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Archives for Politics (page 2 / 43)

Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal

It wasn’t antifa at the capitol. It was Trump’s supporters.

Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal

Alec MacGillis, writing for Pro Publica.

“Clearly, there’s millions of people in town today. There’s people packed like sardines from the White House to the Washington Monument today. For the first time as far I’m aware in history, they broke the perimeters at the Capitol. I mean, they’re pissed. I’m not keen on violence and breaking doors. But outside of that, there seemed to be no violence, and after hearing all summer long about city after city getting burned down, this was a mostly peaceful protest. This was what a mostly peaceful protest looks like.”

He didn’t appear to know about the deaths and extent of the violence. He had only his vantage point. But we now have many more vantages. And they give us the picture of what happens when something that was gathering across the land for years, and recklessly and cynically fomented by those who knew better, reached a culmination. There undoubtedly were some dangerous organized elements within the mob that attacked the Capitol. But what is scariest about these videos is that they show the damage that can be done by a crowd of unorganized Americans goaded and abetted by the leaders of an organized political party. The radical fringe is a cause for concern. The thousands of regular people whipped into a murderous rage is the real nightmare.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

There’s Video of Christian Terrorists Praying to God Inside the U.S. Capitol

More evidence that something is deeply, deeply wrong inside of American Christianity. These insurrectionists saw no conflict between their faith and their violent attack on the nation’s government.

There’s Video of Christian Terrorists Praying to God Inside the U.S. Capitol

Hemant Mehta, writing at Friendly Atheist.

These aren’t just terrorists. They’re Christian terrorists. The prayer they recited was one that wouldn’t be out of place at evangelical churches across the country.

I know this comparison isn’t new, but if Muslims invaded the Capitol and said a prayer in the name of their God, we know exactly what Christians would say about it, and we know exactly how right-wing media would cover it.

The 80% of white evangelicals voters who supported Trump for two elections have created an environment where terrorism in the name of their faith isn’t seen as hypocritical or out of place by the most fervent believers. It’s not that all evangelicals condone the actions of the men inside the chamber. It’s that their churches haven’t done enough to dissuade believers from supporting right-wing conspiracies and blatant lies and conservative cruelty — to the point where even outright terrorism is seen as perfectly in line with how these believers view God.

When pastors play into culture war rhetoric, act like Christians are constantly persecuted, and lie to their congregations about how the sky is falling when liberals have any kind of power, they can’t pretend like this scene is shocking.

It’s not surprising at all. There’s a reason so many Christian symbols were seen during the riot.

A bunch of Christians were among the terrorists. They believe God was on their side. Unless evangelical pastors address the beliefs they hold and the rhetoric they use — because that creates a foundation for terrorism like this to thrive — it’s not going to stop.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Jesus and John Wayne

Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone

We must be up front about calling lies lies and not pretending that there are two sides to every story. If the two sides are “truth” and “lie” or “truth” and “debunked conspiracy theory”, then there’s really only one side to the story.

Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone

Margaret Sullivan, writing for The Washington Post.

His administration is down to its last hours, but you can bet that the false belief held by millions of Americans that the election was rigged is not going away when President Trump does.

Journalists, if they take their core mission seriously, should think hard about how they’re going to confront this Big Lie, as it’s become known.

Our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted — “to create a public square with a common set of facts,” as Tom Rosenstiel, an author and the executive director of the Virginia-based American Press Institute, put it.

But how? Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered.

Stop relying on shorthand.

Too often, even the most credible journalists who are trying to cover the disastrous effects of the Big Lie explain it by sprinkling phrases into their reporting like “baseless claims” or “without evidence” — and seem to expect them to do all the work.

But that’s simply ineffective. “People don’t notice this boilerplate language after a while,” Rosenstiel said, “or even begin to bristle at it.”

What’s the alternative? Journalists should take the time — even in an ordinary news story or brief broadcast segment — to be more specific. Let’s offer a few sentences that give detail on why the claims are baseless and how they’ve been debunked.

The second paragraph of this January national security report in The Washington Post does just that: “By mid-December, President Trump’s fraudulent claims of a rigged election were failing in humiliating fashion. Lawsuits were being laughed out of courts. State officials, including Republicans, were refusing to bend to his will and alter the vote. And in a seemingly decisive blow on Dec. 14, the electoral college certified the win for Joe Biden.”

That’s far better than a mere nod to “baseless claims.” As Rosenstiel put it: “Engage in verification and explanation, not labeling.”

Use an honesty litmus test.

Journalists long ago made a virtue of getting input from both sides of an issue. It’s generally a healthy practice, but it also became a crutch. And when one side consistently engages in bad-faith falsehoods, it’s downright destructive to give them equal time.

Joe Lockhart, President Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, offers an extreme example: “If I went on the air and said the Holocaust didn’t happen, the interview would end right there.”

We must stop calling Trump’s enablers ‘conservative.’ They are the radical right.

Similarly, the election-fraud lie — which was the foundation for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — shouldn’t be given a huge megaphone either. But you can expect some Republican members of Congress will trot this out during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Lockhart warned. He argues that news organizations should think hard before allowing these claims to be broadcast live and at length.

