Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

Timothy McVeigh’s “defense” and Donald Trump’s Unhinged Letter to Merrick Garland

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Teri Kanefield’s posts are always interesting. The latest begins:

I.  The Rise of American Right-Wing Extremism From Timothy McVeigh to Stewart Rhodes

I’m a political prisoner,” Oath Keeper and January 6 insurrectionist Stewart Rhodes said during his sentencing hearing, “and like President Trump, my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country.” Rhodes vowed to continue to “expose the criminality of the regime” in prison.

He was then sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy with an upward departure for terrorism under the sentencing guidelines.

(Why this is a big deal: Rhodes never entered the Capitol building so the DOJ has now reached the planners and instigators. For more on that, see this post. This was also the first time the judge allowed an upward enhancement for terrorism for an insurrectionist.)

Timothy McVeigh said something similar about his attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. He said his attack “was a direct response to the abuses and usurpations of the federal government, particularly those at Ruby Ridge and Waco.” (Homegrown, p. 4) . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2023 at 8:33 pm

The Corruption of Lindsey Graham: A case study in the rise of authoritarianism.

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In Bulwark William Saletan has a very interesting series of articles (link is to the first article in the series) on how the US Republican party gradually converted itself into an authoritarian party. Lindsey Graham is used as the model. From that first article at the link:

I’m not interested in what’s distinctive about Graham. I’m interested in what isn’t. How does his story illuminate what happened to the whole Republican party? How did the poison work?

We need to answer these questions because the authoritarian threat is bigger than one man. Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency destroyed the myth that the United States was immune to despotism. Our institutions and the people who run them are vulnerable. We have to confront these vulnerabilities and learn how to deal with them before our democracy is threatened again.

So why focus on Graham?

First, because he was a central player in the Republican party’s capitulation to Trump. And second, because he talked constantly. He produced an enormous trove of interviews, speeches, press briefings, and social media posts. Through these records, we can see how he changed, week to week and month to month. We can watch the poison work.

It’s a slow death. The surrender to despotism doesn’t happen all at once. It advances in stages: a step, a rationalization. Another step, another rationalization. The deeper you go, the more you need to justify. You say what you need to say. You believe what you need to believe.

So let’s go back to the beginning. Let’s see who Lindsey Graham was before he drank the poison. . .

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2023 at 1:56 pm

What’s Behind the GOP’s War Against Democracy?

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Thom Hartmann writes in The Hartmann Report:

Louise and I just finished watching the Netflix short series Transatlantic, and it prompted us to consider what happens when a rightwing social movement takes over a country, as we’re currently experiencing in the US with more than a third of our states openly embracing fascism.

Transatlantic is a gripping drama about a group of Jewish refugees — including Hannah Arendt and Marc Chagall — who are trapped in Marseilles trying to flee the Nazis as they sweep across France in late 1940. Complicating their flight, the American envoy and the head of the local French police are both in agreement with the Nazis that the Jewish refugees are “degenerates” and “animals” who should appropriately end up in the Nazi camps.

The parallels to today’s America are startling. The Republican rhetoric about the queer and Black communities — and, often, about Jews (usually coded as “George Soros”) — is startlingly similar to that of the Nazis and the Vichy French about Jews. Donald Trump, for example, is openly calling Alvin Bragg an “animal.”

But how do things get this far? How and why did it happen in Germany, and how and why is it happening here today?

After Hitler’s failed beer hall putsch, he was legally banned from public speaking and mass rallies. In 1930, however, German media mogul Alfred Hugenberg — a rightwinger who owned two of the largest national newspapers and had considerable influence over radio — joined forces with Hitler and relentlessly promoted him, much like the Murdoch media empire and billionaire-owned rightwing radio helped bring Trump to power in 2016.

While politically independent, German President Paul von Hindenburg’s sympathies lay with the conservatives and monarchists. Like Reagan’s GOP, Hindenburg’s coalition favored Germany’s morbidly rich (Hindenburg’s father was an aristocrat) and industry, but was always just short of achieving total power over the German state.

Hitler, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care much at first about Germany’s aristocrats; he led a populist evangelical movement dedicated to “purifying” Germany of the “filth” of Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, and socialists. While Hindenburg and the German conservative movement looked down on Hitler and his followers as ignoble rabble rousers, they were more than enthusiastic about getting their votes.

As German industrialist Fritz Thyssen writes in his apologetic book I Paid Hitler, he pressured German President von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, and then lobbied the Association of German Industrialists, that country’s and era’s version of the US Chamber of Commerce, to donate 3 million Reichsmarks to the Nazi Party for the 1932 election.

While Thyssen did it primarily because he wanted tax cuts for morbidly rich people like himself and government contracts for his company, his efforts combined with Hugenberg’s media empire brought Hitler and his bigots to power.

Hitler’s sales pitch to the German people was grounded in the idea that average German working people were victims and Hitler was their champion.

He claimed Jews, homosexuals, and socialists had “stabbed Germany in the back” by participating in negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles that imposed punitive conditions on the country, producing widespread poverty and an economic crisis.

If the German people were victims, Hitler told them, the villains were German minorities, promoting degeneracy like jazz and swing music, tolerance of homosexuality and transgender people, and the “international Jewish conspiracy.”

Once the Nazis took power they banned books, outlawed drag shows and homosexuality, changed school curricula to remove mention of their atrocities in WWI, and rewrote election laws so they’d never again lose an election.

The transformation of Germany was swift. Former German Nazis I knew well in the 1980s when I lived in that country often commented to me on how “a party of bullies” threatened violence and intimidated people to the point that the average person gave up resisting or even joined along for fear of ending up a victim themselves.

Thus, a minority party that never took more than a third of the national vote before seizing power began  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2023 at 9:30 am

Political “polarization” isn’t the real problem in America: One pole is a lot worse than the other

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Paul Rosenberg writes in Salon:

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the idea that American political life was dangerously polarized was controversial, and often vehemently denied. In 2004, Morris Fiorina and his co-authors published “Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America,” which argued that the electorate hadn’t fundamentally changed much since 1964, when Philip Converse argued that the vast majority of voters were “innocent of ‘ideology.'” Some scholars pushed back against this centrist, denialist consensus, but Fiorina’s book ran through a third edition in 2010 — the year of the Tea Party wave election.

