Nel's New Day

April 15, 2021

Biden’s Foreign Policy, Domestic Terrorism

While Republicans complain about President Joe Biden’s inaction and lack of lying bombast exhibited by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Biden is quietly strengthening U.S. foreign policy.

Today Biden sanctioned 40 Russian groups and individuals for the Russian major cyber espionage operation, operations to elect DDT in the past two presidential elections, the massive Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border, and Russia’s ongoing occupation and “severe human rights abuses” in Crimea. He blocked U.S. financial institutions from purchasing bonds from Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund, and Ministry of Finance after June 14 and from lending money to these institutions. Biden also expelled ten people from Washington’s Russian diplomatic mission and considers sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt. He now proposes a summit where the U.S. and Russia can discuss these problems.

Republicans yell and whine about election fraud, but reports show DDT’s 2016 campaign manager in frequent, covert contact with a Chinese intelligence officer, once his business associate. Paul Manafort passed internal polling data to the operative who asked him to support a proposal to allow Chinese success in the South China Sea territorial disputes. Biden sanctioned the operative Konstantin Kilimnik, identified as a “Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf.” Manafort promoted the lie, still pushed by GOP congressional members, that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on DDT’s behalf. The FBI has a reward of $250,000 for Kilimnik’s arrest. DDT pardoned Manafort and freed him from prison. 

Kilimnik’s information from Manafort went through a secret pipeline, perhaps used throughout DDT’s four-year term, directly to Russian intelligence to defeat Hillary Clinton. A Senate Intelligence Committee report, endorsed by Republicans, marked him a “grave counterintelligence threat.” Secretary of State Antony echoed the Senate report by repeating the U.S. intelligence report that Russia “presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States.”

This week, Biden also gave September 11, 2021, as the deadline for removing the last 2,500 U.S. military members from Afghanistan. He selected the 20th anniversary of the foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil killing 3,000 people which led George W. Bush to start the “military mission” in the Middle East costing U.S. taxpayers almost $7 trillion. Biden said he will not pass the war to a fifth president and is following DDT’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops.

Today Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed Biden’s announcement with a surprise visit to Afghan leaders in Kabul and repeated the U.S. commitment to helping their government. He emphasized counter-terrorism cooperation and “protecting the rights of women and girls,” according to a department announcement.

Biden has also sent an unofficial delegation to Taiwan as “an important signal about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy,” according to an official. Last week, the USS John S. McCain went through the Taiwan Strait, and the carrier Theodore Roosevelt went to the South China Sea for “routine operations.” China typically protests the U.S. being in those international waters, especially with its support for Taiwan.

Biden plans to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, hoping for a joint statement supporting Taiwan and discussing China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang and influence over Hong Kong. Japan and the U.S. have not had a joint statement about Taiwan for over 50 years. The meeting prefaces one in May with Biden and South Korea’s President Moon Jae about managing China’s rising power and that of North Korea with the help of the Quad—Australia, India, Japan, and North Korea.

A U.S. negotiating team in Vienna led by Robert Malley is working with Iran representatives to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. Initially, they are working on the over 700 sanctions imposed by DDT to permanently destroy the deal. In efforts to scuttle any deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed pleasure when opposing Israelis reportedly bombed an Iranian nuclear facility. If Biden succeeds in redeeming the agreement, he plans to “expand and strengthen” the pact by covering Iran’s militant activities and missile program to obtain support from congressional opposition. Iran may hold off until after their elections in June.

Today, Inspector General Michael Bolton testified before the House Administration Committee about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and argued for a campus security overhaul. He said a deputy assistant chief of police told officers not to use any weapons including stingballs and 40mm launchers, weapons that could have helped them protect the Capitol. Thus far, one task force and over one-half dozen congressional committees have started investigations into why law enforcement failed to prevent the insurrection when hundreds of DDT’s supporters invaded and vandalized the Capitol building to stop the certification of Biden as the legal president.

Bolton, who may have the most complete examination of problems permitting the Capitol Police to be overrun by “deficiencies,” will continue the probe for several more months. He has already provided Congress with two interim reports about the lack of security clearances, personnel, equipment, and training to respond to these attacks. Calling for a “cultural change,” Bolton said law enforcement at the Capitol must move from the “traditional posture of a police department” to “a protection agency” focusing on preventing events like the January 6 riot. Preparation of a supplemental spending package for reforms of campus security will also use an evaluation from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré requested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA), in addition to Bolton’s recommendation to invest funding in training. That activity would include gathering, analyzing, and assessing intelligence for responses to future threats.