“It’s no longer a case of no harm, no foul,” Lockhart told me. We know what damage has come from helping the Big Lie to spread.

The NYU professor and press critic Jay Rosen put it memorably: “In the same way that you might begin an interview with a pro forma, ‘this is on the record,’ or ‘how do you spell your name?’ journalists (and talk show bookers) should set the ground rules with, ‘Very quickly before we start: who was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election?’ ” If the answer is “we need to investigate that” or “President Trump,” simply withdraw the opportunity.

In the bad-faith political world we live in, these kinds of sound policies will be branded as liberal bias and a free-speech violation. Not so.

“This isn’t a cancel culture,” Christopher Krebs, whom Trump fired as head of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told CNN last week in arguing why it’s essential to shoot down harmful false claims as he did. “There has to be an accountability culture in the United States right now.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Republicans

New poll shows Trump’s GOP has an ugly authoritarian core

Donald Trump’s voters believe lies, oppose democracy, and support the man, not the platform or the party. This is why I’m a former Republican.

New poll shows Trump’s GOP has an ugly authoritarian core

On questions that probe underlying attitudes about Trump’s efforts to undermine democracy, the contrast between the broader public and Republican respondents is stark. Here’s a rundown:

  • By 66 percent to 30 percent, Americans overall say Trump acted irresponsibly in his statements and actions since the election. But Republicans say Trump acted responsibly by 66 percent to 29 percent.
  • By 62 percent to 31 percent, Americans say there’s no solid evidence of the claims of voter fraud that Trump cited to refuse to accept Joe Biden’s victory. But Republicans say there is solid evidence of fraud by 65 percent to 25 percent.
  • 57 percent of Americans say Trump bears a great deal or good amount of responsibility for the assault on the Capitol. But 56 percent of Republicans say Trump bears no responsibility at all, and another 22 percent say he bears just some, totaling 78 percent who largely exonerate him.
  • 52 percent of Americans say Republican leaders went too far in supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. But 51 percent of Republicans say GOP leaders didn’t go far enough, while 27 percent say they got it right, a total of 78 percent who are fully on board or wanted more. Only 16 percent of Republicans say they went too far.

On these questions, independents are far more in sync with the broader public: In this poll, support for what Trump did is largely a Republican phenomenon.

Meanwhile, solid majorities of Americans believe Trump should be charged with a crime for inciting the riot (54 percent) and removed from office (56 percent). But among Republicans, opposition to both is running in the mid-80s, demonstrating extraordinary GOP unity against any form of accountability.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Republicans

There is no COVID vaccine reserve. Trump admin already shipped it

The incompetence of the Trump administration continually surprises me. They’re constantly finding new depths to break through. This is, apparently, what happens when major cabinet departments are left leaderless and the President is more interested in overturning an election than in doing the governing that he was originally elected to do. I thank God that it’s only 5 more days until we get a new President and a new leadership team.

There is no COVID vaccine reserve. Trump admin already shipped it | Ars Technica

The Trump administration announced Tuesday, January 12, that it would begin shipping reserved vaccine supplies, raising hopes that states may see their vaccine supply potentially double as they work to accelerate the sluggish immunization campaign. But according to a report by The Washington Post, that promised vaccine stockpile doesn’t actually exist—it was already shipped out—and the limited vaccine supply available to states will remain as it is for now.

The news has not only left state health officials angry and confused by the false promises, they’re also left scrambling to sort out distribution changes. In addition to claiming they would release the (non-existent) stockpile, Trump administration officials told states to expand access to vaccines—now allowing anyone over age 65 to get vaccinated and people under 65 who have a documented underlying health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

… Amid the chaos, the Trump administration isn’t offering clear answers on what happened or why officials misled states. According to the Post’s reporting, the Trump administration stopped reserving second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of last year, and the last reserves of Moderna’s vaccine supply were shipped out over the past weekend.

There was no stockpile to release on Tuesday when the Health and Human Services secretary said at a press briefing that "because we now have a consistent pace of production, we can now ship all of the doses that had been held in physical reserve.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump

How the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close to Pence

The rioters weren’t just making a statement. They were out for blood and they were looking for Donald Trump’s enemies.

How the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close to Pence

Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnin, Paul Kane, and Emma Brown, reporting for The Washington Post.

The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day.

Secret Service officers eventually spirited Pence to a room off the Senate floor with his wife and daughter after rioters began to pour into the Capitol, many loudly denouncing the vice president as a traitor as they marched through the first floor below the Senate chamber.

About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate.

Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office.

Pence was ultimately evacuated from his office off the Senate floor to a more secure location elsewhere in the Capitol complex. It is unclear exactly how long that took. But as the vice president made his way through the building, a growing number of rioters were joining their cohorts and coursing through the Capitol’s labyrinthine halls.

Once inside, they used pipes, flagpoles and other weapons to shatter windows and break furniture. One police officer later died of injuries sustained during the onslaught. Dozens of officers were wounded, including some who were struck with a fire extinguisher and another who was dragged down a set of steps and attacked by the crowd.