Today things look quite different — at least on the surface. Polarization research has exploded, exploring many different dimensions — social, ideological, affective — all resting on the premise that polarization is a big problem, if not the central problem, in American politics today. But this research too often tacitly yearns for a lost golden age of greater consensus, an age that was never golden for those effectively excluded: most women, people of color, LGBTQ folks and so on.

This unspoken anti-political and even anti-democratic bias is addressed in a new paper from Daniel Kreiss and Shannon McGregor, both at the University of North Carolina. They argue that the focus on polarization as such, while ignoring the actual content of politics that produces polarization, is fundamentally mistaken: “As a concept, polarization does not provide a normative or even conceptual way of distinguishing between White supremacists and racial justice activists, despite their asymmetrical relationship to liberal democracy.”

This paper was written for other scholars in political science and communications, not for the general public, but its implications are profound, particularly as the 2024 election begins to shape up as a 2020 rerun. Repeating that exercise strikes almost everyone as exhausting and frustrating. But repeating it with a full awareness of the stakes, liberated from the supposedly even-handed frame of polarization, could instead be liberating. “Groundhog Day” had a happy ending, after all. Hoping to bring this argument to a wider audience, I reached out to Daniel Kreiss for a lengthy conversation. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Your paper, “A review and provocation: On polarization and platforms,” argues that the “analysis and normative conclusions of much polarization research … are wrong.” You launch that argument by giving a brief history of the Black Lives Matter. Why is it wrong, and how does Black Lives Matter fit in? 

Starting out at the broadest level, what Shannon and I argue is that too many scholars in fields like political science and communication focus on polarization as being the foremost democratic concern, whereas in the context of movements of our own time, like Black Lives Matter, polarization is actually the byproduct of various groups struggling for political and social equality. So polarization itself might not necessarily be bad. Put it into a broader framework of understanding relations between various groups: Who gets to exercise citizenship, who gets to exercise their basic right to life. When we have groups that are protesting for equality and threatening dominant institutions such as the police, the concern should be that we have groups that are deeply unequal, but not necessarily that those groups pushing for equality cause polarization or cause other people to backlash against them.

In the abstract you argue that “polarization can only be seen as a central threat to democracy if inequality is ignored,” and in the paper itself you note that scholars’ conceptions of polarization “have overwhelmingly focused on its harmful democratic effects.” So what are they missing in terms of more positive effects, and what are the consequences?

Let’s take an example of the civil rights movement. You had a post-World War II consensus between the two main parties, in essence a white-dominated consensus that the civil rights movement had to work against in the push to dismantle the Jim Crow South and various other racist structures that existed across the country. Polarization researchers — if we take the analogy to the work being done today — would say, “We’re all so polarized because these groups are threatening an existing social order.” Polarization, by considering only the distance between groups on various ideological or affective measures, would say the real concern is that we’re so fractured with so many different ideas about the way the country should live, about whether Black people should have equality, etc.

But looked at through the lens of the civil rights movement, clearly the movement for political and social and civil equality was the movement in line with democracy. You can see this on any of a number of dimensions, whether it’s trans equality or LGBTQ equality more broadly, the push for Black equality, women’s rights, etc. The concern, I think, shouldn’t be “Oh! People are so far apart!” when it comes to whether we should accept certain people as citizens of whether we should diversify the economy. The concern should be that there are vastly unequal structures, and various groups that are looking to achieve political and social equality.

As I read your article I was reminded of . . .

Continue reading.


But that also means taking a stance. And I think a lot of journalists and a lot of social scientists, a lot of people in public life feel very uncomfortable with that. We can’t call out guns, but we can call out polarization. But from my point of view, the problem is guns. The problem is anti-trans laws. The problem is white supremacy. Those are the issues that I think we should focus on, and be clear-eyed about. Polarization becomes a way to talk about politics without talking about politics at all, without actually getting at the underlying issues. We all just need to be much sharper in our analysis and much clearer in our commitments when we talk about these issues, without the lazy way out of relying on polarization speak.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2023 at 11:03 am

A Michigan county shows how democracy can falter

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Greg Jaffe and Patrick Morley report in the Washington Post (no paywall):

The eight new members of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners had run for office promising to “thwart tyranny” in their lakeside Michigan community of 300,000 people.

In this case the oppressive force they aimed to thwart was the county government they now ran. It was early January, their first day in charge. An American flag held down a spot at the front of the board’s windowless meeting room. Sea-foam green carpet covered the floor.

The new commissioners, all Republicans, swore their oaths of office on family Bibles. And then the firings began. Gone was the lawyer who had represented Ottawa County for 40 years. Gone was the county administrator who oversaw a staff of 1,800. To run the health department, they voted to install a service manager from a local HVAC company who had gained prominence as a critic of mask mandates.

As the session entered its fourth hour, Sylvia Rhodea, the board’s new vice chair, put forward a motion to change the motto that sat atop the county’s website and graced its official stationery. “Whereas the vision statement of ‘Where You Belong’ has been used to promote the divisive Marxist ideology of the race, equity movement,” Rhodea said.

And so began a new era for Ottawa County. Across America, county governments provided services so essential that they were often an afterthought. Their employees paved roads, built parks, collected taxes and maintained property records. In an era when Americans had never seemed more divided and distrustful, county governments, at their best, helped define what remains of the common good.

Ottawa County stood out for a different reason. It was becoming a case study in what happens when one of the building blocks of American democracy is consumed by ideological battles over race, religion and American history.

Rhodea’s resolution continued on for 20 “whereases,” connecting the current motto to a broader effort that she said aimed to “divide people by race,” reduce their “personal agency,” and teach them to “hate America and doubt the goodness of her people.”

