Monday Reads: Of Insurrectionists and Fools

Good Monday Sky Dancers!

Anita Malfatti, The Fool, 1913, (Museum of Contemporary Art of University of São Paulo, Brazil)

The Republican Insurrection Show continues.  Watching the Cult of the Stupid hurts my head but we must see these things. First up is what I consider a “big fucking deal”.  We’ve heard that many members of Congress and their staff felt that there were colleagues handing out free tickets and maps to the building.  CNN has evidence of it: “Video appears to show GOP Oregon lawmaker telling protesters how to enter closed state Capitol”.

An Oregon state lawmaker who has been charged after he allegedly allowed protesters into the closed state Capitol building during a debate over Covid-19 restrictions is seen in new video appearing to give insights into how to access the Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police.

Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican, appears in a 78-minute video in which he is speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up “Operation Hall Pass,” according to a clip reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting that is posted on YouTube and says it was streamed on December 16, 2020.

It is unclear if he is aware he’s being recorded.

At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance this will allow them to “develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing.

Later in the video, the Oregon state representative and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access into the building and whom to call.

“We are talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about; and if you accuse me of knowing something about it, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be … but that is just random numbers that I spewed out; that’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say, ‘I’m at the west entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there. But I don’t know anything about that, I don’t have anything to do with that, and if I did I wouldn’t say that I did. But anyways that number that I didn’t say was … So don’t text that number but a number like that,” Nearman says to an undisclosed audience.

Franz Kline
Large Clown (Nijinsky as Petrouchka) c.1948

There’s more.  It’s becoming abundantly clear that this was a premeditated event, well planned, and included elected officials.

Amanda Taub and From Doomsday Preppers to Doomsday Plotters.  Far-right movements have long dreamed of a moment that ends society as we’ve known it. Now, experts say, so-called accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could destabilize democracy.”

For QAnon it is “The Storm,” when mass violence will topple the elite cabal of pedophiles who they imagine to be running the government. White-power groups in the United States have long promised a catastrophic race war. And in Germany and Austria, neo-Nazis herald an imagined putsch on “Day X” — when the democratic order collapses and they take over.

All are examples of “accelerationist” ideologies, which promise a moment when the institutions of government, society and the economy will be wiped out in a wave of catastrophic violence, clearing the way for a utopia that will supposedly follow.

Accelerationism has long been a feature of white-power groups and other far-right militias. But now, experts say, accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could threaten not just public safety, but the stability of democracy itself.

“In many ways we can see how Jan. 6 was a kind of loosely formed coalition around this idea of accelerationism,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, said of the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last January.

Mainstream leaders, she believes, are failing to heed the risk that coalition could pose. “My fear is that we are, as a country, starting to treat that like a one-time fluke rather than as a potential turning point.”

“I have thought a lot about the parallels with the Weimar Republic,” the fragile period of democracy in Germany whose collapse allowed the Nazis to take power, she said. It was marked by a series of attacks, failed coups and other efforts to undermine democracy. And even though actions like Hitler’s beer-hall putsch failed, German democracy was ultimately not strong enough to withstand the chaos.

The poor fool (c.1914-1915) – Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso(1897-1918)

CNN also reports that Congressman Eric Swalwell has served Mo Brooks with a lawsuit.  This is the lede: “Rep. Mo Brooks served with lawsuit related to his role in Capitol insurrection”.  This is a wild little story you can watch if you’d prefer.

Alabama GOP Rep. Mo Brooks was served with a lawsuit filed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell seeking to hold him partially accountable for the January 6 insurrection, according to a tweet from Brooks and an attorney for Swalwell.

“Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!” Brooks wrote on Twitter.

Swalwell’s legal team had had difficulty serving Brooks and hired a private investigator to give him the papers, according to court filings. Swalwell’s attorney, Matthew Kaiser, told CNN Sunday that a private investigator had left the papers with Brooks’ wife at their home in Alabama.

CNN is unable to corroborate Brooks’ claim that Swalwell’s team committed a crime. CNN has reached out to the offices of both Brooks and Swalwell for comment.

