Mostly Monday Reads: A Fascist Returns to Power in Italy and the Return of the January 6th CommitteePosted: September 26, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes, DOJ Investigation January 6, House January 6 Committee, Italian Elections, US Midterm Elections 2022 20 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’ve been trying to get a handle on today’s headlines, and wow, there’s chaos afoot in the world and our country. The New York Times has this for a headline: “U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons.” That’s nothing I thought I’d see again since the Cold War was over.
Then, Italy’s voters elected one of those bleach-blonde fascists we see so much these days on Fox News and Republican Conventions. For Eyes on the Right, Damon Linker analyzes the election results for us: ” What just happened in Italy? Much the same as what’s happened in France, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and the U.S.”
What happened in yesterday’s election in Italy?
At the purely factual level, a coalition of right-wing and center-right parties won big in an election trigged by the collapse of a government led by the center-left Mario Draghi.
Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) was the biggest vote winner. The Fratelli were founded in 2012 as a successor to the post-fascist MSI (Italian Social Movement), which was itself founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, who served as a minister under Mussolini. The other major members of the coalition are Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A fourth party called Noi Moderati (really a coalition of small, centrist parties) is also expected to join a right-leaning government. At the time of this writing, with about half of the votes counted, it looks like the right will take something in the range of 60 percent of the seats in both the lower and upper houses of the legislature while winning a slightly smaller share of the vote than polls had predicted. (With Salvini’s Lega, especially, under-performing.)
The reality is somewhat less ominous than one might conclude from hearing we’re living through “the return of fascism in Italy.” The incoming government is certainly Italy’s most right-wing since World War II. But it’s also the case that the members of the victorious coalition have much more in common with other right-leaning politicians and parties around the contemporary world than they do with the politics of the 1930s.
I’m not confident that reassures me especially given the Italian voter turnout. This is from The New York Times: “Giorgia Meloni’s Hard-Right Party Leads in Italy’s Voting. Early results suggest that she could be Italy’s next prime minister, the first woman to hold the position and the first with post-Fascist roots. It will still be weeks before a new government is formed.” One-third of Italian voters sat out the election.
She grew up with a single mother in a working-class area of Rome, and being a woman, and mother, has been central to her political identity.
Being a woman has also distinguished her, and marked a major shift, from her coalition partners, especially Mr. Berlusconi, the subject of endless sex scandals.
But Ms. Meloni, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Salvini share a hard-right vision for the country. Ms. Meloni has called for a naval blockade against migrants and spread fears about a “great replacement” of native Italians. The three share populist proposals for deep tax cuts that economists fear would inflate Italy’s already enormous debt, and a traditionalist view of the family.
Despite the constraints of an Italian Constitution that is explicitly anti-Fascist and designed to stymie the rise of another Mussolini, many liberals are now worried that the right-wing coalition will erode the country’s norms. There was concern that if the coalition were to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, it would have the ability to change the Constitution to increase government powers.
On Thursday, during one of Ms. Meloni’s final rallies before the election, she exclaimed that “if the Italians give us the numbers to do it, we will.”
But the coalition, while winning 44 percent of the vote and a majority in Parliament, appeared not to hit that mark.
There seems to be a growing voter backlash against what the Trump Regime SCOTUS appointments have done to Abortion Rights. Let’s hope we have a massive turnout for our elections in November.
Politico writer Steven Shepard reports, “Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022. Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again.”
Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.
Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.
Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.
It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Whether they’re public firms conducting surveys for the media and academic instructions or private campaign consultants, they have spent the past two years tweaking their methods to avoid a 2020 repeat.
But most of the changes they have made are small. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him. But others worry that Trump’s ongoing dominance of the news cycle — from the FBI seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to litigation against his businesses in New York — effectively is making him the central political figure going into Election Day.
“There’s no question that the polling errors in 16 and 20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”
Let’s hope people just turn out to say no to Trumpism.
The upcoming January 6 Committee public hearing is being overshadowed by a book and the release of information by former senior technical adviser Denver Riggleman. Riggleman looks a bit too opportunistic for me to fully trust his rationale for doing this. This is an interview with him via CBS’ 60 minutes.
Bill Whitaker: Wait a minute: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?
Denver Riggleman: On January 6th, absolutely.
Bill Whitaker: And you know who both ends of that call?
Denver Riggleman: I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.
As senior technical adviser for the January 6th committee, Denver Riggleman, a former House Republican and ex- military intelligence officer, ran a data-driven operation pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol.
Denver Riggleman: From my perspective, you know, being in counterterrorism, you know, if the White House, even if it’s a short call, and it’s a connected call, who is actually making that phone call?
CNN has identified the rioter and has more information on the Rigglemen story. Many texts from Mark Meadows “reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines.” Will this be part of the next public hearing?