Her proposed alternative, she said, sought to unite county residents around America’s “true history” as a “land of systemic opportunity built on the Constitution, Christianity and capitalism.’”

She flipped to her resolution’s final page and leaned closer to the mic. “Now, therefore, let it be resolved that the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners establishes a new county vision statement and motto of ‘Where Freedom Rings.’”

The commission’s lone Democrat gazed out in disbelief. A few seats away, the commission’s new chair savored the moment. “There’s just some really beautiful language in this,” he said, before calling for a vote on the resolution. It passed easily.

A cheer went up in the room, which on this morning was about three-fourths full, but in the coming weeks it would be packed with so many angry people calling each other “fascists,” “communists,” “Christian nationalists” and “racists” that the county would have to open an overflow room down the hall.

The new slogan was largely the brainchild of Joe Moss, the 37-year-old new chair of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners and a newcomer to politics. Moss and his fellow commissioners oversaw a thriving county with a budget of $230 million. On a wall at the front of the meeting room where he now presided were 16 framed photographs of earlier boards, made up almost entirely of White, pro-business Republicans in jackets and ties.

Many of those commissioners traced their roots back to the county’s early Dutch settlers from whom they inherited a Calvinist appreciation for thrift and moderation. They rarely spent more than a few hundred dollars on election campaigns and took pride in the county’s AAA bond rating, fiscal discipline and low taxes.

Under their leadership, Ottawa County prospered. It had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Michigan and, since 2010, has been the fastest growing county in the state. Board meetings were civil, orderly and, until recently, sparsely attended. “We were rolling along good,” said Greg DeJong, a Republican who spent 12 years on the board before he was unseated. “No one came to our meetings before covid.”

Moss inhabited a different world than his predecessors. Like so many rising leaders in today’s Republican Party, his view  . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

22 April 2023 at 11:01 am

Trump touts authoritarian vision for second term: ‘I am your justice, your retribution’

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The US is becoming a frightening place and the longing of many to establish a dictatorship comes out into the open. Isaac Arnsdorf and Jeff Stein report in the Washington Post (gift link, no paywall):

Mandatory stop-and-frisk. Deploying the military to fight street crime, break up gangs and deport immigrants. Purging the federal workforce and charging leakers.

Former president Donald Trump has steadily begun outlining his vision for a second-term agenda, focusing on unfinished business from his time in the White House and an expansive vision for how he would wield federal power. In online videos and stump speeches, Trump is pledging to pick up where his first term left off and push even further.

Where he earlier changed border policies to reduce refugees and people seeking asylum, he’s now promising to conduct an unprecedented deportation operation. Where he previously moved to make it easier to fire federal workers, he’s now proposing a new civil service exam. After urging state and local officials to take harsher measures on crime and homelessness, Trump says he is now determined to take more direct federal action.

“In 2016, I declared I am your voice,” Trump said in a speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference and repeated at his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco a few weeks later. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

Trump’s emerging platform marks a sharp departure from traditional conservative orthodoxy emphasizing small government, which was famously summed up in Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Trump, by contrast, is proposing to apply government power, centralized under his authority, toward a vast range of issues that have long remained outside the scope of federal control.

Experts called some of Trump’s ideas impractical, reckless, self-defeating, potentially illegal and even dangerous. Some of Trump’s specific proposals are admittedly underdeveloped, such as a plan for building futuristic cities from scratch on unused federal land, which has been compared to projects in repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

But Trump has a track record of floating ideas that stoke widespread outrage or confusion, then roiling government and legal institutions to realize them, such as banning citizens of several majority-Muslim countries from coming to the United States and imposing trade barriers. Trump is currently facing federal and local criminal investigations arising from his unsuccessful efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, which ultimately inspired a deadly riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

“As with so many things Trump, it’ll be sticky to sort out where what he’s proposing is literally unlawful, which some things would be, and where what he’s proposing would fly in the face of well-established and deeply principled norms,” said Steve Vladeck, an expert on constitutional and national security law at the University of Texas at Austin.

Trump campaign advisers said the former president will continue rolling out new policy ideas, with the goal of being upfront with voters about his agenda and letting them vote based on policy, similar to how he released a list of his potential Supreme Court nominees during the 2016 campaign. They identified Trump’s top priority as public safety and law enforcement, while stressing a commitment to collaborating with state authorities and working within the law.

“Together, we are going to finish what we started,” Trump said at the Waco rally last month. “With you at my side, we will totally obliterate the deep state, we will banish the warmongers from our government, we will drive out the globalists, and we will cast out the communists and Marxists, we will throw off the corrupt political class, we will beat the Democrats, we will rout the fake news media, we will stand up to the RINOs, and we will defeat Joe Biden and every single Democrat.”

Supporters have cheered Trump’s continued turn away from longtime conservative orthodoxy, such as free trade and foreign interventions, and credited him for ushering in larger shift in the party. In articulating a vision of a more coercive right-wing government, Trump is finding . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

There’s quite a bit more, and the outlook is grim enough that I think people should be working out the details of their plan B in the event the US moves strongly in the direction of a vengeful authoritarian government.

See next post.

Written by Leisureguy

22 April 2023 at 10:54 am

The story behind the Dominion-Fox settlement

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In the Washington Post, Sarah Ellison, Josh Dawsey, and Rosalind S. Helderman report:

For months, as the pretrial proceedings wore on and the embarrassing internal messages kept spilling into public view, executives at Fox News slowly resigned themselves to a miserable slog of a trial followed by a possible loss before a jury in the blockbuster $1.6 billion lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems.

Viet Dinh, the highest-ranking legal officer at Fox News’s parent company, Fox Corp., had offered a glimmer of hope. He had walked company founder and chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who is Fox’s chief executive, through the legal issues and reassured them that the company could eventually prevail on appeal, even if it required going all the way to the Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential conversations.

But at the close of Friday’s hearing in the blockbuster defamation case against Fox News, Judge Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court asked the lawyers for both companies to try to work out their differences. Trial was set to begin Monday, and he implored them to see if they could find common ground.