Following TheDonald.win before the Capitol attack would have made the high danger of violence on January 6 obvious. Participants covered ways to bring guns into D.C., quantity of ammunition, legal weapons such as stun guns and small knives, methods of attacking police officers with flagpoles and other objects, the best type of zip ties to use on congressional members certifying Biden’s election, and discussions of building the most effective gallows for use on disloyal congressional members according to the attackers. “Camarokirk” preferred a guillotine because it’s “more scary.” A dissenter brought up the problem of how “to get that big blade into town,” and the gallows the insurrectionists actually built, intended for VP Mike Pence, cost only $200. Many of the violent ideas on the website came to fruition on January 6 with right-wing domestic terrorists disrupting the presidential vote certification.

DDT encouraged the violence as shown by this tweet on December 19: 

 “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Website users traded maps, travel information, money, hotel recommendations, and organizations of cross-country caravans. Also available on the website were diagrams of the tunnel systems below the Capitol complex and ways of creating a “wall of death” by pushing the mob forward, forcing police to give up their positions.

A recent report shows that DDT, who told his conservative terrorist Proud Boys to “stand by” in his first presidential debate with Biden, is completely wrong in his obsession about the “left-wing problem” of domestic terrorism. Asked at the debate about white supremacists and fringe militia groups, he saw them as political allies and then pushed the far-left menace as being the danger. According to information from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the new highs of domestic terrorism events are chiefly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim, and anti-government extremists on the far right. The surge is the worst since the 1990s. The WaPo reported:

“Since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities, the data shows. At the same time, attacks and plots ascribed to far-left views accounted for 66 incidents leading to 19 deaths…. More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.”

The most common targets in these far-right events are mosques, synagogues, Black churches, abortion clinics, and government buildings, which have been “threatened, burned, bombed and hit with gunfire over the past six years.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) announced his panel would do a “significant dive” into domestic anti-government extremists, including radicalized groups’ possible connections to foreign allies. Earlier, Biden officials announced an overhaul of the government treatment of domestic terrorism with a “comprehensive threat assessment” by intelligence agencies. Former DHS officials from both parties agreed DDT’s failure to focus on “the rise of domestic threats” was among the agency’s problems. According to the NBC News report, these officials agreed:

“[I]t was the four years of inadequately monitoring and communicating the rising threat of right-wing domestic extremists that ultimately led to DHS’ failure to prevent [the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol].”

The New York Times reported that DDT’s administration “diverted” federal law enforcement and domestic security agencies, pressuring officials to “uncover a left-wing extremist criminal conspiracy that never materialized,” even as “the threat from the far right was building ominously.” It added that the FBI, “in particular, had increasingly expressed concern about the threat from white supremacists, long the top domestic terrorism threat, and well-organized far-right extremist groups that had allied themselves with the president.” DDT did not find these issues at all concerning. 

Time to “Build Back Better.”

April 10, 2021

DDT Gathers Faithful As Insurrection Reports Continue

With hundreds of his faithful followers gathering at Mar-a-Lago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is playing king for the weekend while reaping the financial benefits at his club, struggling since Joe Biden became president 81 days ago. DDT headlines the closed-door event to raise millions for the GOP in the luxury hotel Four Seasons four miles from DDT’s Florida estate, the location for his own fundraising. Participants can hear more lying rants about a “stolen” election wannabes such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton wait for DDT to give up. He also made the event a feeding frenzy against absent Republicans such as former VP Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Elaine Chao.

Fundraising comes at the end of a week when the media described DDT’s scams to rip off poor constituents. His campaign automatically took regular sums of money from donors, many of them poor, unless the victims rescinded this process after reading through the fine print. Outcries caused the campaign to return $122 million—11 percent of his take last fall—to hundreds of thousands of people who discovered they were duped. Many more not be aware of the their losses. For months DDT used the money interest-free.

Instead of backing down, the site now threatens people with being “reported” to DDT as “defectors” if they don’t donate. The NRCC is participating in DDT’s scamming the Republicans through texting a ten-minute chance to join DDT’s “new social media site”—which doesn’t exist—and then using a default box to double their pledge amount and make it recurring.  DDT’s campaign also sent out over 500 fundraising requests since his election. 

DDT isn’t the only GOP scammer. WinRed, the for-profit collecting a percentage of the donations, is now on the websites of GOP committees and congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and McConnell with the same pre-checked boxes at the end of text-heavy messages. The GOP website is based on ActBlue, a non-profit website where Democrats can donate to candidates.