The Swalwell legal team has not formally notified the court that Brooks has been served, but that likely will be coming soon. The process server will have to provide a sworn affidavit to the court, as is typical in this procedural phase of a lawsuit. Serving the papers is important because it starts a clock in court for Brooks, the defendant, to respond to Swalwell’s accusations, which seek to hold him, ex-President Donald Trump and others liable for the January 6 attack on Congress. If Brooks doesn’t believe he was properly served, he will have the opportunity to contest it in court. >

Outcast Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is still at it. From Mychael Schnell at The Hill: Cheney compares Trump claims to Chinese Communist Party: ‘It’s very dangerous’.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is comparing former President Trump‘s election claims to those of the Chinese Communist Party, concluding “it’s very dangerous and damaging.”

“When you listen to Donald Trump talk now, when you hear the language he’s using now, it is essentially the same things that the Chinese Communist Party, for example, says about the United States and our democracy,” Cheney said on “The Axe Files” podcast, which was released on Monday.

“When he says that our system doesn’t work … when he suggests that it’s, you know, incapable of conveying the will of the people, you know, that somehow it’s failed — those are the same things that the Chinese government says about us,” Cheney continued. “It’s very dangerous and damaging … and it’s not true.”

Cheney’s remarks come nearly one month after she was removed from her leadership position, in part because of her anti-Trump stance. She repeatedly called out Trump for his false claims of election fraud and refused to give credibility to his belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

Cheney was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as House GOP Conference chair. Minutes after her ouster, Cheney vowed to “do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

“In the Studio” (1975). Philip Guston

Well, that’s not subtle at all.

In other news, Dixicrat Joe Manchin continues his performance art as the last fool standing.   From WAPO and James Downie: “Joe Manchin’s mighty delusions”.

Sen. Joe Manchin III is at it again. In the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, the West Virginia Democrat announced his opposition to the For the People Act and doubled down on his commitment to keeping the Senate filibuster. He coupled the op-ed with appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’s “Face the Nation” — a media tour that cemented his status as the country’s most infuriating politician.

What makes Manchin’s stances so aggravating? It’s not that his views are insincere. Unlike with some other senators, there’s no doubting the West Virginia senator’s earnestness. He hasn’t changed from running as a Green Party candidate and ardently backing a higher minimum wage to merrily voting against it, as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has. He hasn’t consistently promised to put principle over party only to fall in line when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) commands, like Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) or a number of other Republicans have.

Perhaps the issue is the laziness of Manchin’s centrism. Rather than a mix of substantive policy stances, some left and some right, Manchin simply takes the middle of the two parties’ stances. For example, President Biden wants a 28 percent corporate tax rate, while Republicans want 21 percent. So Manchin backs 25 percent. Democrats want a $15-an-hour minimum wage, while Republicans want $10? Manchin supports $11. One gets the sense that if Manchin were told one side believes two plus two equals four and the other side believes it equals eight, he’d conclude that it equals six — and that saying otherwise divides the country. But this approach is not unusual in Washington, particularly among media voices who cling to a “both sides” view of politics. So that is not the crux.

The rich fool
Rembrandt
Original Title: De rijke dwaas
Date: 1627

The Supreme Court’s latest move as provided by NBC: “Supreme Court declines to hear lawsuit challenging male-only draft. Three justices said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering changing the law.”

The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider the constitutionality of a federal law requiring men, but not women, to register for the military draft when they turn 18.

As is its usual practice, the court didn’t say why it wouldn’t take the case. But three justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh, said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering whether to change the law.

federal judge in Texas said the law violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. But a federal appeals court overturned the ruling, concluding that it was bound by a 1981 Supreme Court decision upholding the men-only requirement.

One last thing and it’s your turn to respond and share!

So have a good week! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Mugwump Edition

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It seems Republicans in the Beltway would rather not think about the Trumpist insurrection on January 6, 2021. We’ve been told it was just a typical tourist outing.  We get told we should get beyond it and work on issues and stuff which basically means using Fox propaganda to talk down any policy but catering to crazy right-wing Christianists and white nationalists or tax-cutting for huge corporations and billionaires. We were also told it wasn’t Trumpists.  All that adds up to telling us to not believe our lying eyes reinforced by repeated videos playing showing something quite different.  Also, don’t believe the stories of Capitol Officers impaled on flagpoles bearing flags stating said impaler supports the police.