The two sides obliged, and lawyers spent the weekend attempting to hammer out a deal without getting far. The space between them was still vast. Running out of time, they sent an emergency email Sunday morning to longtime mediator Jerry Roscoe, who was floating down the Danube River. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2023 at 3:46 pm

A *superb* explanation of the severity of the settlement

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Watch this brief video. It is extremely helpful.

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2023 at 8:22 am

Popularity is optional as Republicans find ways to impose minority rule

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And as a follow-up to the previous post, take a look at David Smith’s column in the Guardian, which begins:

“We called for you all to ban assault weapons, and you respond with an assault on democracy.” These were the words of Justin Jones, a Black Democrat, to Tennessee Republicans after he and a colleague, Justin Pearson, were expelled for leading a gun protest on the state house of representatives floor.

A week later, Jones and Pearson were reinstated amid applause, whoops and cheers at the state capitol in Nashville. But few believe that the assault on democracy is at an end. What happened in Tennessee is seen as indicative of a Donald Trump-led Republican party ready to push its extremist agenda by any means necessary.

Opinion poll after opinion poll shows that Republicans are increasingly out of touch with mainstream sentiment on hot button issues such as abortion rights and gun safety. Accordingly, the party has suffered disappointment in elections in 2018, 2020 and 2022. Yet instead of rethinking its positions, critics say, it is turning to rightwing judges and state legislators to enforce minority rule.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “The ballot box didn’t work – the voice of the people said, we’re not going to tolerate these kind of threats by Republicans. But Republicans are using other tools and shredding the fabric of American democracyIt’s a kind of minority authoritarianism.”

Despite extraordinary pressures, democracy has proved resilient in recent years. It survived an insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Joe Biden was sworn in as the duly elected president and declared in his inaugural address: “Democracy has prevailed.” And election deniers were routed in last year’s midterms.

But while Democrats control the White House and Senate, Republicans have proved expert at finding workarounds, using cogs in the machine that have typically received less attention from activists, journalists and voters. One of them is the judiciary.

The supreme court, which includes three justices appointed during Trump’s single term, last year overturned the Roe v Wade ruling that had enshrined the right to abortion for nearly half a century, despite opinion polls showing a majority wanted to protect it.

Lower courts have also flexed their muscles. Matthew Kacsmaryk, a judge nominated by Trump in Amarillo, Texas, has ruled against the Joe Biden administration on issues including immigration and LGBTQ+ protections. Earlier this month he blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, the most common abortion method in America.

A legal battle ensued with the justice department pledging to take its appeal all the way to the supreme court. The political backlash was also swift.

Mini Timmaraju, the president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2023 at 8:22 am

A Firehose of Insanity and The Republican Cycle of Radicalization

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Terry Kanefield has a really excellent explainer about what is driving the Republican party. It begins:

There was an explosion of news this week with a theme: The increasing radicalization of the Republican Party.

First, we have the abortion pill mifepristone debacle in which a federal judge in Texas attempted to outlaw mifepristone for the entire nation. Here’s the timeline (I find that a bullet point timeline is the best tool for understanding a complex legal situation):

Bottom line: As a practical matter, a federal judge doesn’t have the authority to intervene in the workings of the FDA and substitute his judgment for the judgment of the FDA. As Steve Vladeck pointed out, the case has other procedural problems such as standing (do the plaintiffs have the right to bring this lawsuit) and statute of limitations.

From my mail this week: “Teri, I would love to see a post on your views of how SCOTUS will rule.”

Because we have a few completely unhinged justices, it’s hard to say for sure, but I can’t see the Supreme Court twisting itself into knots to keep mifepristone off the market, which would involve overlooking standing and statute of limitations issues and allowing federal courts to usurp the role of the executive branch.

Also, even though the underlying issue here is different from the issue presented in Roe v. Wade, the Court overturned Roe partly on the grounds that federal courts shouldn’t be making those decisions. For federal courts to intervene now on thin pretense and make a ruling on abortion access would obviously smell of rank hypocrisy. A normal court would not consider agreeing with Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, but we have an increasingly radicalized Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court does such a thing, the backlash against the Court (and Republicans) will be fierce.

More news:

We are essentially being hit with a firehose of insanity. I could spend a full blog post on any one of the above, but I think it’s better to back up and take a bird’s eye view to ask how has the Republican Party became so unhinged and radicalized.

The Republican Cycle of Radicalization

While the title of Let Them Eat Tweets by Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, and Berkeley political scientist Paul Pierson feels a bit dated, the book succinctly explains what we might call the Republican cycle of radicalization whereby the party leaders are locked into accepting increasingly extreme and unhinged positions.

The authors begin with what Harvard Prof. Daniel Ziblatt calls the “Conservative dilemma,” which goes like this:

• Conservatives represent the interests of a few wealthy people.
• Their economic policies are unpopular.
• So when more people are allowed to vote, conservatives have a problem.

Plutocracy is incompatible with democracy for two reasons: (1) most people will not knowingly vote to keep a plutocrat in power when that plutocrat is essentially robbing them, so plutocrats have trouble winning elections the normal way, by putting forward their policies and plans. (2) As more money becomes concentrated in the hands of a few people, power, too, becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people.

Plutocracy is not new in the United States. Slavery, after all, was a plutocracy, as was the era of robber barons. (Heather Cox Richardson in her book To Make Men Free refers to these as our first two oligarchies. We are now heading toward a third.) The Civil War got us out of the first oligarchy. Roosevelt’s New Deal got us out of the second.)

To win elections with unpopular economic positions, plutocrats can either: . . .