The relationship between DDT and the RNC became tense last month when his PAC told other Republican groups to “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”

Competing with DDT’s event at another of his Florida properties, the Doral golf resort in Miami, is a conference hosted by Women in America First, a group leading the D.C. rally contributing to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Notable among guests are such GOP rejects as Rep, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), stripped of all her committee assignments only weeks after being sworn in, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), investigated for several federal charges including sex-trafficking. Gaetz gave the keynote speech.

As DDT is back to doing what he prefers—giving speeches and taking money–documents show how he was MIA on January 6 as his crowd attacked the U.S. Capitol. The media politely called DDT “disengaged” while insurrectionists beat up police and vandalized the U.S. legislative headquarters. He failed to stop the attacks for hours after VP Mike Pence, his life threatened by DDT’s followers, ordered acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to “clear the Capitol” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made desperate pleas to military leaders for the deployment of the National Guard.

The Pentagon and DDT wanted to avoid a military presence after ongoing fiascos during the Black Lives movement protests, including the use of helicopters over D.C. attempting to intimidate crowds. The Pentagon didn’t plan to notify Miller until the protesters numbered more than 20,000 at the Ellipse, but participants who went to the Capitol became immediately violent, breaking into the building and assaulting police officers in their way.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, now replaced, called the National Guard commanding general William Walker for help at 1:49 pm and repeated his request 20 minutes later. Meanwhile, senators ran from the chamber, and rioters went through their desks while more insurrectionists broke through more Capitol entrances to the House chamber. The troops weren’t activated for at least 75 minutes after the first panicky telephone call from Sund, and they still had to make their way from Andrews to the D.C. Armory before they went to the Capitol. Executing a plan took another two hours, but Pentagon security forces were guarding homes of defense leaders.

Two hours and 28 minutes after the first call, DDT finally tweeted his followers to “go home and go in peace.” Walker didn’t have approval to send the Guard to the Capitol for another 13 minutes. Almost three hours after their first call, Pelosi and Schumer again called Milley and the Pentagon leadership for help. The first contingent of 155 Guard members didn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. The Capitol wasn’t declared safe for over six hours after the Pentagon was told about the insurrection.

Thus far, 377 people have been charged for the Capitol insurrection. Almost 20 percent of them are connected to the military, either currently or in the past, many with dishonorable discharges. A new study of these arrested 377 people by Robert Pape, a specialist in security threats, examines demographics and county characteristics from their homes in 250 counties in 44 states. Some findings about the majority:

  • Most are older and more professional than right-wing protesters from the past.
  • They typically have no ties to current right-wing groups.
  • They are 95 percent White and 85 percent male.
  • Many live near or among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties, 52 percent of them Biden comfortably won.
  • “Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.”

Another report reveals law enforcement at the Capitol had expired ammunition, ineffective shields, and warnings from two weeks earlier about a map of the complex’s underground tunnels posted two weeks earlier on a pro-DDT website.  Capitol Police failed to establish standard operating procedures for the Civil Disturbance Unit and had fewer officers at the Capitol day than previously listed. Leadership ordered officers not to use all of its less-lethal options and “operated at a decreased level of readiness.” The intelligence division didn’t require security clearances and had no training program for all employees.

A riot defendant is exchanging a plea for testimony against the far-right extremist Proud Boys, one of the “paramilitary” groups attacking the Capitol.  About two dozen insurrectionists connected with the Proud Boys have been charged with federal crimes. Another rioter is flipping against the Oath Keepers, another extremist group.

After their December attack on a Black church in D.C., the Proud Boys may be short on resources because of a lawsuit for committing acts of terror. The group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, has refused to respond, leaving the church close to a default win. Although Tarrio says the group is not a legal entity, leaders are tied to a network of LLCs in Florida and other places, crowdfunding at a Christian site, and at least one online store selling merchandise, some of it on behalf of DDT’s friend Roger Stone.

Documents indicate the violence at the Capitol was orchestrated before January 6 by several groups including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and QAnon. Their goal was to stop the counting of the electoral college votes. Deputy to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and two other members guarding Stone were indicted after the discovery of 19 phone calls over three hours during the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Calls indicated coordination of storming the Capitol, likely by Rhodes, along with a previously organized strategy. The total of indicted Oath Keepers for the event is now 12.

DDT escaped conviction at his impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, but an investigation of his campaign shows his aides took dark money from campaign shell companies to subsidize the rallies—and riots. Women for America First, supposedly separate from DDT’s campaign, listed its staff members on a permit for the January 6 rally. They were directly paid by DDT’s 2020 campaign, and donations to DDT shelled out over $2.7 million to people and groups paying for the rally, one of them Megan Powers who received $290,000 for the campaign’s director of operations.

