The plan for January 6 (outside of the MAGA riot)

The following is from an early morning January 6, 2021 article from Bloomberg, published in the Washington Post, describing the legal backdrop for, and the history of, the parliamentary machinations planned by Trump supporters in Congress:

3. What happens then?

If at least one representative and one senator object to a state’s result, the joint session immediately recesses before the next state is called. The House and Senate meet separately to debate the objection for up to two hours before voting on whether to count or discard the electoral votes in question. Only if the objection is approved by both houses would votes be excluded. With a Democratic majority in the House, and several Republican senators on record opposing Trump’s attempts to overturn Biden’s win, any objection would be highly unlikely to succeed in getting electoral votes thrown out. But if separate two-hour debates are required for multiple states, the process could become a drawn-out, acrimonious affair.

5. Have objections been raised before?

Actually, objections aren’t rare during this process, but usually they are disposed of quickly and easily. After the 2016 election won by Trump, for instance, several Democratic representatives attempted to challenge electoral votes, but no senator joined them. In 2005, following the contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry, some Democrats were unhappy about voting issues that had come up in Ohio. In that instance, both Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones and California Senator Barbara Boxer objected to Ohio’s results, triggering consideration by both chambers. After about an hour of debate among senators — and lengthier debate among representatives — the challenge was rejected by votes of 267-31 by the House and 74-1 by the Senate.

6. Has Congress ever rejected votes?

In 1873, Congress decided not to count votes from Arkansas and Louisiana in the re-election of President Ulysses S. Grant, though Grant would have been the victor either way, according to the Congressional Research Service. Four years later, in 1877, a joint session of Congress confronting competing slates of electors opted to create a bipartisan electoral commission to resolve the highly disputed election between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who ended up winning by a single electoral vote. In hopes of avoiding such a situation in the future, Congress passed the Electoral College Act of 1887, which formed the basis for the current law. There have been no cases to date in which the process has changed the outcome of an election, according to the Congressional Research Service.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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On the other hand, if thousands in that massive MAGA crowd hadn’t been so timid that day — and had followed the bold, riled up, normal tourist crowd that beat the Capitol police, smashed windows, broke down doors and invaded the Capitol — Mike Pence likely wouldn’t be around today to boldly tell a crowd of Republicans in New Hampshire:

“As I said that day, Jan. 6 was a dark day in history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled. The Capitol was secured,” Pence said.

“And that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Pence continued. “You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day.”

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Then, because Pence is what he is, and has always been, he added:



“I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans. Or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on dividing our country to advance their radical agenda,” Pence said. “My fellow Republicans, for our country, for our future, for our children and our grandchildren, we must move forward, united.”

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“I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day.”

Or, as one internet wag put it right after Pence’s brave words were spoken:

Which is kind of a low blow. It’s not as if Trump was watching the riot live on TV, and tweeted anything like this moments after his MAGA crowd of normal tourists, who’d erected a working gallows outside (as normal tourists so often do) breached Capitol security and roamed the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Indeed we do, boss.

Dumbocrat Joe Manchin and the Bipartisanship Trap

I’m convinced now, after his incoherent “op-ed” the other day, about his fond, Anne Frank-like hopes for bipartisanship and the sanctity of the filibuster, that Joe Manchin is an idiot.   As smart as Trump himself, or Kyrsten “just change human nature, parliamentary rules are forever” Sinema, is what I’m saying.  That our all-wise Founding Fathers made no provision for one or two idiots ending democracy was a serious oversight. It would be great to live in a country where majority rule, open public debate, bipartisanship and a sense of fair play were rewarded. We don’t live in that country, unfortunately.

The echoes of the high-minded liberal democracy in 1920s Germany, the Weimar Republic, relying on the better angels of Germany against a charismatic radical movement are hard to ignore (historians refer to this stance as the Weimar Republic’s “supine passivity” in the face of Nazism).  It’s part of the problem of having well-meaning “moderates” and “compromisers” like Biden, Pelosi and Schumer in charge of the opposition party in a time of unprincipled, fantasy-based, well-financed, no-compromise extremism on the other side.   