Continue reading. But do read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2023 at 7:54 am

GOP wages an asymmetrical war on democracy because it can’t get the votes

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Will Bunch writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

It was the highlight reel of what should have been a banner week for American democracy — scores of down vest-wearing, smartphone-gazing students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in a line that snaked around every corner of a campus building as they waited to cast a ballot for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

When the votes were tallied at the end of the night, some 883 people had cast ballots at the campus polling place — more than any other precinct in Eau Claire, and nearly six times as many as voted there in a similar election four years earlier. And 87% of the students had voted for Democrat Janet Protasiewicz — perhaps a rejection of her Republican opponent Dan Kelly’s lifelong opposition to abortion and his work trying to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

The surge in young-voter turnout was a key reason why Protasiewicz won a landslide, 11-point victory in a key swing state that Biden had only won by just over 20,000 votes three years earlier. Overall, the turnout for a race to decide the balance of power on the Badger State’s highest court set a record for a nonpresidential year, but the GOP’s Kelly wasn’t hearing the chimes of freedom. He all but called the Democrat’s victory illegitimate.

“I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” Kelly told his supporters on election night. “But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.” He claimed without evidence that Protasiewicz is “a serial liar” and that the Democrat who defeated him doesn’t believe in the rule of law but “the rule of Janet.”

It would be easy to dismiss Kelly’s election denial as unusually sour grapes, except that some lawmakers in the GOP majority in the Wisconsin legislature are — and this is hard to believe — already talking about impeaching Protasiewicz even before she takes the oath of office. A new state senator who won a special election to give Republicans a supermajority in Madison said he’d “seriously consider” impeaching the new justice, citing the flimsy pretext of her record as a circuit judge in “failing” Milwaukee. . .

Continue reading.

And also note that Gov. Greg Abbot (R-TX) has promised to pardon a man who murdered a BLM protester.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2023 at 12:01 pm

Media coverage of Trump indictment should stick to the (highly incriminating) facts

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Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch:

There appears to be ample evidence that Donald Trump violated a number of state laws when he told attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to a porn star days before the 2016 election, then wrote the expense off as “legal fees”.

We also know that Trump was “Individual-1,” the unindicted co-conspirator in the successful federal criminal prosecution of Cohen for violating campaign finance laws. Ample documentation proved that “Individual-1” directed Cohen to make the illegal payments.

Trump’s protestations of a “witch hunt” and his at times racist attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg do not constitute a defense, and are immaterial to the central issue of Trump’s criminality.

So what is his defense? Trump’s attorneys don’t contest that he had Cohen pay off the porn star, Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet. They don’t contest that Trump reimbursed Cohen by paying him for “legal services.”

His actual “defense” appears to be primarily that he would have paid off Daniels regardless of his political campaign, simply to avoid embarrassment, so it was all just a personal matter.

That’s a laughable defense.

So those are the facts of the case: the evidence of a crime and the defense.

But the facts of the case has not been the focus of the coverage by the elite corporate media. Its coverage is seemingly about everything else, most monotonously an endless litany of articles about imagined legal hurdles and the “political firestorm” surrounding the case.

It’s certainly true that Trump could get off due to a legal technicality. But the coverage of that one factor is disproportionate and only feeds into the false but dominant media narrative that this is a tough decision for the prosecutor that should be made with a view toward the political implications.

That is a toxic view that makes a mockery of the rule of law.

As Protect Democracy’s Aaron Baird recently wrote to me in an email, the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:39 am

Republican “reality” leads to a dictatorship

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Heather Cox Richardson:

Rumors that he is about to be indicted in New York in connection with the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels have prompted former president Donald Trump to pepper his alternative social media site with requests for money and to double down on the idea that any attack on him is an attack on the United States.

The picture of America in his posts reflects the extreme version of the virtual reality the Republicans have created since the 1980s. The United States is “THIRD WORLD & DYING,” he wrote. “THE AMERICAN DREAM IS DEAD.” He went on to describe a country held captive by “CRIMINALS & LEFTIST THUGS,” in which immigrants are “FLOODING THROUGH OUR OPEN BOARDERS [sic], MANY FROM PRISONS & MENTAL INSTITUTIONS,” and where the president is “SURROUNDED BY EVIL & SINISTER PEOPLE.” He told his supporters to “SAVE AMERICA” by protesting the arrest he—but no one else—says is coming on Tuesday.

Trump’s false and dystopian portrait of the nation takes to its logical conclusion the narrative Republicans have pushed since the 1980s. Since the days of Reagan, Republicans have argued that people who believe that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, protect civil rights, and promote infrastructure are destroying the country by trying to redistribute wealth from hardworking white Americans to undeserving minorities and women. Now Trump has taken that argument to its logical conclusion: the country has been destroyed by women, Black Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color, who have taken it over and are persecuting people like him.

This old Republican narrative created a false image of the nation and of its politics, an image pushed to a generation of Americans by right-wing media, a vision that MAGA Republicans have now absorbed as part of their identity. It reflects a manipulation of politics that Russian political theorists called “political technology.”

Russian “political technologists” developed a series of techniques to pervert democracy by creating a virtual political reality through modern media. They blackmailed opponents, abused state power to help favored candidates, sponsored “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to split their voters and thus open the way for their own candidates, created false parties to create opposition, and, finally, created a false narrative around an election or other event that enabled them to control public debate.

Essentially, they perverted democracy, turning it from the concept of voters choosing their leaders into the concept of voters rubber-stamping the leaders they had been manipulated into backing.

This system made sense in former Soviet republics, where it enabled leaders to avoid the censorship that voters would recoil from by instead creating a firehose of news until people became overwhelmed by the task of trying to figure out what was real and simply tuned out.

But it also fit nicely into American politics, where there is a . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

18 March 2023 at 9:11 pm

Trump Lawyer Tacopina Says Trump Didn’t ‘Lie’ About Stormy Daniels Payment, He Just Said Stuff That Wasn’t ‘True’

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“A distinction without a difference” is the phrase that springs to mind. Liz Dye reports in Above the Law:

On Monday, Donald Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina went on Good Morning America to explain that his client, a man who was notorious for his infidelities even before he got caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the genitals, did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Stormy Daniels. In fact, he went so far as to say that Trump had been a “victim of extortion,” paying the porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about a sexual encounter that never happened to avoid embarrassing his family.

