Posted: November 9, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: anti-semitism, Donald Trump, extremist threats and violence, fascism, Fred Upton, harassment of election officials, January 6 insurrection, Kristallnacht, Nazi Germany, Paul Gosar, Racism
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
John Farmer at The Jerusalem Post: Kristallnacht and today’s extremist violence – opinion.
Synagogues, shops, homes were vandalized and burned in the thousands. Over ninety Jews were murdered, countless others beaten. Some 20,000 Jews were seized and sent to the concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. Several hundred died at the hands of the guards.
It may have appeared a spontaneous, chaotic, unplanned riot. In the smokescreen of chaos and violence, it was easy to miss the careful underlying planning.
Earlier that day, orders were issued to the German Police and Fire Brigades by Reinhard Heidrich that spelled out in specific detail the rules of engagement. No violent acts could be carried out that threatened German lives or property; stores and residences of Jews could be “destroyed but not looted”; non-Jewish businesses were to be “completely secured against damage”; demonstrations “which are in progress should not be prevented by the police but only supervised.” In Frankfurt, the commander of the 50th brigade passed on the order, noting that “all the Jewish synagogues within the 50th Brigade are to be blown up or set on fire immediately. Neighboring houses occupied by Aryans are not to be damaged. The action is to be carried out in civilian clothes.”
Kristallnacht’s significance as an inflection point in the campaign to destroy the Jewish population is undeniable. As David Frum has put it, “Through the end of 1937, it remained possible to hope that the Nazi persecution might still respect some last limits of humanity. …” On Kristallnacht, “the last of those illusions was smashed like broken glass.”
But Kristallnacht is significant also for the template it set forth for organizing seemingly spontaneous extremist violence. First, subject a population to unremitting sole-source propaganda for a period of time to lay a groundwork of popular belief. Second, summon that population to demonstrate its grievances. Third, enlist a relatively few trained participants to blend in with the demonstrators and incite specific acts of violence. Fourth, claim after the fact that the whole thing was an expression of spontaneous outrage.
We now know that the January 6 insurrection was not spontaneous either. Trump and his goons were planning for months to claim the 2020 election was rigged and to overturn the result if Joe Biden won. If it hadn’t been for a few Republican officials who resisted Trump’s high-pressure tactics in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, the coup might have been successful. Next time there could be a different result.
We must always be mindful that January 6 was only the beginning of the Trumpist attacks on U.S. democracy. Since Trump began running for president we’ve seen an escalation of anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-immigrant extremism as Trump gave permission for his followers to act out their prejudices. We are still in great danger of losing our democracy.
More from the Farmer article:
A report from June 2020 entitled “COVID-19, Conspiracy, and Contagious Sedition: A Case Study on the Militia-Sphere,” noted that “[t]he Militia-sphere’s messaging has grown increasingly extreme as the pandemic lockdowns have continued, promoting theories that the pandemic is being exaggerated to justify a police state; exploiting recent protests regarding the George Floyd incident, and transforming peaceful protests into violent chaos.” The report also noted “how the largest online conspiracy group in the U.S., QAnon, exploits the opportunity presented by these events to draw populist support for increasingly violent and apocalyptic confrontations against the lockdown, law enforcement, and an ill-defined ‘elite.’”
These trends culminated in the events of January 6, 2021 at the nation’s Capitol. The groundwork of propaganda having been laid for months, both before the election and after, and the masses having been summoned to Washington to protest the election of President Biden, the appearance of a spontaneous groundswell of outrage was well established. But as the Miller Center/NCRI’s “Assessment of the Capitol Riots” made clear, the violence associated with the protest was anything but spontaneous: “Explicit plans to `Occupy the Capitol’ were circulating across social media suggesting that the Capitol building was an explicit target of the violent vanguard from the beginning.”