I don’t know if it’s a lack of guts, smarts, an inability to see just how radical and insane (and essentially unpopular, when you poll on actual policies) what they are up against is, or just Charles Koch’s complete victory in his well-engineered 50 year war against “majoritarian tyranny,” (his network has captured most state governments and now dominates the federal courts) but the Democratic party’s halting steps toward justice and accountability, even to investigate a carefully orchestrated, presidentially stoked lie-fueled (ad budget $50,000,000) riot to overturn an election, are really disturbing, as I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure. What do Democratic leaders not understand about Berlin 1932?

How Democrats got played into “bipartisanship,” by McConnell’s 51-49 Suck it Caucus is beyond me.   The stunningly partisan McConnell’s sudden call for bipartisanship, by the party that gave us the last two party-line 51-49 “Suck It” Supreme Court justices, is the glue trap the dim Mr. Manchin is firmly stuck to (and, yes, Trump won Manchin’s conservative state by 40 points…). We also recall that McConnell got his 6-3 Supreme Court by changing the filibuster rule for Supreme Court justices, as he will nuke the filibuster itself, should he regain majority power in the Senate.

Someone compiled this chart of major post Civil War civil rights legislation, to show that amendments and laws supporting real social change are rarely, if ever, passed on a bipartisan basis.  Those who want slavery, and believe that Negroes, because they are inferior, “have no rights a white man is bound to respect” (in the infamous phrase of Justice Roger Taney), are never going to suddenly compromise with those who want to amend the constitution to make slavery and racism at law illegal.

There was a kind of bipartisanship, since World War One, between Dixiecrats (racist southern Democrats who ruled the now solidly Red South) and racist Republicans, who united, time after time, to filibuster and block debate on bills that would have made lynching a federal crime, as well as the two twentieth century Civil Rights Acts.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act, which finally made enforcement of the 1870 Fifteenth Amendment possible, somehow passed on a bipartisan basis [1].

The most recent reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, 98-0 in the Senate, was struck down by John Roberts in his deeply flawed, unappealable 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder ruling back in 2013 [2] (tip of the cap to Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society for finding the weak-ass local Alabama case that allowed Roberts to neuter the Voting Rights Act and usher in the age of baseless fraud challenges to fraud-free voting).

The only thing recently that gave me any optimism was this bit from Heather Cox Richardson last night:

At the same time, McConnell appeared to win the filibuster over the January 6 commission only by appealing to his caucus to vote against it as a personal favor to him. Even so, lots of senators chose to be absent on that day. It is not clear to me that McConnell is confident he can hold the filibuster wall as he was able to in the past, and having continually to defend filibusters of popular measures can only hurt the Republicans.

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That 35 cowardly weasels can stop all debate, hell, even one can do it, with an email, under present McConnell rules (Lyin’ Ted Cruz had to read Green Eggs and Ham not long ago to filibuster, I think it was Obamacare, suggesting the GOP-majority must have tweaked the talking filibuster rule recently) makes me want to holler.

But maybe, hopefully, Heather Cox Richardson is right and this 35 out of 50 filibuster vote shows how weak and counter-productive (for the GOP) McConnell’s “scorched earth” threat really might turn out to be. Can it be much more scorched than this, Joe Manchin?

[1]

The House approved this conference report version of the bill on August 3 by a 328-74 vote (Democrats 217-54, Republicans 111-20),[48] and the Senate passed it on August 4 by a 79-18 vote (Democrats 49-17, Republicans 30-1).[20]:167[49][50] On August 6, President Johnson signed the Act into law with King, Rosa ParksJohn Lewis, and other civil rights leaders in attendance at the signing ceremony.[20]:168

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[2]

Today, thanks to the last two 51-49 Suck It justices added by Messrs Trump and McConnell, that vote to strike down the Senate’s unanimous will, and the enthusiastic support of former president George W. Bush, who signed the law after making some remarks about its importance to democracy, would be a “bipartisan” 6-3 overturning of majority rule.

