Monday Reads: Deep State Doo-Doo Edition

Henri Rousseau, The Equatorial Jungle, 1909, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m having one of those bad tech weeks.  After replacing and updating my cellphone, I started work only to find that my camera no longer works, which isn’t a good situation for a professor still highly reliant on Zoom.  The internal camera and mic are messed up completely. Fortunately, an old headset can get me talking, but I just had to order a new computer.  I tried resetting, and no dice. So, I’m in for a long period of installing and updating. Not exactly what I had planned for the end-of-year budget or festivities. I’m a nervous wreck from all this, and we’ll see what I’m up to doing today.

So, is it just me, or is it getting to be a Jungle out there?

The January 6 committee is voting this week to indict Mark Meadows, who renigged on his cooperation after incriminating himself.  This is from Politico: “Meadows Jan. 5 email indicated Guard on standby to ‘protect pro-Trump people,’ investigators say. The context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.”

It’s unclear who Meadows, the former White House chief of staff to Donald Trump, relayed the information to or whether it was the result of any insight provided by the Defense Department. But the exchange is of high interest to congressional investigators probing whether Trump played a role in the three-hour delay between the Capitol Police’s urgent request for Guard support and their ultimate arrival at the Capitol, which had been overrun by pro-Trump rioters. The comment also aligns with testimony from former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who said that in a Jan. 3 conversation with Trump, the then-president told him to “do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights.”

The description of the message is part of a 51-page document released Sunday by the select panel a day before it is set to vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. The full House is expected to vote to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress on Tuesday.

In other messages described by the committee, Meadows appears to have asked members of Congress to help connect Trump with state lawmakers shortly after his defeat in November.

“POTUS wants to chat with them,” Meadows said, according to documents obtained by the Jan. 6 committee and described publicly Sunday evening.

The messages also describe numerous contacts with members of Congress about Trump’s efforts to recruit state lawmakers and encourage them to help overturn the election results. They also included questions about Meadows’ exchanges with members of Congress as they pressed him urgently to issue a statement telling rioters on Jan. 6 to exit the Capitol.

Henri Rousseau, Tiger in a Tropical Storm, 1891, National Gallery, London.

Luke Broadwater–writing for The New York Times–has this to say.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released a report on Sunday that laid out its case for a contempt of Congress charge against Mark Meadows, the chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, presenting evidence of Mr. Meadows’s deep involvement in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

In the 51-page document, the committee said it wanted to question Mr. Meadows about an email he had sent a day before the attack advising that the National Guard would be used to defend Trump supporters. The panel said it also wanted to ask him about an exchange with an unnamed senator about rejecting electors for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Meadows had been cooperating with the committee’s investigation, but he refused to appear for a scheduled deposition last week or to turn over additional documents, citing Mr. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege. The committee, which is controlled by Democrats, is slated to vote on Monday to recommend a contempt of Congress charge against him for his refusal to cooperate with its subpoena. That charge carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.

Before coming to loggerheads with the panel, Mr. Meadows provided more than 9,000 pages of records to the committee. The information they contained raised additional questions, the panel said.

Among the emails and text messages that Mr. Meadows turned over were the following, the panel said:

  • A Nov. 7 email that discussed an attempt to arrange with state legislators to appoint slates of pro-Trump electors instead of the Biden electors chosen by the voters. Mr. Meadows’s text messages also showed him asking members of Congress how to put Mr. Trump in contact with state legislators.

  • Text messages Mr. Meadows exchanged with an unidentified senator in which he recounted Mr. Trump’s view on Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to reject electors from certain states. Mr. Trump “thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power too,” Mr. Meadows wrote.

  • A Jan. 5 email in which Mr. Meadows said the National Guard would be present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “protect pro Trump people.”

  • Emails from Mr. Meadows to Justice Department officials on Dec. 29, Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 in which he encouraged investigations of voter fraud, including allegations already rejected by federal investigators and courts.

  • Text messages Mr. Meadows exchanged with members of Congress as violence engulfed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in which lawmakers encouraged him to persuade Mr. Trump to discourage the attack, as well as a text message sent to one of the president’s family members in which Mr. Meadows said he was “pushing hard” for Mr. Trump to “condemn this.”