Many of those in the mob had their sights on Pence — enraged that he had refused President Trump’s demand that he head off the electoral college count that formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

According to the FBI, one man who was charged this week with trespassing and disorderly conduct after making his way into the Senate chamber said in a YouTube video: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob.”

At one point, a group of rioters began chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they streamed into the main door on the east side of the Capitol.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

Donald Trump Impeachment: Case for Conviction & Disqualification

We need to make a clear statement that this attack on the capitol was inexcusable and must never happen again. The President takes an oath to defend the Constitution. He did not.

Donald Trump Impeachment: Case for Conviction & Disqualification

Dan McLaughlin, writing for National Review.

It is the proud boast of the United States of America that we have the oldest continuous constitutional government in the world, in which nothing — not terrorists attacks, not depressions, not pandemics, not hurricanes, not foreign wars, not the burning of our capital by invaders, not even civil war — has stopped our government of laws or impeded the timely, peaceful transfer of power between opposing political parties and candidates. The Capitol riot on January 6, given its timing around the pivotal constitutional process of counting electoral votes to effectuate such a transition, took direct aim at that central pillar of our American system. It emboldened the foes of democracy, republicanism, and constitutionalism around the globe who have long been shamed by our example.

There must be grave consequences for that. And as is true whenever society as a whole is threatened by such an outrage, those consequences must be sufficiently spectacular to deter any repetition so long as our national memory endures. Those who participated directly must be punished relentlessly to the maximum extent of federal law, without cease or mercy. And they should be confronted with vivid evidence that their cause failed utterly and permanently. The riot was inspired by Trump, and carried out by a faction of his supporters. Imposing consequences on Trump himself, and barring him from ever again holding federal office, will accomplish that end. In a less squeamish time, both Trump and the rioters would justly have had their heads mounted on pikes outside the Capitol as a warning to all.

What would George Washington do? What would Abraham Lincoln do? What would William Tecumseh Sherman do? What would Calvin Coolidge do? What would Harry Truman do? What would Ronald Reagan do? The making of harsh and unforgiving examples has always been the American way of ensuring that some outrages are never repeated. Harsh example for deterrent effect was the theory of Trump’s own policy to prevent crossings of the Mexican border, even when the harshness fell on innocent children. He should be prepared to take that medicine now himself.

Is it unfair to punish Trump, who did not personally participate in the riot, and who did not explicitly call for violence? Hardly. As I have detailed previously, when you take in the entirety of Trump’s speech and its context, he bears moral and political responsibility for inspiring the Capitol riot, and for putting a target on Mike Pence’s back. True, Trump’s conduct falls just shy of the narrow legal definition of inciting riot or rebellion. True, it is becoming increasingly clear that some of the forces he summoned to Washington on January 6 came prepared for violence in advance, and commenced it even before he was done speaking. But leadership entails responsibility, not pettifogging efforts to backtrack after things you set in motion, and have nurtured for two months, have gotten out of hand. There comes a time when the man at the top must be the man who accepts the blame.

Trump’s behavior on January 6 was extraordinarily reckless. It had foreseeable and horrendous consequences. And it did not happen in a vacuum. It was the culmination of two months of lies, conspiracy theories, increasingly vexatious litigation, efforts to pressure state legislatures and elections officials his way, open pressure on the vice president to disregard settled federal law, and baseless volcanic rhetorical blasts at the integrity of the entire American system. Many of those actions were not, by themselves, impeachable acts; but taken together, they constitute a massively irresponsible violation of Trump’s oath of office. They form the backdrop for why he should be held politically accountable for the riot and siege at the Capitol. Anyone reading these events in a history book, uninvested in the individual participants, would recognize this.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Impeachment

D.C. police detail their fight to defend the Capitol against pro-Trump mob

This attack was so much worse than it looked on TV. And this was done by the same crowd that claims that Blue Lives Matter to them. It sounds like the only thing that really matters is getting their own way.

D.C. police detail their fight to defend the Capitol against pro-Trump mob

Peter Hermann, reporting for The Washington Post.

The officers at the West Terrace eventually pushed people away from the doors. It was only then that Fanone saw the immense, volatile crowd stretched out in front of him and realized what police were up against.

“We weren’t battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel,” he said in the first public account from D.C. police officers who fought to protect the Capitol during last week’s siege. “We were battling 15,000 people. It looked like a medieval battle scene.”

Someone in the crowd grabbed Fanone’s helmet, pulled him to the ground and dragged him on his stomach down a set of steps. At around the same time, police said, the crowd pulled a second officer down the stairs. Police said that chaotic and violent scene was captured in a video that would later spread widely on the Internet.

Rioters swarmed, battering the officers with metal pipes peeled from scaffolding and a pole with an American flag attached, police said. Both were struck with stun guns. Fanone suffered a mild heart attack and drifted in and out of consciousness.

All the while, the mob was chanting “U.S.A.” over and over and over again.

“We got one! We got one!” Fanone said he heard rioters shout. “Kill him with his own gun!”