Fox network’s Tucker Carlson is spreading the fear of the “Great Replacement,” a theory believed by DDT’s supporters. White nationalists purport that mass migrations and low White birthrates supposedly replace White voters, perhaps why the insurrectionists come from counties with fast-increasing non-White populations. DDT spread the same fear almost four years ago by praising neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville (VA) and chanted “Jews will not replace us” before they beat up their protesters.   

Fox network, promoting the “replacement theory” opposing immigrants is run by immigrants: founder and co-chair Rupert Murdoch, born in Australia and living in the UK and the U.S.; co-chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch, born in London and living in Australia; chief legal and policy officer Viet Dinh, Vietnamese refugee born in Ho Chi Minh City; lead outside director Jacques Nasser, born in Lebanon and grew up in Australia; and Fox director Anne Dias-Griffin, born and educated in France. And Tucker Carlson’s mother was a Lombardi, Italian people who were lynched by white supremacists in the South during the early 20th century. He has replaced a “White” voter.

February 28, 2021

DDT Can’t Escape His History

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has left the White House and denied access to his favorite communication device, Twitter, but investigations into events during his term in the White House continues to be exposed.  

A recently released report explains how Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was involved in how Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, was coerced into the Saudi embassy in Turkey for the purpose of torturing him before his murder and dismemberment. DDT consistently covered up MBS’s involvement in the crime for a number of personal reasons. MBS was also a personal friend of DDT’s his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The released intelligence report now fully proves DDT knew about MBS’ involvement in the killing since its occurrence in October 2018 despite his repeated denials.

DDT had been enamored with Saudi Arabia and MBS since his inauguration. His journey to the country was his first foreign trip after he moved into the White House. The media fully covered the visit where he tried to participate in the sword dance and touched  the glowing “orb” along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. According to MBS, a new book by New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, DDT was given the orb, but people were afraid the photos people took with it would cause a scandal. Hubbard wrote, “The orb was hidden away in embassy storage.”

DDT’s not-so-secret weapon to derail mail-in voting, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has reappeared in a congressional hearing. In DeJoy’s first few weeks last June, he cut back workers, overtime, and equipment to drastically slow down first-class mail delivery so much that Congress tried to block him. Despite lost equipment from his beginning, most of the ballots managed to get delivered on time, thanks to the efforts of Democratic legislators. DeJoy has remained in his position because the DDT-appointed board for the postal service is leaving him there. During his hearing last Wednesday, DeJoy showed a high degree of arrogance. When Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked him how long he planned to remain as postmaster general, he responded, “Long time. Get used to me.”

In the hearing, DeJoy also promised greater delays in service along with higher prices, including no longer having two-day delivery for first-class mail and limit air transport for it. DeJoy said, “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” He didn’t address the fact that some first-class mail isn’t delivered for weeks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined other Republicans in accusing Democrats of conspiracy theories to create “chaos and confusion” in the information about delayed mail delivery. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) answered Jordan:

“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did.”

During the hearing, President Joe Biden announced his decision to fill the three vacancies on the nine-member USPS board with these nominees: Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Amber McReynolds, chief executive officer of Vote at Homes supporting mail-voting in the 2020 election; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general on Biden’s transition team. Stroman quit last year because of DeJoy’s position on delaying the mail. Two of the appointments are Democrats; McReynolds is unaffiliated. She was Denver’s director of elections from 2011 to 2018 where she implemented a complete vote-by-mail elections system for the city. Appointments include two men of color and a woman.

The current DDT-appointed chair, DDT-supporter Ron Bloom, can also be replaced because he took the place of another board member whose term ended in December 2020. All the Republican members on the board are friends of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, like DeJoy, have donated large sums to both the GOP and DDT. The entire board is composed of wealthy white men with limited postal service

Last week’s hearings included an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the House Appropriations Committee. Key moments:

Intelligence reported to the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters about an attack on January 5, but the department’s leadership wasn’t notified, according to former Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the insurrection. The FBI sent an email the night before the attack about an eminent attack, but Washington’s acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee said a late-night evening email was not sufficient to highlight the threat.

The insurrection was coordinated, with prepared people bringing equipment such as climbing gear, explosives, chemical spray, etc. They used hand signals and radio communications when they breached the building. Some rioters claimed they were caught up in the spirit of the event, but members of far-right extremist groups planned the attack for weeks and months, judging by the criminal charges against them. Even DDT’s lawyers claimed the attack was pre-planned during the impeachment trial.