  • Text messages reflecting Mr. Meadows’s private skepticism about some of the wild public statements about allegations of widespread election fraud and compromised voting machines that were put forth by Sidney Powell, a lawyer working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.

The committee also said it had a number of questions prompted by Mr. Meadows’s new book, “The Chief’s Chief,” and cited it as evidence that his refusal to testify was “untenable.”

 

This is from The Raw Story link in the tweet above.

Donald Trump’s allies — including Meadows, his White House chief of staff — were frantically covering up the former president’s reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection as the mob was attacking police and invading the U.S. Capitol, and Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent said the report shows some of the topics Meadows was afraid to testify about.

“We know from press accounts, such as this Post report, that Trump watched the violent assault unfold on TV and ignored many frantic pleas that he step in,” Sargent wrote. “One Trump adviser told The Post that Trump was enjoying the spectacle of his followers fighting on his behalf.”

3 Black Cats And Nature By Pierre Maxo

Every day we learn about how depraved and corrupt the Republican party has become.  Juan Williams has this to say in The Hill: The GOP is an anti-America party”.

The problem is with voters willing to back Trump.

Those are people who value slogans more than the ability to govern the country.

That means ambitious GOP politicians are right to imitate Trump’s tactics of inciting outrage and demeaning anyone, including Republicans, who stand outside the cult.

It also means that Republicans are indifferent to the corruption in the Trump White House that has been detailed in numerous books.

Those books agree Trump tried to overturn the presidential election.

Those books say he bullied his own vice president and tried to intimidate Justice Department officials.

This is contemptible. Yet today’s Republican voters still tell pollsters they will support Trump for the party’s 2024 nomination.

The self-destruction of the party is evident in the GOP’s voting record in Congress.

In the last year, every congressional Republican voted against a bill to help the country recover from the economic damage caused by COVID-19.

Republicans also overwhelmingly opposed an infrastructure bill favored by most Americans.

Now the GOP is opposed to President Biden’s Build Back Better bill to lower taxes for the middle class and help with child care.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) apparently shrugged off a question about a Republican agenda to help the country move forward.

A donor at a private dinner asked McConnell about what kind of platform the GOP might actually propose, according to Axios.

McConnell, Axios reported, replied by essentially dismissing the idea that the GOP should even consider doing such a thing, when it could instead make hay just by hitting Democrats.

Republicans in the Senate, led by Utah’s Mike Lee, recently threatened a government shutdown to oppose the Biden administration’s mandate that larger businesses must require their employees to either get vaccinated or have weekly COVID-19 tests.

Opposing a mandate for vaccination is legitimate. Allowing a deadly vaccine hesitancy to grow among Republicans to score political points is worthy of scorn.

That indifference to public good leads to the conclusion that the GOP wants to collapse faith in government to gain support for a coup attempt in 2024.

Well, that about sums it up!

I’m really not sure what to do about these two. It is dangerous performance art or something worse.

Self Portrait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo, 1943

David Leonhardt writes this for the New York Times: “America’s Anti-Democratic Movement. It’s making progress.”

The main battlegrounds are swing states where Republicans control the state legislature, like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Republicans control these legislatures because of both gerrymandered districts and Democratic weakness outside of major metro areas. (One way Democrats can push back against the anti-democratic movement: Make a bigger effort to win working-class votes.) The Constitution lets state legislatures set the rules for choosing presidential electors.

“None of this is happening behind closed doors,” Jamelle Bouie, a Times columnist, recently wrote. “We are headed for a crisis of some sort. When it comes, we can be shocked that it is actually happening, but we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Here is an overview of recent developments:

I still don’t understand how working-class voters–used in this sense–don’t seem to include women or people of color but anyway, check out the actions from those states.  It’s an appalling set of anti-democratic laws and moves.

Gabriel Alix (1930-1998)
Les tigres

Here’s an interesting read from Eleanor Eagan writing for American Prospect: “The Trump Officials Still Running Biden’s Justice Department.”

We are rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of January 6, and Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to give any sign that his Justice Department is independently investigating former President Trump and his fellow instigators. This is, by far, Garland’s most high-profile failure when it comes to accountability for the prior administration, one that more observers have begun to notice. But it is not the only one.