I still can’t get over that Bulwark article that Dakinikat posted yesterday: Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report. If you haven’t read the whole piece yet, I hope you will do it now. These people were literally gaming out a coup to keep Trump in office. You can also check out this summary at The Daily Beast: Claremont Institute’s MAGA Fanfic Report Predicted Antifa Riots to Stop a Trump ‘Win’ in 2020. The final two paragraphs:
While the scenario is extremely ridiculous at points, The Bulwark notes that several of its authors, particularly Eastman, had Trump’s ear following his election defeat—so the report also serves as a chilling alternative history as to how things could have played out under different circumstances.
As reporter Christian Vanderbrouk notes in the Bulwark article: “Practically, the report is an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government—aided by citizen ‘posses’ of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office.”
One of the authors of the report was John Eastman, the so-called lawyer who wrote the memo outlining how Mike Pence could overturn the electoral college results.
This is how much Republican violence and hate have been normalized: Yesterday a member of Congress threatened a colleague and the president with a violent video, and so far nothing has happened to him.
The Washington Post: Rep. Paul Gosar tweets altered anime video showing him killing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.
Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) shared an altered, animated video that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden, prompting condemnation and calls for his Twitter and Instagram accounts to be suspended.
Ocasio-Cortez responded Monday night after arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of a congressional delegation. Gosar, she said, will probably “face no consequences” because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “cheers him on with excuses.”
A Gosar staffer defended the video Monday night, dismissing claims that it glorifies violence.
“Everyone needs to relax,” Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, said in a statement.
A Twitter spokesperson said late Monday that a “public interest notice” had been placed on Gosar’s tweet because it violates the company’s policy against hateful conduct.
Gosar has long drawn criticism for his extremist views, including his spreading of conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the deadly white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. In February, he appeared at an event whose organizer called for white supremacy. Gosar later distanced himself from the organizer’s remarks.
The congressman’s Sunday night post — which he shared on Twitter and Instagram — appeared to go further than his previous contentious remarks and social media posts, raising the specter of political violence in a manner similar to former president Donald Trump’s frequent allusions to armed revolution.
Read much more about this horrible situation at the WaPo. This is the atmosphere we are living in today, thanks to Trump’s influence on the Republican Party.
Trump’s followers are even attacking Republicans who fail to follow the party line in every instance. CNN: Republican congressman details threatening voicemail he received after voting for bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton on Monday shared a threatening voicemail he had received after voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week.
In the voicemail, which Upton played during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360,” a caller told the Michigan Republican: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your f**king family dies,” while labeling him a “f**king piece of sh*t traitor.”
Upton was one of just 13 House Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after hours of delays and debating among Democrats. The legislation, which passed the Senate in August, will deliver $550 billion in new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways.
Following the Friday vote, Upton tweeted in part, “I regret that this good, bipartisan bill became a political football in recent weeks. Our country can’t afford this partisan dysfunction any longer.” [….]
Upton’s office said the voicemail was not an isolated incident. The calls came after GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted the phone numbers of those who had voted for the bill and later called them traitors.
Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials.
In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept.
In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die.
“This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,” the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. “Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.”
The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats.
They were among nine people who told Reuters in interviews that they made threats or left other hostile messages to election workers. In all, they are responsible for nearly two dozen harassing communications to six election officials in four states. Seven made threats explicit enough to put a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or death, the U.S. federal standard for criminal prosecution, according to four legal experts who reviewed their messages at Reuters’ request.
These cases provide a unique perspective into how people with everyday jobs and lives have become radicalized to the point of terrorizing public officials. They are part of a broader campaign of fear waged against frontline workers of American democracy chronicled by Reuters this year. The news organization has documented nearly 800 intimidating messages to election officials in 12 states, including more than 100 that could warrant prosecution, according to legal experts.
The examination of the threats also highlights the paralysis of law enforcement in responding to this extraordinary assault on the nation’s electoral machinery. After Reuters reported the widespread intimidation in June, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a task force to investigate threats against election staff and said it would aggressively pursue such cases. But law enforcement agencies have made almost no arrests and won no convictions.