Pentagon officials were either unable or unwilling to rapidly sent National Guard troops, as evidenced by their delay after desperate pleas for help.

Sund said he asked the two former congressional sergeants of arms for an emergency declaration to call in the National Guard, but neither one recalled the request. According to Sund, Paul Irving said he “was concerned about the ‘optics’ and didn’t feel the intelligence supported it.” Irving denied saying that and couldn’t remember talking to Sund although Sund said he made the request at 1:09 pm on January 6.

Phone records prove Irving ignored Sund’s pleas for help, according to Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, who said Sund called Irving at 12:58 pm to request the National Guard as rioters breached the building. Lawmakers were forced into hiding. Sund called Irving another four times until 1:45 pm.

The continued presence of law enforcement and a fence remains, according to Pittman because militia groups announced their intention to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when Biden addresses the Congress.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), responsible in the past for putting Russian disinformation into the Senate record, read  a statement from an observer standing out by the fence that the violence came only after police provoked the protesters and “fake Trump protesters” were at fault. Before the hearing he had said there was no armed insurrection on January 6.

DDT’s financial records including his tax returns for eight years—reportedly millions of pages—are now with Cy Vance, Manhattan’s district attorney, for review after the U.S. Supreme Court refused DDT’s appeal to block the subpoena. The question now is whether DDT can slow the process long enough to get past the statute of limitations, six years in New York. State law, however, now excludes the time when a person charged with a state crime while acting as president, but the question is whether this exclusion is also for criminal conduct predating the law’s passage. If the law holds up, the time for limitations begins on January 20, 2021. Vance also has only ten months left in his current term and doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, Vance has enlisted outside experts, including a forensic consulting firm, to examine the documents. The accounting records can determine fraud by showing how tax figures were calculated as were done in the Paul Manafort investigation. Manafort was sentenced to over seven years in prison before DDT pardoned him in December. Tax returns can also determine whether other financial records are false.

Despite DDT’s pardon for Steve Bannon, DDT’s former main strategist, DOJ prosecutors won’t dismiss the indictment against him as a matter of record. Bannon allegedly siphoned off over $1 million from GoFundMe donations for building part of DDT’s southern wall. According to Nixon v. United State, a pardon does not erase the grand jury finding probable cause for Bannon’s committing the indictment’s offenses. The prosecutors’ letter explained:

“Were the Court to dismiss the Indictment against Bannon, it could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”

Vance’s office has subpoenaed Wells Fargo and GoFundMe for financial records tied to Bannon’s crowd-funding effort. Bannon may face state criminal charges which cannot be pardoned by a president.

DDT may have a parallel with the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (NJ) which was leveled by an implosion on February 17, 2021. People paid $10 for watching it in person, and a front-row seat cost $575. The building was the first of DDT’s casinos going bankrupt with unpaid contractors and suppliers. During his campaign he bragged about how much money he made in Atlantic City where he put personal debts on the casinos, leaving debts to investors. The eyesore was destroyed as an “imminent hazard” because of falling debris and metal.

January 8, 2021

Democracy Holds—If People Keep Protecting It

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:04 PM
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From Sean Wilentz in The Rolling Stone: how we got here and how we should proceed.

January 6th, 2021, marked the saddest day in the history of American democracy since April 12th, 1861, the day South Carolina secessionists fired on Fort Sumter and commenced the Civil War. Assassinations, military atrocities, enacting horrific laws, all are shameful and wrenching, and forever stain the nation’s history. But deliberate and violent attacks on the nation’s essential institutions of government, incited by elected leaders, are rarer, and they cut to the heart of our democracy as those other shocks do not. Looking back, only the attack on Sumter surpasses in severity the Trumpist sacking of the Capitol as a direct, calculated, and unashamed repudiation of the nation’s constitutional order.

Indeed, while hardly identical, 1861 and 2021 bear some unmistakable similarities. Both breaches resulted from the refusal of millions of Americans to accept the election of a new president: Abraham Lincoln then, Joe Biden now. In both instances, reactionary forces, charging the federal government with tyranny and claiming the mantle of the American Revolution, attacked that government with insurrectionary force. While it of course does not rank anywhere near declaring the Union dissolved, the Trumpists’ successful disruption of a solemn ritual of elective democracy displayed a fervid and portentous contempt for the democratic procedures and the rule of law — appallingly instigated, in this case, by a sitting president of the United States. The presence of Confederate flags inside the Trump mob at the Capitol alongside the faux-patriotic “Don’t Tread on Me” regalia signaled a more exact connection across the decades, from defending slavery to upholding Jim Crow and the Lost Cause, to Trump’s embrace of — and MAGA’s friendliness toward — today’s neo-Confederates. One of the leading extremist organizers of the demonstration that led to the assault was a Facebook page called Red-State Secession.

