Jan 6 riot and its aftermath.

The tide has turned against Trump and his congressional supporters, and they are scrambling.

Yesterday’s [Jan 6] insurrection at the Capitol has brought widespread condemnation. Today all four of the living presidents—Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama– called out Trump and his party for inciting the rioters. Bill Clinton summed it up: “The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another…. The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost. The election was free, the count was fair, the result was final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.”

And, despite the horrific riot, “we”, the Congress, got it done.

If Pence will not support removing the president through the 25th Amendment, Pelosi says, the House will move to impeach him. Congressional Democrats circulated articles of impeachment today, and Schumer told reporters: “I don’t care if you’re Democrat, Republican liberal, conservative, from the Northeast, South or West… if what happened yesterday doesn’t convince you that the president should be out of office now, then something is very wrong with your beliefs about democracy.”

As calls for his removal still continued, [Trump] faced video cameras …, giving a speech that revealed his realization that he’s on the ropes. He tried to rise above the partisan crises of the past months and to pretend that he had, all along, simply been defending democracy. He condemned yesterday’s violence but did not concede the election to President-Elect Biden although he acknowledged that Biden would take power. He also did not tell his supporters it was over. “To all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed,” he said, “but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”

“Only the beginning”? He just gave his riotous troops the go ahead for more violence.

Senator Haw-Haw loses book contract

Trump is not alone as he scrambles to cover over his complicity in yesterday’s crisis. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), whose willingness to join the House members who were going to challenge the counting of the votes, and who thus was a key figure in making their false accusations seem legitimate, watched his star plummet today. His key mentor, former Senator John Danforth (R-MO), said supporting Hawley was the “worst mistake of my life.” One of Hawley’s major donors called him “an anti-democracy populist” who provoked the riots, and called for his censure.

When Simon & Schuster canceled Hawley’s new book contract, the senator fought back, insisting that he was a victim of “cancel culture,” with “the Left looking to cancel everyone they don’t approve of.” He insisted this was a “direct assault on the First Amendment,” and that all he had been doing with his challenges to counting the electoral votes from certain states was “representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity.” It was a desperate statement that he must have known to be false. The First Amendment protects us from censorship from the government: a private publishing company is under no obligation to publish anything. And the courts have rejected the idea that preventing Congress from counting the certified votes from citizens of other states is a legitimate way to represent his constituents.

The editorial board of the St. Louis Dispatch from Hawley’s home state wasn’t having it. “Americans have had enough of Trumpism and the two-faced, lying, populist politicians who embraced it,” the board wrote. “Hawley’s presidential aspirations have been flushed down the toilet because of his role in instigating Wednesday’s assault on democracy. He should do Missourians and the rest of the country a big favor and resign now…. Trumpism must die before it morphs into Hitlerism.”

Hawley is just one bad apple in the bushel of smelly self-serving pols called the Republican party.

And if that was not enough, …

The disparity in treatment of yesterday’s rioters and Black Lives Matter protesters reflects the reality that authorities treat protesters differently according to their perceived political identification. FiveThirtyEight’s Maggie Koerth interviewed Roudabeh Kishi, whose research team tracked police violence in the U.S. from May 1 to November 28, 2020, and Koerth writes that authorities were “more than twice as likely to attempt to break up and disperse a left-wing protest than a right-wing one.” When they did intervene, they used force 51% of the time for the left and only 34% of the time for the right.

Arizona State University Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Ed Maguire told Koerth: “I think protesters on the right, because they view the police as in their corner, they feel a sense of tacit permission.”