In many cases, they didn’t investigate. Some messages were too hard to trace, officials said. Other instances were complicated by America’s patchwork of state laws governing criminal threats, which provide varying levels of protection for free speech and make local officials in some states reluctant to prosecute such cases. Adding to the confusion, legal scholars say, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t formulated a clear definition of a criminal threat.
This is a long article, but it’s well worth reading the whole thing.
The hate is really out in the open now, and it seems to be getting worse. I thought it might get better once Trump was gone, but I was wrong. Please share your thoughts and links on this or any other topic in the comment thread.
Posted: May 13, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Andrew Glyde, Ashli Babbitt, Christopher Miller, Donald Trump, Garrett Miller, January 6 Capitol insurrection, Jeffrey Rosen, Liz Cheney, Michael Fanone, Paul Gosar, Republican lies
The Luncheon, Claude Monet
Yesterday the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Democrats tried to address the facts, and Republicans attempted to sell blatant lies and fantasies about what happened that day. Fromthe Associated Press:
Republicans sought to rewrite the history of the Jan. 6 insurrection during a rancorous congressional hearing Wednesday, painting the Trump supporters who attacked the building as mostly peaceful patriots and downplaying repeatedly the violence of the day.
Democrats, meanwhile, clashed with Donald Trump’s former Pentagon chief about the unprepared government response to a riot that began when hundreds of Trump loyalists bent on overturning the election broke through police barriers, smashed windows and laid siege to the building.
The colliding lines of questioning, and a failure to settle on a universally agreed-upon set of facts, underscored the challenges Congress faces as it sets out to investigate the violence and government missteps. The House Oversight Committee hearing unfolded just after Republicans in the chamber voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post for rebuking Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in inciting the attack.
Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, testifying publicly for the first time about Jan. 6, defended their agencies’ responses to the chaos. But the hearing almost immediately devolved into partisan bickering about how that day unfolded, with at least one Republican brazenly stating there wasn’t an insurrection at all….
Some fantastical claims by Republicans:
Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona played video footage of violence outside the federal courthouse in Portland last summer. Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia said that while “there were some rioters” on Jan. 6, it was a “bold-faced lie” to call it an insurrection and likened it in some ways to a “normal tourist visit.”
Apres le Dejunier, Berthe Morisot
In ways that fundamentally rewrote the facts of the day and the investigations that resulted, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said the Justice Department was “harassing peaceful patriots.” He described Ashli Babbit, a California woman who was fatally shot by an officer during the insurrection after climbing through the broken part of a door, as having been “executed,” even though prosecutors have said the officer won’t be prosecuted because the shooting did not break the law.
“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others,” said Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, downplaying the violent tactics used by loyalists to the president, including spraying officers with pepper and bear spray.
Raw Story on Paul Gosar of Arizona, who actually helped organize the January 6 rally: Trump-loving congressman Paul Gosar rants about MAGA rioter Ashli Babbitt being ‘executed’ by Capitol cops.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) on Wednesday delivered a rant in which he declared that Capitol police “executed” pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt.
During a hearing on the January 6th Capitol riots before the House Oversight Committee, Gosar angrily charged that opponents of former President Donald Trump were using “propaganda” to make the MAGA rioters seem worse than they really were.
He also accused Capitol police of using unnecessary force when one of them fatally shot Babbitt, who during the riots was trying to breach a set of doors that were just outside the House chamber where lawmakers were hiding in shelter on January 6th after the breach of the Capitol building.
Here’s a different take on the Ashli Babbitt story at Law and Crime: Capitol Rioter Wanted to Lynch Black Officer He Believed Shot Ashli Babbitt, Prosecutors Say.
A U.S. Capitol rioter from Texas who said that he brought a rope with him to Congress on Jan. 6 threatened days later to lynch a Black police officer that he believed fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, federal prosecutors wrote in a legal brief on Monday. The startling allegation surfaced in court papers against 34-year-old Garret Miller, whom prosecutors want to keep behind bars pending trial.