Looking over the chaotic scene in front of him from the Capitol steps, Glover grew concerned as the battle raged. There were people caught up in the moment, he said, doing things they would not ordinarily do. But many appeared to be on a mission, and they launched what he and the police chief described as a coordinated assault.

“Everything they did was in a military fashion,” Glover said, saying he witnessed rioters apparently using hand signs and waving flags to signal positions, and using what he described as “military formations.” They took high positions and talked over wireless communications.

Authorities would later learn that some former members of the military and off-duty police officers from across the country were in the pro-Trump crowd. Glover called it disturbing that off-duty police “would knowingly and intentionally come to the United States Capitol and engage in this riotous and criminal behavior against their brothers and sisters in uniform, who are upholding their oaths of office.”

D.C. officer Daniel Hodges, assigned to a civil-disturbance unit, entered the Capitol grounds with the riot well underway. He was quickly separated from colleagues, and someone in the mob grabbed his radio.

The 32-year-old waded through the hostile crowd, only to be knocked down. Someone tried to gouge his eyes and others piled on top of him before a fellow officer wrested him free. He reached the Capitol and got inside. With no assignment and no way to find his supervisor, he went “looking for work.”

He found it at the West Terrace doors.

He had a gas mask and put it on, then worked his way to the front of the police line. He tried to hold the rioters back “as best I could,” he said.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Hodges got caught between the interior glass doors, sandwiched by rioters pushing forward and by police behind him pushing the other way. His arms were trapped, then his head, on the rioter’s side.

“I really couldn’t defend myself at that point,” he said.

A rioter grabbed his gas mask from the bottom and shoved upward, tearing it off his helmet. Another took his baton “and started beating me in the head with it.” He took face-fulls of bear spray with no way to shield himself, and a video captured his agonizing groans and twisted face as the assault continued before he was finally freed and pulled back.

“The zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal,” said Hodges, who suffered from a severe headache but otherwise emerged unhurt. “There were points where I thought it was possible I could either die or become seriously disfigured.”

Still, Hodges said, he did not want to turn to his gun.

“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns — we had been seizing guns all day,” he said. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

We Knew

We Knew

Paul Miller, writing for The Dispatch.

We knew, and many of us warned, that Trump was a demagogue with no sense of constraint and no respect for the Constitution, who was enamored of violence and prone to norm-breaking, who had a weirdly regular habit of expressing his public admiration for dictators and tyrants, and whose ignorance of and disrespect for American democracy was unprecedented in the history of the republic. That we knew matters because it means Trump’s defenders cannot plead ignorance, and it places a higher burden on them to reexamine what they got wrong and the role they played in bringing us to this point.

A tiny sample of forewarnings about Trump would start with Peter Wehner’s op-ed, “Why I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump,” published five years ago this week. Wehner, who worked in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations, wrote that “Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe.” Wehner further warned that Trump is “a demagogic figure who does not view himself as part of our constitutional system but rather as an alternative to it.” If there were a prize for prescient political commentary, Wehner would retire the trophy.

In February 2016, _National Review _devoted an entire issue to explaining why Trump was the wrong choice, with writer after writer arguing that he did not respect conservative or Christian principles and might not respect democratic ones either. The same month I joined a rising chorus of voices—many of them conservative—warning that Trump showed uncomfortable parallels to outright fascism. I wrote:

He is an autocrat in democrat’s clothing, a tyrant in the wings, a bully who admires the “strength” of tyrants and butchers, who finds a free press to be an inconvenience that he intends to tame with legal force once elected, a man who demonizes opponents and romanticizes violence, especially against minorities, who pines for the day when government could have its way with people without the trouble of constitutional law getting in the way.

A month later, dozens of Republican national security leaders (including me) signed an open letter warning that Trump was “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.” We warned of his dishonesty and admiration for tyrants. And we concluded that “his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.” The same month Mitt Romney delivered a famous stemwinder of a speech denouncing Trump and warning against him. In May 2016, Andrew Sullivan wondered if America was ripe for tyranny. Months after Trump’s inauguration, David Frum warned how Trump could bring autocracy to America.

We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

It wasn’t antifa. It was us. White, middle-class, evangelical Christian Americans.

We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

Jack Shafer, opining for Politico.

we’ve learned that many who rallied or rioted on January 6 were, in Trump’s memorable 2016 phrase, only “the best and most serious people.” Take, for example, Bradley Rukstales, a tech CEO in suburban Chicago who faces charges of illegally entering the Capitol “with the intent of and impeding government business” or others arrested on similar charges: retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr; Republican state legislator Derrick Evans (who live-streamed his storming of the Capitol Building); Aaron Mostofksy, the son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge; Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller; and former Midland, Texas, mayoral candidate Jenny Cudd, who said in one video, “We did break down Nancy Pelosi’s office door.” Cudd was arrested Wednesday for her role in the Capitol rumble.