It was merely a coincidence of timing that Trump tried to bury Daniels’s story of their 2006 encounter — and at least two other stories as well — just months before the 2016 election. And thus, the lawyer insisted, the hush money payment cannot be seen as an excessive, undisclosed contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign.

The problem with that theory, aside from being fundamentally ridiculous, is that there are a whole bunch of witnesses who can testify otherwise, including: former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and editor Dylan Howard, who conspired with Trump and his campaign to “catch and kill” embarrassing stories; Stormy Daniels’s first lawyer, Keith Davidson, who negotiated the hush money agreement; Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the deal, as well as several other illegal tax schemes; and Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who discussed the payment scheme with Cohen at least once. And every one of those people has testified to the grand jury impaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to investigate the payment.

Donald Trump has not testified, although he was invited to do so. But, as the Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery points out, Trump was not given the automatic grant of immunity provided to grand jury witnesses, indicating both that he is the target of the investigation, and that this process is speeding toward its inevitable close.

There are lots of reasons to be skeptical that an indictment will be forthcoming here, not least of which is that . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2023 at 3:09 pm

Not so much low-information voters as anti-information voters

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Written by Leisureguy

10 March 2023 at 12:03 pm

Big media is covering up Trump’s terrifying incoherence in a time of emergency

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Dan Froomkin writes in Press Watch:

Here is some of what Donald Trump had to say Wednesday evening at a briefing intended to inform and reassure the American public about a public-health emergency:

This will end. This will end. You look at flu season. I said 26,000 people. I never heard of a number like that: 26,000 people, going up to 69,000 people, doctor, you told me before. 69,000 people die every year — from 20 to 69 — every year from the flu. Think of that. That’s incredible. So far, the results of all of this that everybody is reading about — and part of the thing is, you want to keep it the way it is, you don’t want to see panic, because there’s no reason to be panicked about it — but when I mentioned the flu, I asked the various doctors, “Is this just like flu?” Because people die from the flu. And this is very unusual. And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher, but we have it so well under control, I mean, we really have done a very good job. [Watch video.]

Before and after knowledgeable public-health officials had made clear that a further spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable:

I don’t think it’s inevitable. It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared. We have the best people in the world. You see that from the study. We have the best prepared people, the best people in the world. Congress is willing to give us much more than we’re even asking for. That’s nice for a change. But we are totally ready, willing, and able to — it’s a term that we use, it’s “ready, willing, and able.” It’s going to be very well under control. Now, it may get bigger. It may get a little bigger. It may not get bigger at all. We’ll see what happens. But regardless of what happens, we’re totally prepared. [Watch video.]

On the stock market declines:

I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage make fools out of themselves, and they say, “If we ever have a president like this” — and there’s always a possibility, it’s an election, you know, who knows what happens? I think we’re going to win, I think we’re going to win by a lot — but when they look at statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect.

Reporter: You don’t you think it had to do with the coronavirus?

Well, I think it did, I think it did, but I think you can add quite a bit of selloff to what they’re seeing. Because they’re seeing the potential – you know, again, I think we’re going to win. I feel very confident of it. We’ve done everything – and much more — than I said we were going to do. You look at what we’ve done. What we’ve done is incredible, with the tax cuts and regulation cuts, and rebuilding our military, taking care of our vets and getting them choice and accountability. All of the things we’ve done. Protecting our Second Amendment. I mean, they view that, the Second Amendment, they’re going to destroy the Second Amendment. When people look at that, they say “this is not good.” So you add that in. I really believe that’s a factor. But, no, what we’re talking about is the virus. That’s what we’re talking about. I do believe that’s — I do believe in terms of CNBC and in terms of Fox Business, I do believe that’s a factor, yeah. And I think after I win the election, I think the stock market is going to boom like it’s never boomed before. Just like the last time I won the election. The day after the stock market went up like a rocket ship. [Watch video.]

On the Democrats, in between asking for their cooperation:

I think Speaker Pelosi is incompetent. She lost the Congress once. I think she’s going to lose it again. She lifted my poll numbers up 10 points I never thought that I would see that so quickly and so easily. I’m leading everybody. We’re doing great. I don’t want to do it that way. It’s almost unfair if you think about it. But I think she’s incompetent.

I think she is not thinking about the country and instead of making a statement like that where I have been beating her routinely at everything instead of making a statement like that she should be saying we have to work together because we have a big problem potential only and may be it’s going to be a very little problem. I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem but we have to work together. Instead she wants to do that same thing with crying Chuck Schumer. [Watch video.]

On his devastating budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control: . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 9:25 am

Proud Boys leader learned of upcoming arrest from D.C. police officer

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The previous post was about an American Nazi who lived in the mid-20th century. They are still around, though, and some are in the police (and in the military). Holley Bailey reports in the Washington Post:

The leader of a right-wing extremist group learned days in advance that he would be arrested for his actions after a pro-Trump rally through his conversations with a D.C. police lieutenant, according to testimony in federal court Wednesday.

Enrique Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, for his part in burning a Black Lives Matter flag stolen from a historic African American church weeks earlier. The evidence played in court during the trial of Tarrio and four other Proud Boys leaders who face seditious conspiracy charges show the far-right figure appeared fully aware of what was coming, thanks to his “source” in the D.C. Police Department.

Tarrio has argued that Shane Lamond, a 22-year-veteran of the D.C. police, is a key witness who could show there was no Proud Boys conspiracy to overthrow the government because the group shared its plans with a law enforcement officer. But the messages shown in court Wednesday reveal how much the then-head of intelligence for the D.C. police was sharing with Tarrio during the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Lamond was suspended with pay from the D.C. police a year ago and is under federal investigation for his contacts with Tarrio; he has not been charged with a crime. In a statement Wednesday, Lamond’s attorney Mark E. Schamel said his client did nothing to aid Jan. 6 rioters and “was only communicating with these individuals because the mission required it.”

He added that Lamond “was instrumental” to Tarrio’s arrest and “there is no legitimate law enforcement officer who is familiar with the facts of this case who would opine otherwise.”