Drinking tea in the garden by Edit B. Toth
Babbitt was fatally shot when she and the other rioters tried to break into the Speaker’s Lobby, where lawmakers had taken cover.
According to prosecutors, Miller referred to Babbitt as his “sister in battle” and began to see himself as her avenger.
“He became consumed with her death and circulated photographs on Facebook of an African-American police officer that he believed was responsible for her death,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth C. Kelley wrote in a 16-page legal brief on Monday. “Miller threatened to kill that officer, stating that he wanted to ‘hug his neck with a nice rope’ and that ‘he will swing.’ He also said that the officer deserved to die and that ‘it’s huntin season.’”
“His fixation with hunting down and hanging a USCP officer is extremely concerning,” prosecutors added of Miller.
Now facing a 12-count indictment, Miller has been charged with assaulting police officers, threatening to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and several charges related to U.S. Capitol insurrection. Prosecutors say that Miller’s remarks were especially chilling in light of what authorities found in his house.
But Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde claimed the rioters looked like normal tourists. NBC News:
During a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Jan. 6 riot, Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said the House floor was not breached and that the supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol behaved “in an orderly fashion.” [….]
“As one of the members who stayed in the Capitol, and on the House floor, who with other Republican colleagues helped barricade the door until almost 3 p.m. from the mob who tried to enter, I can tell you the House floor was never breached and it was not an insurrection. This is the truth,” Clyde claimed….
“There was an undisciplined mob. There were some rioters, and some who committed acts of vandalism. But let me be clear, there was no insurrection and to call it an insurrection in my opinion, is a bold faced lie. Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol, and walk through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures, you know,” he continued.
“If you didn’t know that TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde said.
Paul Wonner, The Newspaper, 1960
Tell that to police officer Michael Fanone who was beaten by rioters and now suffers from PTSD. The Washington Post: Body-cam footage shows Capitol rioter celebrating as D.C. cop is beaten and Tasered: ‘I got one!’
Surrounded by rioters who had dragged him down the U.S. Capitol steps, beaten him and Tasered him, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone screamed in pain.
“I got one!” one of the rioters yelled triumphantly.
As the crowd pushed in, grabbing at his head, Fanone screamed again and then pleaded for help. “I got kids!” he yelled.
The intense scene plays out in body-camera footage of the attack broadcast by CNN on Wednesday evening, casting new light on Fanone’s struggle to escape a clash he later described as “the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life.” Fanone suffered a mild heart attack and a concussion in the melee.
Those don’t look like normal tourists to me.
Yesterday Republicans also excommunicated far right conservative Liz Cheney for telling the truth about what happened on January 6, including Trump’s culpability for the riot.
CNN: Takeaways from a day of congressional Republicans embracing Trump and downplaying the US Capitol riot.
Read more details from the hearing at the link.
Hayes Brown at MSNBC: GOP lies about Jan. 6 are getting bolder — and more dangerous.
Four months ago, the U.S. Capitol was overrun. Lawmakers fled their chambers as the mob surged past police lines. Many feared for their lives as former President Donald Trump did nothing to halt the rioters’ march through the building in his name.
Since then, we’ve seen a shift in tone from Republicans who were there that day. I’ve argued that the GOP is taking advantage of Trump’s social media silencing to work undistracted on making the next election easier to overturn.
But it’s becoming clear to me that it’s worse than that. Some members of Congress are getting bolder in their defense of Trump’s actions before and after the election. They aren’t just denying that Trump incited a mob as they rewrite election laws: They’re denying that the mob was ever a threat at all, justifying the violence of that day.
A hearing on Wednesday in the House Oversight and Reform Committee was meant to get some answers to the many questions about what was going on inside the Trump administration on Jan. 6 as the mob tried to stop the count of electoral votes. Unfortunately, the star witnesses of the day, former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, were less informative than hoped. Miller in particular walked back his written testimony during his opening statement, refusing to say Trump had incited the protesters that day.