Then there are the ranks of those who haven’t been charged: a Seattle doctor, who appeared in a video recounting her storming of the Capitol. A former Republican state representative, who resigned his adjunct professor position at a college after posting a video of the melee outside the Capitol, as KDKA reported. A California physician (and vaccine critic), who read a speech inside the Capitol, and her communications director. A Texas attorney, alleged by the Houston Chronicle _to have posted video from inside the Capitol, got sacked by his bosses for his “activism.” A housing entrepreneur, who was arrested for violating the curfew. An unnamed Pennsylvania teacher who was reportedly suspended for his role in the unrest, as the _Morning Call reported. A retired SEAL, who bragged about “breaching” the Capitol. A Chicago real estate agent, who posted selfies from the crowd outside the Capitol on Facebook and was fired, in turn, by her bosses. Then there was an active-duty U.S. Army officer who led a group to the rally, making herself the subject of an Army probe, according to CBS News. Police departments in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions have opened investigations into whether any of their officers participated in the rebellion, as have some fire departments. And finally, let’s not forget Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force vet and QAnon devotee who was shot dead as she tried to vault through a just-broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the House chamber.

It would, of course, amount to an overcorrection if we attempted to characterize the riot as a middle-class insurgency. But many of the protesters who filled Washington’s 17 Hilton hotels to capacity and made the Grand Hyatt’s lobby their after-action lounge did not come from Dogpatch. Many hail from the Republican professional and political classes, and they fueled the rampage with their organizational skills and reputations just as much as the face-paint guy did with his horns, fur, a U.S. flag mounted on a spear, and tattoos. Some of the criminal interlopers will argue that they only invaded the Capitol to exercise their First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But that doesn’t fly. Nowhere does the First Amendment empower citizens to bull their way through a line of police—causing murderous injury to one—shatter windows and break doors, make violent threats and disrupt Congress. Nor does anybody have a right to stride into the Capitol behind the mob as long as they don’t break anything. The masses who coursed through the Capitol grand rooms and hallways clearly broke the law, and their overwhelming numbers abetted the rioters who spearheaded the attack.

Yes, there was plenty of class resentment at play at the Capitol and lots of overt racism, but we can’t assume that this was just a revolution by the powerless, the pathetic and the rural. The most shocking thing about the attack on the Capitol was that so many of the rioters were people who better resemble our kin and neighbors than they do the so-called barbarians from the boondocks.

The point here isn’t to sympathize with the rioters, or even seek to “understand” them, but to see them as they are and to prepare ourselves for future confrontations. How are we to deal with them as a country? I want to believe the intruders who now say they regret their actions of January 6. That’s exactly the sort of response you would hope to hear from an otherwise lawful American. But for every such apology we can be certain at least one person—and likely more—has been radicalized, maybe irreversibly, by the events. There are no easy ways to quell this national rebellion, a rebellion that appears to be gaining velocity, but the first step has got to be organizing a political taxonomy that doesn’t marginalize them as aliens. Instead of thinking of the rioters as “them,” try thinking of them as “us.” It’s bound to make you uncomfortable, but at least it’s a start.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Jesus and John Wayne Republicans

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Republicans can either be a party that participates in American democracy or they can be the party of Mr. Trump. They can’t be both.

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Greg Sargent, opining in the The Washington Post.

Alarming new details are emerging about the true nature of the violent insurrection that we witnessed last week — and the critical point about this insurrection is that it is ongoing.

This raises the stakes on what we’re seeing from many Republicans, who are working to obscure the true source of this ongoing threat. By piously calling for “unity,” and claiming impeachment will “divide” us, they are striving to manufacture the impression that the cause of our ongoing breakdown is some species of generalized division.

In fact, it’s a straight cause-and-effect: One side (Trump and his democracy-despising enablers who are still trying to illegitimately overturn the election’s outcome) is threatening and inciting violence against the other (those who stand for constitutional democracy and are affirming the legitimacy of that outcome).

This has now been crystallized by none other than a senior Republican congressional staffer. Politico reports that Jason Schmid has resigned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a blistering letter attacking his party’s efforts to overturn the election.

Schmid argued in his letter that Republicans had failed to sufficiently condemn the insurrection. I want to highlight this:

The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States. A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so called “patriots” to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government.

GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the election, Schmid charged, “harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests.”

What’s important here is the unflinching acknowledgment of two things: First, the claim by Trump and his enablers that he won is a deranged lie and anyone telling it is an enemy of U.S. constitutional democracy. Second, this lie is what incited the violent siege of the Capitol.

That is what many Republicans will not say, and it’s why this letter is important news.

… Trump is enforcing this line among Republicans. He told reporters on Tuesday that “I want no violence” and that Democrats pursuing impeachment are “causing tremendous anger.”

There’s that veiled threat again — Hold me accountable for inciting violence and you’ll meet more violence! — but it’s also a command to Republicans: Keep denying that I’m the chief instigator of the violence, and keep claiming the real threat of incitement comes from Democrats.

… Making this worse, as Simon Rosenberg points out, countless elected GOP officials are already on record having propped up these lies for months. The only way to reverse this is to flatly and unequivocally declare that those were lies and that Biden legitimately won:

I would add that Republicans must also say unequivocally that this lie caused last week’s violence, and that it threatens untold more to come.