Why even the target of the lynch mob–then Vice President Mike Pence–couldn’t get respect from his brother yesterday.  This is from Newsweek: “Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s Brother, Votes Against Jan. 6 Commission, Calls It ‘Cover-up for Failed Biden Admin’.”  Yup, I don’t get that statement either.

The brother of former Vice President Mike Pence is defending his House vote against a commission to investigate the violent attack on the United State Capitol that forced his brother into a secured location, calling it a “cover-up for the failed Biden administration.”

“I was here with him, he never left his post,” U.S. Representative Greg Pence, a Republican from Indiana, told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “We impeached the president weeks, days later and now here we are having an investigation? Sounds a little bassackwards, right?”

The 1/6 Commission, modeled after the panel assigned to review the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would review the lead-up to the attack, Capitol security, and future measures that should be taken to prevent another Capitol security issue.

Intelligence doesn’t seem to run in that family.

And so we’re still living the big lie in states targeted for illegal vote recounts.  Arizona’s been the laughing stock of the country since the Cyber Ninjas arrived to destroy ballots and search for bamboo in ballots. The Cyber Ninjas are taking it to those states along with rallies by your favorite lie shouting fascist. And you thought he was only around fleecing the government for Secret Service shananigans still.   States that he will not admit he lost will see the Disgraced Former Guy at rallies.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has taken up the call for a bi-partisan investigation into the January 6 insurrection.  Here are two thought pieces on that.

Haley Byrd Wilt writing for Uphill at the Dispatch has this headline: “GOP Senators Dig In Against January 6 Commission,  Many say they still haven’t read the legislation. But they have problems with it.”

Most Senate Republicans are opposed to the House’s proposed independent commission to look into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the events leading up to it. They’re just not exactly sure why.

In interviews with more than 20 GOP senators on Thursday, Republicans raised fears about how the commission would work, how long it would last, and whether it would amount to a partisan circus. The answers to many of these questions are in the text of the relatively straightforward, 19-page bill passed by the House this week. When pressed on the gap between the details of the bill and their portrayal of it, some senators simply admitted they hadn’t read the legislation.

“If you’re going to turn a commission into a political partisan weapon, you know, use it to subpoena people to embarrass them, use it to want to make allegations that might prove useful in the 2022 elections, you’re actually contributing to the problem,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio—who initially expressed more openness to the commission in a conversation with The Dispatch on Monday night. “My general feeling is that if we can have a serious examination of the events leading up to, occurring, and in the aftermath of that day, we should do it,” Rubio said at the time, notably splitting with Republican leaders who called for the commission to also look into violence largely unrelated to January 6. He said Thursday he still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of supporting the commission, but he sounded a lot more skeptical.

“I’m worried about what it would do to our country to have a so-called independent commission that ultimately turns into a partisan political weapon that continues to exacerbate these tensions and divide people even more,” he said. “Because in a way, it sort of contributes to the very environment that made that day possible.”

Rubio’s concern that the commission will issue political subpoenas is addressed by the legislation: The commission would be evenly divided, with five members appointed by Democratic leaders and five appointed by Republican leaders. For Democrats to issue any subpoena, at least one of the five Republican members would have to agree to it. This was a key demand from GOP leaders—that their appointees would essentially have the power to veto subpoenas. That massive concession from Democrats hasn’t made much of an impression on Republican senators, though.

“Well, I’m still going through all the details of it,” Rubio said when The Dispatch pointed out how the commission would be structured and how subpoenas would be issued. “Honestly, we’ve got so much going on here. This is something the House just passed.”

“I haven’t even read it,” Rubio added. “I mean, it just came over. But just my overarching concern is I can already see the shadow of how this is going to be used for a political purpose, and I’m not interested in formalizing some partisan political weapon by either side.”