Some questions in the immediate aftermath intrude on calculating the event’s long-term political significance. Plainly, a massive security failure allowed the mob to pounce and surge for as long as it did, a failure made truly grievous by how much authorities knew in advance of what the Trump mob descending on Washington had in mind. The causes of those failures, especially in light of the massive law-enforcement presence during the anti-racism protests in D.C. last spring and summer, need investigation, and those responsible — including any officials in the administration who wanted to aid and abet the rioters — need to be held to account.

Likewise, there ought to be official inquiries over how the day’s mayhem was put together. Although it was obvious that self-starting right-wing social media agitators had played a huge role, it remains open to question how self-starting some of those agitators actually were and are. Somebody arranged and paid for staging the media spectacle at the Washington Monument where the event got started, a view of the White House in the backdrop. That similar outbursts occurred in Utah and Georgia suggests at least the possibility of more coordinated planning and support. If any persons in the Oval Office beside the president, or otherwise close to Trump and his family, were involved in any way, they need to be exposed and punished.

But so, too, there needs to be a larger historical and political reckoning. The attack on Fort Sumter is supposed to have started when a veteran pro-slavery Fire-Eater, Edmund Ruffin, pulled the lanyard on the cannon that fired the first shot — but Ruffin and the other armed traitors amassed in Charleston harbor were hardly the most culpable figures, let alone the only ones. A long history lay behind the outrage of 1861, generated by disloyal pro-slavery pronouncements dating back decades, above all in the speeches and writings of John C. Calhoun. There is, to a historian, deep irony to some of the photographs taken during the Trumpist assault, especially one of a member of the mob brandishing a Confederate battle flag beneath a forbidding portrait of Calhoun in the entrance area of the Senate. Look closely enough and you can imagine the portrait, in its grim-faced way, smiling at the proceedings.

Clearly, as many commentators observed the morning after, the attack on the Capitol was the culmination of Trump’s four years of misrule. But Trump on his own had always been just a deranged, manipulative mogul and reality-TV fraud. The celebrity-smitten news media that abetted his perverse, shock-jock mystique — from big-city tabloids to the supposedly liberal-minded cable networks that aired his every rally, every antic — bear some responsibility. So does the current generation of cynical hard-right political stars who thought they could batten on to Trump’s mythic populist base, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley above all — their mouths dripping with sedition dressed up in fake history just as surely as the rioters they now ritualistically condemn.

But the attack on our democracy that culminated in the attack on the Capitol actually began many decades ago, at least as early as the mid-1960s, when so-called movement conservatives rallied first by William F. Buckley Jr., and then by a host of fake policy institutes and right-wing publicity organs, modernized the sputtering plutocratic reaction to the New Deal, merged it with the unvanquished white segregationist South, and, eventually, aggrieved right-wing evangelicals, forging what became known as the Ronald Reagan coalition. With the formerly ascendant Eastern moderate wing of the Republican Party either marginalized or forced to submit, the stage was set for the long-term radicalization of the GOP, hastened when Pat Buchanan attempted — and Newt Gingrich — succeeded in filling the vacuum on the right after Reagan left office.

Thence began a process of radicalization on the right which saw, at the fringes, a proliferation of right-wing militia groups and would-be instigators of race war that included Timothy McVeigh and his terrorist accomplices who blew up the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, including 19 children. Undeterred by the mayhem and death, successive cohorts of cynical Republican leaders thought that they could stoke what had begun as the Reagan base with ever-more radical culture-war rhetoric. By the time Barack Obama was president, what had long since ceased to be the Party of Lincoln had morphed into what the centrist political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, amid the Tea Party insurgency, called an “insurgent outlier” in our politics.

In the wake of Obama’s re-election in 2012, Republican leaders began reassessing their situation and proposed a redirection, in which they would mute the hard-right posturing — but what had become the core of the Republican electorate, frustrated by decades of empty promises about uprooting godless liberalism, was in no mood for the new-found responsibility of politicians they came to regard as Republican in Name Only (RINO). Enter Trump, who not only commandeered the inflamed base but enlarged it to include men and women unreachable by pollsters, angry minds who had given up on politics completely. With the connivance of supplicating Republicans caught off-guard by his ascendancy, pre-eminently Cruz and Lindsey Graham, Trump then molded a truly dangerous force, one that beheld Trump not simply as their president but as their George Washington (or maybe their Jefferson Davis), the father of their country. Unable to bully his way out of his defeat in November, a desperate Trump had nothing left to do but to unleash that force on the Capitol.