Republican calls for “unity” are conditional: Unity can only be premised on a blanket agreement not to acknowledge the truth about who and what are actually to blame for violently tearing the country in half. Until Republicans tell the truth about all of this, their professed hopes for unity are empty nonsense, to be treated with derisive contempt.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Impeachment Republicans

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

There is something tragically wrong with White American evangelical Christianity. How else do you explain a multitude of Christian symbols during the attack on our nation’s capitol and the democratic process?

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

Jack Jenkins, writing for Religion News.

As throngs surged toward a barricade manned by a vastly outnumbered handful of police, a white flag appeared above the masses, flapping in the wind: It featured an ichthys — also known as a “Jesus fish” — painted with the colors of the American flag.

Above the symbol, the words: “Proud American Christian.”

It was one of several prominent examples of religious expression that occurred in and around the storming of the Capitol last week, which left five people dead — including a police officer. Before and even during the attack, insurrectionists appealed to faith as both a source of strength as well as justification for their assault on the seat of American democracy.

While not all participants were Christian, their rhetoric often reflected an aggressive, charismatic and hypermasculine form of Christian nationalism — a fusion of God and country that has lashed together disparate pieces of Donald Trump’s religious base.

“A mistake a lot of people have made over the past few years … is to suggest there is some fundamental conflict between evangelicalism and the kind of violence or threat of violence we’re seeing,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a history professor at Calvin University and author of “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”

“For decades now, evangelical devotional life, evangelical preaching and evangelical teaching has found a space to promote this kind of militancy.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Christianity Jesus and John Wayne

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

Wheaton College steps up and calls out White Christian Nationalism.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian.

McCarthy Grows a Sliver of a Spine

Axios Sneak Peek for January 11

“Sneak Peek”, anchored by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba.

President Trump today privately — and falsely — blamed "Antifa people" for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

Why it matters: Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies.

Behind the scenes: In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with [Republican] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line.

  • McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there," according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call.
  • The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

The Roman Road From Insurrection

This entire newsletter is a forceful Christian response—a proper one, for once—to the insurrection that Trump’s supporters committed last Wednesday.

The Roman Road From Insurrection

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), writing the “Moore to the Point Newsletter”, for January 11.

The governing authorities do not have a choice as to whether or not to hold people accountable for inciting and carrying out insurrection. To do otherwise would be to cease to be a just society, and to empower future evildoers to do the same. Everyone who attacked our Capitol or planned or directed such a storming of the Capitol, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You will hear people saying that for the sake of “unity” we should quietly put such things away. God forbid. The unity of the people cannot come with a lack of accountability. The police do not have the option to ignore these mobs. The Congress does not have the option to ignore their constitutional obligations on high crimes and misdemeanors. The Vice President and the Cabinet cannot put aside questions of their responsibilities for fear of their futures. To hope that this all will just quietly go away and resolve itself is to incite future terrorists and is to do exactly what the Bible forbids—to “justify the wicked and to condemn the righteous” (Prov. 17:15).

Unity demands accountability. Justice demands accountability. Without such, all we are left with is “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19).

You don’t have to agree with me. I might be wrong. I don’t speak for anyone else, only myself. But you deserve to hear from me what I honestly think. If I were the President, I would resign. If I were the Vice President, I would assemble the cabinet in accordance with the 25th Amendment. If I were a Member of Congress, I would vote to impeach. And if I were a United States senator, I would vote to convict. And I would be willing, if necessary, to lose my seat to do so. As a matter of fact, I am willing, if necessary, to lose this seat.

Again, I might be wrong. But, if so, propose what can be done to make sure that justice is done and that this never happens to our country again.

Is that easy? No. Will people say you’re a “closet liberal.” Yes. Will people threaten “psychological warfare” or conduct endless investigations against you? Maybe. Will people send threats to kill you and your family or to destroy your reputation and ministry? Perhaps.

You can survive all that. Trust me.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

By Michael Biesecker, Michael Kunzelman, Gillian Flaccus and Jim Mustian, for the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless amid the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

The evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president.

“If the reports are true,” Gaetz said on the House floor just hours after the attack, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters that investigators had seen “no indication” antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

The AP found that many of the rioters had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy. Several had openly threatened violence against Democrats and Republicans they considered insufficiently loyal to the president. During the riot, some livestreamed and posted photos of themselves at the Capitol. Afterwards, many bragged about what they had done.

As the mob smashed through doors and windows to invade the Capitol, a loud chant went up calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, the recent target of a Trump Twitter tirade for not subverting the Constitution and overturning the legitimate vote tally. Outside, a wooden scaffold had been erected on the National Mall, a rope noose dangling at the ready.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There were also current and former members of the U.S. military in the crowd.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas was charged in federal court on Sunday after he was identified in photos showing him standing in the well of the Senate, wearing a military-style helmet and body armor while holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs.

The insurrectionist mob also included members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys, whom Trump urged to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator during a presidential debate in September.