That wasn’t the worst rewrite of history at the hearing, though. That dubious honor goes to Republicans on the panel. In their telling, what happened on Jan. 6 was just some Trump supporters taking an unscheduled walk through the halls of Congress and the Capitol Police overreacting.
One more from Richard Wolffe at The Guardian: The point of the Republican party? To stroke the ego of Trump.
What is the point of the Republican party?
This isn’t a flip question. It’s one prompted by the last four months of grappling with the fallout of the bloody insurrection on Capitol Hill, and by the last four years of grappling with the fallout of installing a fascist in the White House.
Lunch in the Garden, Henri Lebasque
So, for real: what does the GOP stand for? Apart from trying to seize back power, what does it want to do?
The answer, as Liz Cheney has learned, is to pander to the ego of a single Florida resident who has no obvious or coherent political purpose.
This might just explain why the party has been struggling so hard to respond to the last four months of the most tenuous Democratic control in Washington.
The Biden team has not commanded the nation’s capital from a position of strength because of LBJ-like powers of persuasion, Democratic unity or structural majorities. They have succeeded because Republicans sorely lack – as George HW Bush used to put it – the vision thing….
There was a time, not so long ago, when the GOP stood for small government, or big business, or at least big churches, or sometimes the little guy. They were for standing up to foreign enemies and domestic taxes….
After four years of Donald Trump, that is no longer the world we’re living in. To be fair, three decades’ worth of upheaval – the colossal failures of the war on terror, the financial crisis, a historic pandemic, the climate crisis and a technological revolution – may have made matters worse.
But here we are nonetheless at a point where the Grand Old Party has shrunk into a small old cult of personality, willing to twist and turn to the whims of its sociopathic former leader.
Consistency meant nothing inside the cult. More billions of spending on a nonsensical border wall? The deficit hawks said no problem. More bullying business leaders by presidential tweet? The capitalist caucus said bring it on. More cozying up to the leaders of Russia, China and even North Korea? The defense hawks thought that sounded fine. Paying off porn stars with campaign dollars? The party of family values barely blushed.
Each one of these big and small sellouts brought the party to the point where it fired Liz Cheney from the House leadership on Tuesday for stating the obvious: Trump lost the election last year and stoked an insurrection to save face.
The only solution to this battle between reality and fantasy is an independent commission to investigation the insurrection writes Kate Brannen at Just Security: Getting to the Bottom of Jan. 6 Is Proving Too Difficult for Congress.
If Wednesday’s House hearing on “unanswered questions” about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was good for anything, it showed why an independent commission is needed to investigate what happened that day.
Tea in the Garden, Henri Matisse, 1919
It was the first time that former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified about the decisions and actions they took. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee also testified, but his actions are under far less scrutiny because his police officers responded immediately and essentially saved the day. He had also already testified about these matters in the Senate.
Despite this opportunity to question Miller and Rosen (and the important questions they could have been asked), members of the House Oversight Committee elicited little new information. Instead, precious time was wasted with grandstanding and aggressive posturing on both sides. Whether it’s Democrats admonishing the witnesses before they have a chance to speak or, worse yet, Republicans flooding the zone with disinformation, it’s increasingly clear that Congress is not up to the task of investigating the events of that day.
That’s a shame, because when it comes to Jan. 6, there are essentially two security failures that demand accountability (not to mention the role played by former President Donald Trump): the failure to prepare and understand the signals of what was coming and a failure to quickly get federal forces to respond once it was underway. The Department of Justice and the FBI bear some responsibility for the first failure, which left the U.S. government flat-footed when the attack began. The Defense Department, which Miller oversaw, was responsible for fielding requests for support from the D.C. National Guard and then authorizing its deployment, and so, is at the center of responsibility for the second failure.
Click the link to read the rest.
Is there any way to get past the GOP lies and obfuscation? Is an independent investigation possible? I hope so.
As always, this is an open thread.