As discouraging, even horrifying, as this culmination has been, there are strong reasons to regard all that has happened since November 3rd not as the shaming of American democracy, but as its triumph and vindication. Election Day did bring an extraordinary display of democratic power, the largest numerical turnout in our history, despite a devastating pandemic, conducted responsibly and virtually without incident. Those who, in the wake of the assault on the Capitol, have described our country as a banana republic need to remind themselves of that display — a display so powerful that it caused Trump, his backup coup plans failing, to describe the election as a rigged disgrace, his ultimate act of psychological and political projection.

The vindication continued in the courts, which many leftists and liberals — myself included, I must confess — were convinced would collaborate in Trump stealing the election, shades of Bush v. Gore in 2000. In every instance, state and federal, in front of conservative as well as liberal judges, Trump attorneys’ cockamamie complaints met not simply with dismissal but with uncommon judicial derision. When the Supreme Court, complete with the three Trump justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, closed the door on a last-minute bid to overturn the election, followed three days later by the Electoral College fulfilling its duty, the vindication was near complete; with the admirable resistance by Georgia Republican election officials in the waning days of the process, it ended.

Rather than a defeat of democracy, the shameful, seditious, failed insurrection at the Capitol marked a desperate and doomed effort to break a system that held. Still, all of that said, we need also to remember how near a miss it was. More important, we need to remember that the system did not hold on its own or because of some providential dispensation but because uncounted numbers of Americans, from a few well-known jurists to masses of anonymous election workers, on all sides of the political spectrum, upheld the rule of democratic law. And as we look beyond these events to what comes next, it is essential to recognize that the threat, though scotched, has not been killed, and that nothing is accomplished without vigilant accountability.

Even before the mob descended, Washington was gripped by debates on how the new administration ought to handle the numerous glaring and grievous crimes of the outgoing one. There has been a good deal of talk about healing the soul of the nation, about reaching across the lines of division to combat the vicious polarization of the Trump years by promoting reconciliation. Rather than further provoke discord and disorder, better simply to let Trump fade away in ignominy while appealing to the better angels of our nature, including the better angels of the many millions of MAGA supporters.

The impulse is understandable but the danger is incalculable, as the attack on the Capitol made crystal clear. For one thing, Trump, even in his derangement, has shown he has no intention of fading away, and it would be unwise to bet that he won’t find some means to sustain himself as a kind of president-in-exile. Far more important, though, is the matter of accountability, the sanctity of the Constitution, and the nature of the enemy within that we saw scaling the walls and invading the halls of the House and Senate.

Beginning with the outrageous multiple obstructions of justice outlined in the Mueller Report, Trump as president engaged in crimes against the nation, overt and covert, beyond anything dared by any previous president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon included. His directing of the mob to march on the Capitol to help disrupt the final certification of his defeat was the clearest conceivable attack on the Constitution that any elected official could undertake. Those crimes would only be compounded if, as has been widely rumored, the president attempts to engineer a plainly unconstitutional self-pardon for all of his offenses.

To permit these crimes and others to go unprosecuted would amount to a kind of complicity in them. There can be no healing of the nation’s soul if the Constitution is left mocked and damaged, for in the final analysis, the Constitution is the nation. There comes a time when generosity and appeals to reconciliation turn into the kind of appeasement that invites further aggression. The attack on the Capitol, whipped up and then celebrated by the president, has dramatized as powerfully as is imaginable that the time for appeasement is over.

Among the many stories that got buried amid the mayhem was President-elect Biden’s announcement that he plans to appoint Judge Merrick Garland as his Attorney General. That appointment is a signal of where the incoming president stands regarding the prosecution of Trump and his accomplices. Garland is, of course, remembered as the person Obama named to the Supreme Court only to be throttled by the supremely cynical then-Majority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell. He is also regarded as a judicial centrist, which may suggest that he would be less than zealous in pursuit of ex-President Trump, lest doing so would further inflame our politics. Less well-remembered is that Judge Garland, then a top official at the Justice Department, oversaw the successful prosecution of Timothy McVeigh in 1996 and 1997.