On the evening of Dec. 30, 2020, Lamond and Tarrio had a call lasting nearly 15 minutes, during which Tarrio sent out a bulletin to Proud Boys leaders calling for an “Emergency voice chat.”

Tarrio made it harder for investigators to follow the conversation by setting his messages from around that time to auto delete, FBI Special Agent Peter Dubrowski testified, but responses from other Proud Boys indicate that Tarrio had shared with them that he would be arrested soon.

On Jan. 4, 2021, as he flew to D.C. from Miami, Tarrio told other Proud Boys, “The warrant was just signed.” He was pulled over and arrested driving into the city from the airport.

According to the court record, by that point Lamond had been giving Tarrio inside information for at least six months. D.C. police declined to comment Wednesday on the court testimony, citing the ongoing investigation. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

The US has a serious Nazi problem, and many of the adherents have wormed their way into official positions in the Republican party, the police, and the military.

Written by Leisureguy

16 February 2023 at 11:21 am

The Long Descent to Insurrection

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Jacob Glick writes in Lawfare:

The release of the final report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol was the culmination of a yearslong sprint to uncover the facts behind the attempted insurrection. The committee’s top-line conclusion has been well established by now: Donald Trump’s authoritarian obsession with retaining power resulted in a multipronged assault on American democracy that reached its bloody climax on the steps of the Capitol. By exposing that truth, the committee accomplished its most urgent task, which was to warn the public about the dangers of Trump and his coup-enthusiast lackeys.

But that story is only one piece of a broader constellation of evidence assembled by the committee, including an unprecedented inside look at the coalition of domestic violent extremists who answered Trump’s call to upend the rule of law. I was part of a small team of investigative counsels who were responsible for interviewing members of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other individuals associated with far-right extremist groups. This evidence we collected should be a warning to the general public that the Jan. 6 assault is part of a broader threat of paramilitary violence and its intersection with electoral politics, which began long before the day of the insurrection and has endured far after it was quelled, as former Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord and I wrote in Just Security.

However, this evidence can also be studied in order to reshape public perceptions of the underlying dynamics that made the Jan. 6 attack possible in the first place. The committee’s report and investigation rightly focused on the immediate lead-up to Jan. 6, particularly by zeroing in on the importance of Trump’s tweet from Dec. 19, 2020, as a rallying call for extremists to come to D.C. But the larger universe of evidence released by the select committee shows that there was a much longer run-up to the attack that stretches back to at least the beginning of 2020, if not earlier in Trump’s term.

Depositions with Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon adherents, and others revealed how extremist mobilization did not begin with Trump’s call to his supporters to come to D.C. or even with his refusal to concede the election. The committee uncovered a monthslong trend toward political violence by these groups spurred on by pandemic-related health restrictions and, later, Black Lives Matter protests. Our evidence shows that the violent energy that burst forth on Jan. 6 had been cultivated during the tumultuous months prior, including in the most fascistic fantasies of Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes and chief Proud Boy Enrique Tarrio.

In many instances, the right-wing extremists we deposed pointed to a clear throughline between the perceived tyranny of Democratic politicians’ imposition of coronavirus safety measures in the spring of 2020, the alleged “riots” that occurred in left-leaning areas during the summer, and those same cities allegedly manufacturing ballots and enabling shadowy forces to steal victory from President Trump in the autumn. Beyond revealing the racist heart of the “Big Lie,” this narrative arc shows why paramilitary groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and others were so ready and willing to answer Trump’s command to “stop the steal.” To them, it was the natural extension of what they had been preparing for all year long—often at Trump’s urging—as they grappled with what they saw as an extended crisis that required a vigilante response.

The Trigger of the Coronavirus

As our team conducted depositions with assorted far-right extremists, I was at first surprised by how consistently the onset of the pandemic was cited as the genesis of their engagement with domestic violent extremism. But as we conducted more and more interviews, it began to make sense that the society-altering fallout of the coronavirus would have also had a strong impact on the evolution of the Jan. 6 coalition, because it provided an unprecedented opportunity for paramilitary extremists to join forces with others on the far right in a joint effort to target the government, which would lay the groundwork for the type of coalition that was eventually mustered on Jan. 6.

Perhaps the most consequential example of this phenomenon was Kellye SoRelle, lawyer for the Oath Keepers and close confidante of Stewart Rhodes as he plotted his seditious conspiracy.  SoRelle said her desire to fight back against the coronavirus public health measures initially led her to engage with the Oath Keepers. She testified that a “ragtag” association of groups had private militias—including Rhodes and the Oath Keepers—that acted as security for anti-lockdown activists who challenged restrictions in Texas.

In context of these anti-lockdown protests, SoRelle described the Oath Keepers’ mission as one of . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2023 at 10:43 am

What is the government’s job?

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Over all the torrent of news these days is a fundamental struggle about the nature of human government. Is democracy still a viable form of government, or is it better for a country to have a strongman in charge?

Democracy stands on the principle of equality for all people, and those who are turning away from democracy, including the right wing in the United States, object to that equality. They worry that equal rights for women and minorities—especially LGBTQ people—will undermine traditional religion and traditional power structures. They believe democracy saps the morals of a country and are eager for a strong leader who will use the power of the government to reinforce their worldview.

But empowering a strongman ends oversight and enables those in power to think of themselves as above the law. In the short term, it permits those in power to use the apparatus of their government to enrich themselves at the expense of the people of their country. Their supporters don’t care: they are willing to accept the cost of corruption so long as the government persecutes those they see as their enemies. But that deal is vulnerable when it becomes clear the government cannot respond to an immediate public crisis.

That equation is painfully clear right now in Turkey and Syria, where more than 380,000 people are homeless after Monday’s devastating earthquakes. The death toll has climbed to more than 23,000, and more than 78,000 are injured. So far. Just a month ago, Turkey’s president President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised that the country had the fastest and most effective system of response to disaster in the world.