The Revolving Door Project has identified two Trump political officials who remain in senior career roles at the Department of Justice, in the Federal Programs Branch and the solicitor general’s office, after being hired under suspicious circumstances. From their perches, both have played a part maintaining Trump’s legacy in the courts. Their presence and power point to the danger of Garland’s refusal to “look backward.”

The first official is Alexander Haas, the current director of the DOJ Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch. Haas joined the department in January 2017, the first month of the Trump administration. He nominally left his job at law firm King & Spalding for a career position as an assistant U.S. attorney in the DOJ. Just one month later, however, he already had a new gig as chief of staff and special counsel to Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Chad Readler.

It’s not just the timing that’s unusual here. Almost without exception, chiefs of staff to assistant attorney generals are political appointees. On paper, however, Haas appears to have remained an assistant U.S. attorney, with his stint in the Civil Division front office a temporary detail. If he was going to be transferred into a political role so quickly, why was he not hired into that position to begin with? Was there some reason it was preferable that he be hired as a career official?

Whatever the category listed on his HR paperwork, Haas was indistinguishable from any other political appointee. At the Trump DOJ, he worked closely with Readler—a man whom the Alliance for Justice described as exhibiting a “diehard advocacy for right-wing causes” when he was subsequently nominated and confirmed to a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals—on some of the Trump administration’s most horrendous cases. For example, in Garza v. Hargan, Haas defended the Trump administration in a case challenging the federal government’s refusal to allow a 17-year-old ICE detainee access to an abortion.

In 2019, Haas became the director of the Federal Programs Branch, a career position. But while his political title was gone, his actions did not follow. In 2020, Haas defended the Trump administration’s efforts to truncate the 2020 census, a move that civil rights groups labeled a backdoor effort at disenfranchisement. Haas also put his name to a Justice Department complaint against Melania Trump’s former adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff for publishing her tell-all memoir. Legal experts decried the filing as “legally unenforceable” and “a complete abuse of the Justice Department’s finite resources.”

That ain’t good!  Go figure things out Ms. VEEP.

So, that’s out for me!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Blue Monday Reads: It will be a Long Cold Winter

Emil Nolde, Winter

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I kept the TV off–as usual–for my weekend.  Still, things crept through my timelines on social media so I got your basic headlines. The 4th wave of the Covid-19 is settling in for Winter. Germany has basically told all unvaccinated people they must stay home unless they’re doing something absolutely necessary. New York City is getting tougher too. The New York Times reports that “New York City sets a sweeping vaccine mandate for all private employers.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate for all private employers in New York City on Monday morning to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

Mr. de Blasio said the aggressive measure, which takes effect Dec. 27 and which he described as the first of its kind in the nation, was needed as a “pre-emptive strike” to stall another wave of coronavirus cases and help reduce transmission during the winter months and holiday gatherings.

“Omicron is here, and it looks like it’s very transmissible,” he said in an interview on MSNBC. “The timing is horrible with the winter months.”

New York City has already put vaccine mandates in place for city workers and for employees and customers at indoor dining, entertainment and gyms. Nearly 90 percent of adult New York City residents now have at least one dose of the vaccine.

But Mr. de Blasio said the city must go further to combat another wave of the virus in New York City, once the center of the pandemic. Some private employers have required employees to get vaccinated, but many others have not.

Mr. de Blasio said the new measure would apply to about 184,000 businesses. Employees who work in-person at private companies must have one dose of the vaccine by Dec. 27; remote workers will not be required to get the vaccine. There is no testing option as an alternative.

The city plans to offer exemptions for valid medical or religious reasons, Mr. de Blasio said. City officials will release detailed guidelines about issues like enforcement by Dec. 15 after consulting with business leaders.

The mayor also announced that the rules for dining and entertainment would apply to children ages 5 to 11, who must have one dose to enter restaurants and theaters starting on Dec. 14, and that the requirement for adults would increase from one dose of a vaccine to two starting on Dec. 27, except for those who initially received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Randegg in the Snow with Ravens, Otto Dix, 1935

The problem is still the people in the hinterlands who are also creating problems with their gun fetishes and authoritarian/theocratic tendencies.  Sorry to do this, but we’re going there today.  Trumpists and theocrats threaten our democracy. This is written by Barton Gellman for The Atlantic: Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun .

The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.

Who or what will safeguard our constitutional order is not apparent today. It is not even apparent who will try. Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake.

“The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, told me in late October. Hasen prides himself on a judicious temperament. Only a year ago he was cautioning me against hyperbole. Now he speaks matter-of-factly about the death of our body politic. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.”

For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

By way of foundation for all the rest, Trump and his party have convinced a dauntingly large number of Americans that the essential workings of democracy are corrupt, that made-up claims of fraud are true, that only cheating can thwart their victory at the polls, that tyranny has usurped their government, and that violence is a legitimate response.

Any Republican might benefit from these machinations, but let’s not pretend there’s any suspense. Unless biology intercedes, Donald Trump will seek and win the Republican nomination for president in 2024. The party is in his thrall. No opponent can break it and few will try. Neither will a setback outside politics—indictment, say, or a disastrous turn in business—prevent Trump from running. If anything, it will redouble his will to power.

Snow-Covered Pine,Gabriele Münter, 1933

This is also from The Atlantic and written by George Packer. Way to go with the winter cheer! Are We Doomed?  If you haven’t got Blues yet, you’re either a White Nationalist or dead.

A year after the insurrection, I’m trying to imagine the death of American democracy. It’s somehow easier to picture the Earth blasted and bleached by global warming, or the human brain overtaken by the tyranny of artificial intelligence, than to foresee the end of our 250-year experiment in self-government.

The usual scenarios are unconvincing. The country is not going to split into two hostile sections and fight a war of secession. No dictator will send his secret police to round up dissidents in the dead of night. Analogies like these bring the comfort of at least being familiar. Nothing has aided Donald Trump more than Americans’ failure of imagination. It’s essential to picture an unprecedented future so that what may seem impossible doesn’t become inevitable.

Before January 6, no one—including intelligence professionals—could have conceived of a president provoking his followers to smash up the Capitol. Even the rioters livestreaming in National Statuary Hall seemed stunned by what they were doing. The siege felt like a wild shot that could have been fatal. For a nanosecond, shocked politicians of both parties sang together from the hymnal of democracy. But the unity didn’t last. The past months have made it clear that the near miss was a warning shot.

If the end comes, it will come through democracy itself.

You can read his scenario at the link. Here’s some more anti-democratic stuff from Axios and Mike Allen.

Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.

Why it matters: Many of these efforts couldn’t exist without the backing of major corporate figures and billionaires who are eager to push back against things like “censorship” and “cancel culture.”

  • It’s still not clear whether demand will match supply.

Driving the news: Rumble, a conservative alternative to YouTube, agreed to go public at an implied $2.1 billion valuation via a SPAC merger.

  • The SPAC is sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm led by billionaire and Trump fundraiser Howard Lutnick.
  • “I’m excited to support Rumble and its ability to operate the neutral video platform,” Lutnick said in a statement.

Donald Trump’s new social media company, called Truth Social, also plans to go public via a SPAC and on Saturday said that it secured $1 billion in so-called PIPE financing.

  • The SPAC is currently trading at a market value of $1.6 billion, down from its $4.5 billion peak in late October. Truth Social has yet to name a CEO.

Gettr, a social app launched by ex-Trump aide Jason Miller, has not disclosed all of its investors, but Miller has acknowledged that one of the app’s funders is the family foundation of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.

Aside from social networks, conservatives are pushing to create alternatives to other tech tools and communication platforms.

Gabriele Münter ‘Häuser im Schnee’ 1933

Some good news is that Trump SPAC is under investigation by federal regulators, including SEC  via CNBC.

  • Federal regulators are investigating former President Donald Trump’s SPAC deal.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA probes were disclosed in a filing by Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company.

  • Trump Media & Technology Group has said it will launch a social media platform called “TRUTH Social.”