More than virtually any other high official in public service, Attorney General-designate Garland is closely acquainted with the poison that has built up in our body politic over the past 50 years, the poison that made Trump’s presidency possible and which Trump has come to command — the poison that was on display when the Capitol temporarily fell prey to the mob. If Trump is left unprosecuted, let alone unpunished, for his crimes — not for his bad behavior or his boorishness or even his demagoguery, but for his multiple violations of federal law — that poison, too, will remain unchecked, ripe for exploitation by future would-be Trumps. The failure after the Civil War to hold the secessionists fully accountable for their treason helped pave the way for the overthrow of Reconstruction and the installation of Jim Crow. Just as the harrowing scenes at the Capitol are a distant historical reminder of Fort Sumter, so they affirm the extent of the damage Trump and his confederates have done to our country. That damage demands their prosecution.

January 7, 2021

January 6: Domestic Terrorists’ Attempted Coup – ‘ A Day in Infamy’

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 12:22 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Today was the most horrific day for the United States since 9/11/01 when 3,000 people were killed by foreign terrorists. Thus far, only one person was directly killed in a domestic insurgency by white supremacists, and three other people died in the vicinity. Yet thousands of domestic terrorists attacked the U.S. Capitol, climbing walls, smashing windows, and crawling into the building to violently destroy the workings of Congress as it proceeded to complete the 2020 election under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution.

Worse than this insurrection that attempts to keep the current occupant of the Oval Office in the White House, he and 153 GOP members of Congress—a majority of Republicans elected to Congress—abetted the violent attack on the nation’s capitol for the first time in 206 years by the British during the War of 1812. Thugs paraded throughout the U.S. Capitol and waved the Confederate flag instead of the flag of the United States. Congressional members who couldn’t be safely removed from the building hid under desks and behind barricaded doors, terrified for their lives.

Many hours of unbelievable scenes from Washington, D.C. show a police force failing to stop white supremacists take over the chambers of Congress and the offices of congressional members, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). One elected representative in the U.S. House reported she had called her husband last night last night to tell him where to find her will if she didn’t survive today.

Last summer, Washington police came out in full riot gear against Black Lives Matter, and federal agents physically attacked protesters in Portland (OR) for attempting to set fires outside a federal courthouse. On the steps of the Capitol over two years ago, police arrested 300 people peacefully protesting the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one of them soon to be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

Today, police in Washington opened the gates to let in the insurgents and made few arrests of people who blocked congressional procedures by physically threatening congressional members and driving them out of the Capitol. Inside the building, police took selfies with terrorists; outside, the police passively looked at the people who had committed criminal acts at the Capitol. 

The insurrection could not have come as a surprise. Between January 1 and January 4, QAnon supporters made at least 1,250 posts calling for violence on January 6, which they called “Independence Day,” claiming “politicians…raping and killing children…won’t be able to walk down the street.” Dictator Donald Trump has repeatedly supported QAnon tweets. Instead of blocking the insurrection, he told the insurgents that they should go home but he “loved them” and found them “very special.” He still sits in the White House after his rhetoric caused the insurgency although social media has blocked the video inciting violence.

Dictator Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been blocked for 12 hours because of “severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy” with the threat of permanent suspension for more violations. Twitter adviser Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia, tweeted, “He has deliberately incited violence, causing mayhem with his lies and threats.” Dictator Donald Trump, who also bragged about being for “law and order,” had tweeted:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

At the inauguration almost exactly four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump excoriated the “American carnage.” His term is ending with the “carnage” he predicted—the legacy for the man labeled the worst president in U.S. history.

As the constitution mandates, the two chambers of Congress returned hours later to debate the GOP to overturn the legal election for Joe Biden on what may have become the worst day in U.S. democracy during more than a century. The challenge to Arizona votes was voted down in the Senate with only six votes because seven of the original 13 had dropped out. Those six Republicans are Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde Smith (MS), John Kennedy (LA.), Roger Marshall (KS), and newly-elected Tommy Tuberville (AL). In the House, 121 Republicans voted to overturn the election; 303 representatives turned down the challenge.

Using the disaster for fundraising, Hawley, thrusting his fist in the air, continued to lead the election overturn attempt which forces more long hours for debate in the Senate and House. After midnight in the early hours of January 7, he supported the challenge to Pennsylvania, skipping over the intended Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada; he could also object to votes from Wisconsin. With little discussion, the Senate voted, losing Kennedy and picking up Cynthia Lummis (WY) and Rick Scott (FL) to overturn the election in Pennsylvania. The House took much longer with much posturing from the overturners and a final vote of at least 138-282. All overturners are Republicans.

When Congress completes its task and confirms the Electoral College vote, they go home, returning on January 19. The “dear leader” remains to further destroy the United States within his next 14 days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20. And insurgents may return, as they threaten, with “muskets.”

During the insurrection against the U.S. government on January 6, the daily number of COVID-19 deaths hit a new high of 4,100.

 

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