But that promise has been exposed as a lie. As Jen Kirby pointed out in Vox yesterday, Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who have been moving the country toward autocracy, rose to power thanks to a construction boom in the 2010s that both drove economic growth and permitted Erdoğan to hand out contracts to his supporters. The collapse of more than 6,400 buildings in Monday’s quakes have brought attention to cost cutting and bribery to get around building codes. At the same time, since a big quake in 1999, homeowners have been paying an earthquake tax that should, by now, have been worth tens of billions of dollars, but none of that money seems to be available, and Erdoğan won’t say where it went.

“This is a time for unity, solidarity,” Erdoğan told reporters. “In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest.” He has shut down media coverage of the crisis and cracked down on social media as well. Elections in Turkey are scheduled for May 14. Erdoğan was already facing a difficult reelection.

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad also has to deal with the horrific scenario. Aid groups are having trouble getting assistance to hard-hit areas controlled by opponents of the regime during the country’s ongoing civil war. Assad has blamed western sanctions, imposed against his regime because of its murder of his opponents, for the slow response to the earthquake, but his government has blocked western aid to areas controlled by his opposition. The U.S. has issued a six-month sanctions exemption for relief in Syria.

Russia is also in trouble as its recent invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a protracted war, but it maintains it will continue to extend its new imperial project. On Tuesday, Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, spoke openly of attacking Poland after conquering Ukraine. It was time, he said, for the West to fall to its knees before Russia, and he predicted Ukraine would be Russia’s before the end of 2023. Poland is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and an attack on it would bring the rest of the NATO countries, including the U.S., to its aid.

Today, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people that borders Ukraine and has been under tremendous pressure from Russia, enduring soaring inflation, an inflow of Ukrainian refugees, and power cuts after Russian attacks on Ukraines’ grid, saw its government resign. That government has worked to move closer to European allies and has applied for admission to the European Union. Russia has sought to destabilize that government and has recently appeared to be planning to invade the country. Moldovan president Maia Sandu has nominated a new prime minister, one that intends to continue orienting the country toward Europe.

The U.S. has stood solidly against Russia’s ambitions, but our own  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2023 at 11:47 am

The story no one wants to touch: Why the Capitol Police enabled 1/6

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Our news organizations have become complacent and focused on profit, with the desire to rock the boat much diminished. This does the public a disservice, but large corporations are much more attentive to their own profit than to the public interest. Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch:

The news media’s continuing failure to explore why the U.S. Capitol was so scantily defended against an angry horde of white Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, has now been compounded by the House select committee’s refusal to connect the most obvious dots or ask the most vital questions.

It’s true that there were countless law enforcement failures that day — indeed, far too many to be a coincidence.

But the singular point of failure — the one thing that could have prevented all of it from happening — was that Capitol Police leaders brushed off ample warnings that an armed mob was headed their way.

They lied to everyone about their level of preparedness beforehand. Then they sent a less-than-full contingent of hapless, unarmored officers out to defend a perimeter defined by bike racks, without less-than-lethal weaponry and without a semblance of a plan.

Even the insurrectionists who actively intended to stop the vote could never have expected that breaching the Capitol would be so easy.

Exploring why Capitol Police leaders chose not to prepare for combat, despite mounds of intelligence pointing directly toward such a scenario, should have been a key goal of the Jan. 6 committee.

That Capitol Police leaders — like so many others in law enforcement — were unable to imagine white Trump supporters as a clear and present danger remains one of the most tragically under-addressed elements of that day’s legacy, leaving crucially important lessons entirely unlearned.

The committee was instead focused on one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump. To that end, its report actively made excuses for law enforcement leaders, calling their failures essentially irrelevant. The “best defense,” the report concluded — should another president ever incite an attack on his own government — “will not come from law enforcement, but from an informed and active citizenry.”

What hooey.

Yes, Trump was the instigator. But going forward, the law enforcement community’s blindness to the threat of white nationalism is a more immediate danger.

Learning the lessons of Jan. 6 requires understanding the role of racism, both conscious or unconscious, in law enforcement. It requires understanding whether individual law enforcement leaders flinched for political reasons. And it requires an adjustment in the law enforcement community’s skewed perception of the danger from white nationalists as compared to people of color.

The committee’s members and investigators, however, didn’t ask witnesses anything remotely along those lines.

Then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was the single person most responsible for the failure to protect the Capitol. But no one even asked him (or anyone else) to address how and why the lackadaisical preparations for Jan. 6 compared to the overenthusiastic deployments for Black Lives Matter protests that never posed any danger to the Capitol, and that weren’t even on the Capitol grounds.

Nobody asked any law enforcement officials if they viewed the Jan. 6 insurrectionists sympathetically, or if they were under political pressure not to upset Trump, or if they feared for their jobs.

And certainly nobody asked Sund or anyone else to consider whether the white privilege they shared with the Jan. 6 mob had made it seem unthreatening to them.

It’s no secret why none of these issues were brought up. Committee vice chair Liz Cheney is why.

As multiple committee staffers have told the Washington Post, Cheney’s leadership on the committee came with strings attached. She insisted that the focus of the hearings and the committee’s final report be exclusively on Trump, rather than on any other lessons learned — especially those that might not reflect well on law enforcement.

Asked about the committee’s plans in November, a month before the report was released, Cheney made her goals very clear at a University of Chicago event: “There’s one thing we will not do, and that is we will not blame the Capitol Police,” she said. “We will not blame law enforcement for Donald Trump’s mob, armed, that he sent to the Capitol to stop the electoral count.”

And unlike the excellent media coverage of Jan. 6 overall, reporting on the failure to protect the Capitol has been uniquely lacking every step of the way. I’ve literally been begging reporters since one week after the insurrection to explore how it was allowed to happen, to no avail. (This January 13, 2021, analysis by USA Today was a rare exception.)

To the contrary, press reports. particularly by the otherwise accomplished Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, have repeatedly cast Sund as a martyr and truth-teller when he is neither.

The lack of any public exploration as to why these white Trump supporters got as far as they did leaves us with a statement by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., only hours after the Jan. 6 attack, as the most insightful analysis of the day’s events.

“Had it been  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 January 2023 at 11:29 am

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