  • The platform would compete with Twitter and Facebook, both of which have banned the former president because of his incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

You may read more details about this story in The New York Times.  Securities Regulators are among the most fastidious investigators anywhere.  You should also read this Op-Ed from Jennifer Rubin from the Washington Post.  Rubin does a great job vivisecting the most vial Governor of Mississippi.  He’s pretty much everything you hate in those white evangelicals.  The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping.

The priority for Reeves and the GOP is to force women to complete their pregnancies and give birth — even though that is exponentially more dangerous to the lives of women in his state. (The Post reports that in Mississippi it is “75 times more dangerous for women to give birth than to undergo a pre-viability abortion.”)

Republicans are incapable of explaining the contradiction between their objection to minor inconveniences (e.g. mask-wearing, vaccinations, reasonable gun laws) to save lives and their insistence that women undergo dangerous pregnancies to protect a fetus, which they consider to be a person.

Well, I was hungry but now my appetite has been ruined.  Think I’ll have some more tea and turn on some nice music. I vote this coming Saturday for Orleans Parish Sheriff and my City Council seat. It’s amazing to be someplace with normal candidates and then look at the rest of the country and state.

Here are a few things you may want to check out!

From Politico: ‘Absolute liars’: Ex-D.C. Guard official says generals lied to Congress about Jan. 6

From WAPO: Sidney Powell group raised more than $14 million spreading election falsehoods

From CNN: Biden administration expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics this week

From WAPO: GOP congressman’s gun-toting family Christmas photo sparks outrage days after school shooting

There is a lot out there on Republican Shenanigans and our inability to really address many of the central issues.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

Now the fraud police are coming
Right out to your door
They say you have no liberty if you’re who there looking for
No writ of habeas corpus
No platform of the sands
The wind don’t have to hurry only the wind knows where you went


Monday Reads: Darwin Award Issue

Masks, 1911, Emil Nolde

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

The state of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans opened up right before Halloween dropping some of the mask mandates. I’m not sure how smart of an idea that was given that we’ve seen the same pattern of plague rat invasion as tourists come back to the city from places where vaccine adoption is low.  The 4th of July comes to mind.  However, we did have good numbers, and I’m now starting the countdown to Thanksgiving to see if we surge again. I’m still masking and staying my fat ass home mostly. I’ve come to enjoy having things delivered.  Halloween should have been a big party with best mask awards.

So, anyway, today’s New York Times and David Leonhardt have some startling–but not surprising–statistics to report. “U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder. The partisan gap in Covid’s death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.” This is essentially why I worry when we just invite the surrounding parishes and states to let their people out of the state to aim a deadly cough at anyone.  The differences in death rates between this year and last are astounding.

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

Some conservative writers have tried to claim that the gap may stem from regional differences in weather or age, but those arguments fall apart under scrutiny. (If weather or age were a major reason, the pattern would have begun to appear last year.) The true explanation is straightforward: The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.

And while we’re on the subject, how can you possibly get triggered by Big Bird?

Jackson Pollock, Mask,
1941

Plague rats indeed.  Red is Dead.  Meanwhile, the worst of them are triggered by Big Bird talking to kids about his vaccine. There’s a lot of a pearl-clutching about doing mass vaccinations in schools while many of us are old enough to have stood in line for a lot of those in the 1950s and 1960s. Many Republicans are acting like that never happened.

So, if they think public health actions are a governmental overreach, why are they down with authoritarianism?  Is it because it wears a white face?  This is from The Bulwark. ” Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report. Claremont’s post-election war game provides a window into the group’s ambitions.”

John Eastman has a prominent place in all of this along with all the white nationalist domestic terrorists. It’s a tough read but a necessary one.

The sun rises on January 6, 2021 while a nation is in crisis.

Michigan’s presidential electors are in dispute after a mysterious fire in Detroit destroyed thousands of mail-in ballots, ultimately throwing the election to Congress.

The nation’s capital is overwhelmed by riots organized by left-wing radicals.

A Republican member of Congress is attacked and critically injured in the violence, potentially depriving Donald Trump of the decisive vote.

However, the representative heroically insists on being taken to the House floor. “With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the member casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.”