As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN.
Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.
In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia.
Mark Meadows should be in some deep doo-doo over this, to use a Poppy Bushism. This analysis of the Riggleman interview comes from The Hill‘s Brad Dress. “Riggleman says Mark Meadows text messages reveal ‘roadmap to an attempted coup.’”
“The Meadows text messages show you an administration that was completely eaten up with a digital virus called QAnon conspiracy theories,” the former GOP lawmaker said. “You can look at text messages as a roadmap, but it’s also a look into the psyche of the Republican Party today.”
Before he stepped down in April, Riggleman and his team combed through phone records, emails, social media posts and text messages on behalf of the House committee.
That included 2,000 messages connected to Meadows, which Riggleman called “a roadmap to an attempted coup … of the United States.”
In those messages, Riggleman said his team traced the phone numbers of previously unidentified contacts to members of Congress and Trump allies including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who pushed to overturn the 2020 election.
Riggleman said what “shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife’s efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement.”
And, there’s this already.
This is from the Tweet posted above. “If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes. ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’”
The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending. The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has hinted at a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department, both in hearings last month and in interviews during the course of the investigation, by highlighting two potential crimes: interfering with an official proceeding and defrauding the United States. A brief the committee filed in a legal dispute with Trump attorney John Eastman, who hatched the fake-electors scheme in the multipronged effort to overturn the election, also highlights these two offenses. Cheney has further suggested that the committee may include a referral on witness tampering, based on contact Trump had with those called to testify before the panel.
The committee may be tempted to stake out a moderate position regarding criminal charges in a misguided effort to garner public support and make the unprecedented prosecution of a former president more palatable, but the Justice Department must act independently in deciding what, or whether, to charge. To be sure, the DOJ should consider any evidence of criminality uncovered by the committee, but it should give no weight to the committee’s opinion in reaching its determination.
Restricting a federal prosecution to two rather obscure-sounding charges — and a possible third relating to the integrity of the process — would not only downplay the seriousness of Trump’s offenses but could also exacerbate the view that any such prosecution is politically motivated. After the Mar-a-Lago search, that perception took hold among Trump supporters, who accuse the FBI of acting on a technicality involving federal records, even though the bureau had a search warrant signed by a federal judge and based on a showing of probable cause that a crime had been committed. Violating the Presidential Records Act by removing or destroying government documents is not in itself in the same league as insurrection or seditious conspiracy; if, however, the records in question pertain to serious national security breaches — The Washington Post has reported that some of the documents relate to nuclear weapons — that might be a different matter.
You may continue reading that at the WAPO link.
So, I think I’m confused, dazed, and befuddled enough today trying to think all this through. What do you think?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Friday Reads: Scoundrels and Deplorables editionPosted: March 5, 2021 Filed under: Biden’s First 100 Days, morning reads | Tags: Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes, justice 11 Comments
Hi Sky Dancers!
I got through my second vaccine with just another sore arm so I’m pretty thrilled to be done with that! This afternoon I’m doing a zoom meeting wiith Greg Mankiw and other of my colleagues in the Dismal Science Field to talk about the equally dismal subject of the Covid-19 Economy. I’ll let you know if any one sees any sunshine yet.
There’s a couple of things in the news today where there’s some Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes going on today. This first one is something that slipped my mind. Marcy Wheeler (aka EmptyWheel) is on it though. Remember that banker that tried to bribe Manafort to get him a position in the Trumpist Regime? The SDNY has him in their sites.
It will be interesting to see what role–if any–a freed and pardoned Manafort will have and if the fifth or the pardon have any impact. We figured there would be Trump appointees storming the Capitol with the other insurrectionists and it seems they’ve caught a fish. This is from WAPO: “State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, beat police with a riot shield, FBI says”. Sounds like one of many nice people on both sides kinda guys.
On Thursday, the FBI arrested a political appointee of President Donald Trump on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint, marking the first member of the former administration arrested in connection with the insurrection.
Federal agents arrested Federico Guillermo Klein, 42, a former State Department aide, on multiple felony charges related to the Capitol riot, according to a criminal complaint published by the New York Times. (Politico first reported the arrest.) The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.
Klein, who is also a former Trump campaign employee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. It is unclear if he has hired a lawyer.
Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6 when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.
At one point, Klein was caught on video shouting for more insurrectionists to come to the front lines, where officers were struggling to hold back the mob.
“We need fresh people, need fresh people,” he said, according to the complaint.
You should go to the article just to see his picture in his tweedy jacket and MAGA hat. He looks like some one’s long lost accountant. Funny how the dull boring white guy types tend to be the angriest of the Trumpers!. But, there he is out beating up police officers and stirring up insurrection. I imagine he’ll likely spend his time in the Prison Library if he’s smart or he’ll get the usual white supremacist tatoo and hook up with the rest of them and do their taxes in his spare time.