Nicholas R. Ochs, 34, was arrested Saturday after returning home to Hawaii, where he is the founder of the local Proud Boys chapter. On Wednesday, Ochs posted a photo of himself on Twitter inside the Capitol, grinning broadly and smoking a cigarette. According to court filings, the FBI matched photos of Ochs taken during the riot to photos taken when Ochs campaigned unsuccessfully last year as the Republican nominee for a seat in the Hawaii statehouse.

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Monday in Washington on weapons charges and ordered to stay out of the nation’s capital. Tarrio is accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church last month.

The FBI has opened a murder probe into the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly. He died at a hospital.

The Trump supporters who died in the riot were Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

Boyland’s sister told the AP on Friday she was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that holds Trump is America’s savior. Her Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections. Boyland’s final post on Twitter — a retweet of a post by White House social media director Dan Scavino — was a picture of thousands of people surrounding the Washington Monument on Wednesday.

“She would text me some things, and I would be like, ‘Let me fact-check that.’ And I’d sit there and I’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s actually right,’” Lonna Cave, Boyland’s sister, said. “We got in fights about it, arguments.”

The AP’s review found that QAnon beliefs were common among those who heeded Trump’s call to come to Washington.

Doug Jensen, 41, was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, after returning home from the riot. An AP photographer captured images of him confronting Capitol Police officers outside of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.

Jensen was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large Q and the phrase “Trust The Plan,” a reference to QAnon. Video posted online during the storming of the Capitol also appears to show Jensen, who is white, pursuing a Black police officer up an interior flight of stairs as a mob of people trails several steps behind. At several points, the officer says “get back,” but to no avail.

Jensen’s older brother, William Routh, told the AP on Saturday that Jensen believed that the person posting as Q was either Trump or someone very close to the president.

“I feel like he had a lot of influence from the internet that confused or obscured his views on certain things,” said Routh, of Clarksville, Arkansas, who described himself as a Republican Trump supporter. “When I talked to him, he thought that maybe this was Trump telling him what to do.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol - The Dispatch

Alec Dent, writing for The Dispatch. (A conservative publication, although not a pro-Trump one.)

While it is, of course, possible that a crowd of tens of thousands of individuals included troublemakers with ties to Antifa or other left-wing groups, there is no evidence to suggest that Antifa members were among those who stormed the Capitol. There is, however, an abundance of evidence demonstrating that Trump-supporting radicals participated in the siege. A number of pro-Trump accounts livestreamed the attack on Congress on social media platforms, including prominent far-right figures Nick Fuentes and Tim Gionet (better known as “Baked Alaska”) who livestreamed themselves breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Derrick Evans, a Republican member of West Virginia’s legislature, broadcast himself breaching the Capitol. A Proud Boy “elder” was among many who shared a selfie from Congress on social media.

Other people who participated in the attack on Congress have been identified as well. Noted QAnon and Trump supporter Jake Angeli drew lots of attention with his face paint and horned hat. Kristina Malimon, a Turning Point USA ambassador who gained notoriety for organizing a Trump boat parade that sank a non-participating boat, was arrested along with her mother for unlawful entry due to her alleged participation in the storming of the Capitol. Ashli Babbitt, who died after being shot while breaking through a window in the Capitol, was an ardent QAnon believer and Trump supporter. Many others openly identified themselves to reporters, such as Richard Barnett, who bragged about a letter from Nancy Pelosi’s office. Barnett is a member of the pro-Trump group 2A NWA Stand and has posted white nationalist comments on social media. A number of participants were identified after sharing videos and pictures of themselves from the storming of the Capitol. After the names of those arrested for their participation in the siege were made public, news outlets looked through social media platforms and interviewed those who knew them, identifying them as Trump supporters.

Even if there were Antifa members present—again, a claim lacking proof—all evidence still points to Trump supporters as the ringleaders of the attack. After Trump encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. on January 6—and after he had spent weeks making the false claim that the election had been stolen—plans were crafted on fringe right-wing media platforms and discussion boards in the weeks leading up to the siege, with plans for sneaking weapons into the rally openly discussed.

All available evidence indicates that Trump supporters, not Antifa members or liberals in disguise, were responsible for the violence and destruction that took place on Capitol Hill Wednesday. There is no current evidence to support claims to the contrary.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Impeach President Trump

The President must be impeached and removed from office.

President Trump spent the last 2 weeks calling his supporters to Washington D.C. This morning, he held an outdoor rally in the capitol, riling up his supporters. He and his personal lawyer talked about fighting for the Presidency, having a “trial by combat”. Then he spent hours silently watching from the Oval Office as his supporters left the rally, marched to the Capitol Building, fought their way inside, and prevented Congress from tallying the electoral votes that would finalize his loss.

This is insurrection and an attempted coup. No American president should ever be allowed to incite violence. Even less should a president be allowed to incite violence in the furtherance of their own power. Condemn this action now, in the strongest way possible, or America will be forever weakened. Possibly fatally.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children

This isn’t heartbreaking or gut wrenching. This is legitimately traumatizing. As a parent, having my children kidnapped from me like this is my worst nightmare. America did this to parents who were fleeing violence and persecution, who came to the United States hoping to find safety. But modern Republicans are fiercely xenophobic and greeted them with terror and horror, by taking away their children.