This is the grisly climax of a report published in mid-October 2020 by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) called “79 Days to Inauguration,” prepared by “Constitutional scholars, along with experts in election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and media . . . coordinated by a retired military officer experienced in running hundreds of wargames.”

Among these luminaries were figures such as John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

Other participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

Masks, 1925′ James Ensor

The MSM needs to be screaming a lot louder about this than talking about sausage-making behind any policy.  Leave the latter worry to Nancy, Chuck, Kamala, and Joe.  More from that Bulwark article:

Remember, this narrative is the result of a role-playing exercise in which the participants imagined themselves as key decision-makers in the federal government. The actions described, therefore, might be best understood as a combination of group therapy and suggestions for how they believe the federal government and law enforcement should behave in a moment of constitutional crisis.

Some of the report is revealing. Some of it is sad. Some of it is darkly funny. For instance, the authors’ recommendation for mass, politically motivated arrests “to remove the players from the picture” sits oddly next to the right’s outraged reaction to the prosecution of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There’s more irony in how the task force imagines right-wing gangs would operate during such a period: with quiet discipline and in cooperation with law enforcement.

A lack of social media activity and overt action by the rioting by members of the Proud Boys draws the attention of law enforcement officials suspecting they may be operating covertly on the ground in several major urban rioting areas, but their exact involvement is unknown. Reports of militias moving into suburban areas is being monitored. Several groups affiliated with the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers have openly offered to assist law enforcement in putting down the violence via social media, touting significant current and retired law enforcement and military membership.

Which is . . . not how the Trumpist forces behaved during the actual crisis:

Go read it and try to open a few eyes around you by sharing it.  Then see who they really are when you read this.

A man who allegedly participated in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 and is wanted by the FBI is now seeking asylum in Belarus, the country’s state media reported Monday, presenting him as a “simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”

Evan Neumann, who appears to have sat down for an interview with Belarusian state television in a segment titled “Goodbye, America,” is wanted in the United States on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder.

Both Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his close ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have frequently referenced the Capitol riot, calling the prosecution of those involved an example of “double standards” by the United States because it frequently criticizes crackdowns on anti-government protests abroad.

When mass protests broke out across Belarus last year over its presidential election, which the international community has widely denounced as rigged, thousands of demonstrators were brutally beaten by police and arrested. Many said they were tortured in prison.

But Neumann could be welcomed in Belarus as part of the regime’s anti-Western propaganda efforts. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has said the United States stoked last year’s opposition movement to unseat him.

Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, which is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, said in a statement that the embassy has “seen Belarusian state media reporting about Mr. Neumann. Due to U.S. privacy laws, we are limited in what we can say about individual U.S. citizens.”

“The United States is a country where the rule of law is respected and where government is transparent and accountable for its actions,” O’Connor added. “Every citizen can count on an impartial and objective court system. There has not been a single case of transparent, accountable investigation into and prosecution of the actions of Belarusian police that resulted in deaths, systemic torture and the continued repression of Belarusian citizens, of whom over 800 remain in jail for peaceful protest against the regime.”

Death and the Masks, 1897, James Ensor

Maybe Belarus could take all the Trumps and the Trumperz in and deal with them.  That way we’d have a lot fewer problems.  NBC reports on a poll that shows deep partisan differences in social media usage. Well, if they all went to Belarus they wouldn’t have to worry about social media at all.

Our most recent NBC News poll asked respondents about their social media consumption, and the results told a clear story that doesn’t require 280 characters.

Twitter isn’t real life — at least when it comes to party identification and political attitudes.

In the poll, 69 percent of adults say they have an account on Facebook, 28 percent say they use Twitter, 27 percent use TikTok and 27 percent don’t have an account on any of these social media platforms.

And those who use Twitter and TikTok are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans; are more likely to be Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primary season; and are — not surprisingly — more likely to be younger than the general population.

That figures.  Most people I know on Twitter use it to find breaking news.  I don’t really look for news on Facebook other than that related to my friends’ cats, dogs, bunnies, and grandchildren.

So, I’ll leave all this to you to discuss.  Are you still masking everywhere?  I walk Temple sans mask but I don’t go near people without one in a building if I go at all.  Like I said, I’m beginning to enjoy front door service.

What’s on your news and reading list today?