The bill text has been publicly available since last Friday. The two parties debated the contours of the commission for four months. It would take maybe a couple of minutes for a staffer to outline the important details for their boss—or just a few minutes longer for a lawmaker to actually read the legislation itself. There’s also, of course, a famous precedent that the bill can be compared with: The original September 11 commission legislation.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A Capitol police officer looks out of a broken window as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

This lead to a look and a threat of Filibuster and Fillibuster reform.  This is from Burgess Everett at Politico: “Filibuster brawl amps up with GOP opposition to Jan. 6 panel

The filibuster has been on hiatus since Joe Biden took over. Senate Republicans are about to change that — over a bipartisan commission to probe the Capitol riot.

After more than four months of letting their power to obstruct lie unused in the Senate, the 50-member Senate GOP is ready to mount a filibuster of House-passed legislation creating an independent cross-aisle panel to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. If Republicans follow through and block the bill, they will spark a long-building fight over the filibuster’s very existence.

The filibuster has spent months of lurking in the background of the Senate’s daily business, but the battle over the chamber’s 60-vote threshold will erupt as soon as next week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is plotting to bring the House’s Jan. 6 commission bill to the floor and daring Senate Republicans to block it.

And GOP opposition is hardening by the day. According to interviews with more than a half-dozen Republicans on Thursday, there is almost no path to even opening up debate on the bill — much less passing it.

“I don’t think there will be 10 votes on our side for it,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind). “At this stage, I’d be surprised if you’re gonna get even a handful.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been circumspect about his use of the filibuster, leaving the tool untouched so far this Congress as his conference has advanced Democratic bills confronting hate crimes, planning water infrastructure and increasing American competitiveness. But the Jan. 6 commission — and talking about former President Donald Trump for months on end — is a bridge too far for the GOP.

So, an armed insurrection that threatened the lives of this new brand of mugwumps wasn’t a bridge too far for them.  Say we had a 9/11 attack and nobody gave a damn enough to look into it?

So, there are a few former republicans around watching all of this with absolute fear and loathing.  Michael Gerson is not a guy I usually quote but here we go.

The Washington Post: Opinion: The threat of violence now infuses GOP politics. We should all be afraid.”

American politics is being conducted under the threat of violence.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has a talent for constructive bluntness, describes a political atmosphere within the GOP heavy with fear. “If you look at the vote to impeach,” she said recently, “there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives.” The events of Jan. 6 have only intensified the alarm. When Donald Trump insists he is “still the rightful president,” Cheney wrote in an op-ed for The Post, he “repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6.” And there’s good reason, Cheney argued, “to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again.”

Sometimes political events force us to step back in awe, or horror, or both. The (former) third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives has accused a former president of her party of employing the threat of violence as a tool of intimidation. And election officials around the country — Republican and Democratic — can attest to the results: Death threatsRacist harassmentArmed protesters at their homes.

He’s obviously never defended a women’s clinic from right to lifer’s, or a Unitarian church, or had his kids stalked by them either. I’ve been subjected to this stuff since the 1980s when Pat Robertson and the like got all Republican on us.  It’s been there for a long time.  I remind you I was considered an apostate republican in 1992 for supporting Roe V Wade, the Equal Rights Amendment, and marching through streets with lesbians celebrating women’s suffrage.  They’ve been at this for decades.

I still can’t believe what they’ve put Hillary Clinton through for decades. Over 30 freaking Benghazi hearings that find nothing and we can’t get an investigation into folks trying to start a Civil War over a total lie?

So, Former Guy!! This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!   At least he can’t do this anymore.  Via CNN: “Trump administration secretly obtained CNN reporter’s phone and email records  —  Washington (CNN)The Trump administration secretly sought and obtained the 2017 phone and email records of a CNN correspondent, the latest instance where federal prosecutors have taken aggressive steps targeting journalists in leak investigations.”

Wow, that’s a total disregard for the First Amendment.  I have a feeling we’ll hear more about what kinds of things Barr and the former guy did strictly against the Constitution and law.

Meanwhile, we’re still standing.  Have a good weekend!  Be safe!