This is what Republicans—and the evangelical Christians who enable them—stand for.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children by Caitlin Dickerson, for The New York Times

Ms. Acevedo was just settling into the role when things suddenly became more chaotic, in the late summer of 2017. Unlike the teenagers she was used to working with, who had intentionally crossed the border alone, the separated children who began to arrive were inconsolable when they reached her. Each new one seemed to traumatize the rest all over again. “It was horrible,” she said. “We could not do work. It was just a classroom full of crying kids all day.”

Even after covering family separations for over a year, as an immigration reporter for the National desk at The New York Times, I was struck by how much they uprooted not only the lives of family members who were divided from each other, but also the people like Ms. Acevedo who were charged with caring for them. While she was on call, Ms. Acevedo had to be available 24-7. She often waited up after midnight to meet newly separated children arriving at her office, transported from the border by contract workers. She would be roused from bed by phone calls about children who refused to eat or leave their rooms until they were allowed to speak to the parents from whom they had been separated.

Ms. Acevedo was particularly good at soothing them during outbursts, which usually meant going from classroom to classroom and pulling up videos of songs from “Frozen” or “Moana” on her phone. It helped that she could identify with the children. She still remembers the day in first grade when she had to participate in a classroom discussion about family. She didn’t know how to say in English that she didn’t have any siblings, so she lied and said she had a brother.

Many of the parents of children on her caseload ended up being deported, ending any hope of a quick reunion. When that happened, she would meet with her fellow caseworkers and staff therapists, sometimes for hours, to discuss how to break the news to the child. They used pictures and puppets to illustrate the distance between the United States and countries like Guatemala. And they spoke in intentionally vague terms to avoid making false promises about when the children might be able to see their parents again, after learning the hard way that even those who were barely old enough to talk would latch on to any concrete expectation.

“We would have to say, ‘In many, many days you will be reunited with your parent, but we have to do a lot of paperwork,’ ” she told me, mimicking the soft voice she would use with an upset child. “The kids would still be like, ‘O.K., when am I going?’ They would start crying and it wasn’t just tears, it was screams.”

Parents who were in detention would call to ask whether they should give up their asylum claims, as Constantin’s father had. They said they had been promised they would get their children back. Ms. Acevedo would tell them she had received no such assurance from the federal government and could not advise them on how to proceed. “The parents would sign in desperation and then, the next thing you know, they would call me from their home country and say, ‘I’m here, where’s my child? Give me my child back.’”

This entry was tagged. Children Donald Trump Immigration Immigration Policy President2020

Living in Fear of COVID-19?

I keep hearing that people are tired of COVID-19, are tired of the uncertainty and “don’t want to live in fear”. Well, I’m tired of COVID-19 too. I’m tired of not knowing who’s going to get sick next, tired of not knowing when I can go back to church, tired of not knowing when I can go to a restaurant again or get a babysitter for date night.

But I vehemently disagree with the notion that masking up or maintaining social distance is the same as “living in fear”. I disagree with the idea that brave people should go about their lives like it’s 2019. There is a difference between living in fear and taking precautions.

I’m afraid of being bitten by a rattlesnake. So I wear shoes, not sandals, when I go hiking in the washes. I’m afraid of being turned into a pincushion by a cactus. So I don’t lean up against them when I want to relax. I’m afraid of heat exhaustion during the Arizona summer. So I limit my time outside during the daytime hours. If I do have to be outside, I wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and carry a water bottle.

I’m aware of the dangers around me. But I don’t ignore them because I “don’t want to live in fear”. I take basic, sensible precautions and then get on with my life.

Life with COVID-19 is much the same. When I leave home, I bring my mask in addition to my sun hat. I wear it anytime that I’m indoors. And I stay 6 feet away from others, rather than crowding in close. That isn’t living in fear, that’s taking basic, sensible precautions.

The big difference with COVID-19 is that I can spread the disease several days before I’m showing any symptoms. And I can spread the disease even if I never show any symptoms. I’m not guaranteed to be healthy just because I don’t have a fever, don’t have the sniffles, and can breathe fine. As a result, my mask protects you from the risk that I’m sick and your sick protects me from the risk that you’re sick. It’s basic courtesy.

But the effects are counterintuitive. Imagine if I could get heat exhaustion because you’re not wearing a sun hat. I have my sun hat on, I’m drinking from my water bottle, I’m staying in the shade. But you’re standing out in the sun, hatless, and haven’t had a drink in 4 hours. And I get heat exhaustion. Weird, right? But that’s how COVID-19 works.

And that counter-intuitive reality is why none of us can get back to normal until all of us agree to take precautions. We’re not asking you to live in fear. We’re asking you to put on some shoes, put on a hat, and stop leaning up against the saguaro. Do it out of kindness for others, even if you’re not personally worried about getting sick.

Please.

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Personal