Oh, btw, I’m sharing 10 MOST FAMOUS ABSTRACT ARTISTS AND THEIR MASTERPIECES for today. Abstract Art is so much better than abstract conspiracy theories. The internacine back and forth in the Republican party has a new page as Trump v Rove is the newest Argle bargle from Maro Laga. This is from Reuters and Steve Holland: ” Civil War: Trump attacks Republican strategist Rove, who fires back.” Talk about to Skunks in a pissing contest!
Former President Donald Trump intensified his war with the Republican establishment on Thursday by attacking Karl Rove, a longtime Republican strategist who criticized Trump’s first speech since leaving office for being long on grievances but short on vision.
Rove wrote of the 90-minute speech: “There was no forward-looking agenda, simply a recitation of his greatest hits. People like fresh material. Repetition is useful to a point, but it grows stale.”
The spat was the latest round in the civil war that has erupted within the Republican Party, with establishment figures such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eager to put Trump in the rearview mirror, and others, like Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, believing the party’s future depends on the energy of the pro-Trump base.
These baby men need naps. Now, let’s talk about Paul Gosar who is a completely different kind of animal. This is from HuffPo and the keyboard of Christoper Mathias: “Paul Gosar Spoke At A White Nationalist Conference. The GOP Doesn’t Care. The congressman was the keynote speaker at a conference run by a virulent racist and anti-Semite. HuffPost tried to find a Republican lawmaker to rebuke him.” He’s one of the chief deplorables with no redeeming qualities to be found as far as I’m concerned.
Last week a sitting U.S. congressman delivered a keynote speech at a white nationalist conference in Florida.
“Wow, what a group,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said as he took his place behind a podium emblazoned with the letters “AFPAC” — an acronym for America First Political Action Conference, the second annual gathering of the white nationalist “groyper” movement.
After speaking about “cancel culture,” Big Tech’s supposed censorship of right-wingers, and the need for a big border wall to keep “America First,” Gosar said goodbye to the AFPAC crowd, who’d traveled from across the country to attend the secret gathering inside the Hilton Orlando.
“May God bless you,” Gosar said. “And may God bless the United States of America.”
The crowd — a motley crew of unabashed racists and anti-Semites — broke into a chant of “Gosar! Gosar!” to which the congressman responded with a wave, a smile and what looked like an earnest, heartfelt “Thank you.”
AFPAC’s organizer, white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes, took the stage next, telling the crowd that “white people are done being bullied” and that America needs to protect its “white demographic core.”
The next day, Fuentes and Gosar sat down for coffee, according to a photo Fuentes posted to Twitter.
“Great meeting today with Congressman Gosar,” tweeted Fuentes, a 22-year-old Holocaust denier who once compared Jews killed in Nazi gas chambers to cookies baking in an oven. “America is truly uncancelled.”
Okay. That’s not deplorable or even despicable. It’s evil. We’re about to see how low they can go as the debate on the Covid 19 relief bill is happening on the Senate floor after yesterday’s public reading forced by Senator Johnson (asshole, Wisconsin).
Well, that about sums it up. Politico reports that “Dems strike new unemployment benefits deal in $1.9T Covid bill. This legislative endurance run is part of the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to pass Biden’s plan without the need for GOP support.” This puts Vice President Harris front and center in the process.
Senate Democrats struck a new deal on the unemployment benefits in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, shortly before debate on the bill reached its peak.
A new amendment readied by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) would change the aid bill’s boosted weekly federal unemployment payments from $400 weekly, as approved by the House, to $300. But the Senate’s deal would extend benefits through September instead of August, and the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will now be non-taxable income. The agreement was hatched by both moderate and progressive Democrats.
So, that’s going on today and CSpan has it all as usual. “Senate Debates Minimum Wage Amendment to $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill. “
Okay, so the good news is that the QAnon cult did not manifest much of anything yesterday. This is from Newsweek “QAnon’s March 4 Failure Prompts Wave of Trump Inauguration Jokes, Memes.”
QAnon conspiracists believed Trump would return to the White House on Thursday because it was the original date of the presidential inaugurations, before it switched to January 20 when the 20th amendment was passed in 1933.
Federal agencies, like the U.S. Capitol Police and the Department of Homeland Security, prepared for possible violence, following the Capitol riots in early January that involved QAnon supporters, among others, storming the seat of government.
After March 4 passed without violence, Twitter users mocked the QAnon theorists on Twitter, sharing jokes and memes about the inauguration that never happened.
So, today I have no gratuitious Ted Cruz bashing so maybe we can return more to normal!
Mask Up! Be Safe! Get that Vaccine! Let us know you’re okay! We care!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?