I Can’t Keep Blaming Mr. Hitler — note

I have a tendency to see Adolf Hitler as the explanation of, or at least the perfect illustration for, so much of what I dread in life. I tend to be judgmental about Mr. Hitler’s career and to blame the Nazi leader for many of the things I hate and fear. The arbitrary designation of enemies, who must be killed, the unappealable and irrational demand for absolute loyalty, breach of which is punishable by death. The long strings of words mobilized and deployed like Panzer divisions and formations of Luftwaffe bombers to convince the desperate that if only they obey absolutely, they will be saved and led to glorious victory over their hated enemies.

Hitler, for his part, started off claiming that he was just a drummer, the guy in front of the parade banging the drum to set the cadence for the march. A very modest self-portrait, I think, for a man who, just a few years later, would be celebrated as a national savior and worshipped by millions.

I apparently wrote up this note to myself back in September, 2019. You can read the post here, if you have a few minutes.

The quick point is this. I come from an average working class Jewish family that was wiped out, down to the infants and pregnant women, along with thousands and thousands of other families, in the aftermath of the German push into the Soviet Union. In the wake of this conquering army, Ukrainians and Belarusians often assisted the Einsatzgruppen, the special squads assigned to rid the world of the Jews and other poisonous threats to humanity.

So it was in the town my mother’s parents grew up in, in the heart of the Ukraine. Every surviving Jew marched from the little ghetto to the ravine on the northwestern edge of town, bang, dead [1]. You can’t even find this murder of several thousand, one airless night in August 1943, among the mass shootings committed by Mr. Hitler’s followers, it simply didn’t make the list. It’s only recorded one place on-line, a transcribed oral history of the massacre of the Jewish inhabitants of that town, and here, from time to time, on this blahg.

A cousin and I have been trying for years to find out exactly what happened to my father’s side, back in Belarus. They, and the benighted little hamlet they lived in, were wiped from the world without a trace. There were various aktions in the area, that much we’ve learned, and they were all killed in the course of those.

So I see myself as fundamentally different from a well-born ubermensch like Jared Kushner. His family had the good fortune (and the money, presumably) to escape the slaughterhouse that was Europe in the last of the Nazi years. They came here, these two poor immigrants, Jared’s grandparents, and slowly bought and operated a small empire of New Jersey apartment houses, which made them very wealthy. Their son, Charles, took this small real estate empire and greatly expanded it, becoming a billionaire, like his son Jared, after him.

Two generations after his grandparents escaped the Nazi killing machine, Jared Kushner has the haughty bearing of a young SS officer. He speaks with the absolute certainty of someone who has never been wrong, or, if he has been wrong, has never been corrected. You simply cannot picture a man like that marched to his dignity free mass execution in a pile of freshly combed dirt.

Easier, by far, to imagine him distractedly smoking a cigarette, in a long holder, as he gives the signal for the Ukrainian auxiliary police to fire the next volley, into the back of my head, and the heads of the people on either side of me.

Fortunately, Jared’s time in power did not last long enough for this important work to be completed. It took Mr. Hitler years to accomplish all that he accomplished, it was not the work of a single four year period, it took at least twice that long to get it all into high gear.

We are all poised in the fall of 1932 here (in other countries it’s already later). Here in US of A the future of our long experiment in democracy is at the mercy of two Democrats who insist there is no problem that can’t be solved if only we all just learn to respect each other and behave differently.

[1] from that transcribed oral history:

At the beginning of Elul 1943, about 10 SS men arrived from Kremenets. They gathered a large number of armed Ukrainian policemen from the surrounding area and stationed them in the shade. One SS man stood next to the great master, Mr. Shtayger, the destroyer of Vishnevets Jewry. He stood up and gave a short speech that I heard in full and still can’t forget.

He said, “Today we’re going to liquidate all the Jews in the ghetto. Go knock on each window, open it, and tell the Jews, ‘Leave your homes, you traitors, you Jewish Communists.’ Beat the Jews who refuse to leave their homes with the butts of your guns. Pay attention: you can strike to kill, but make sure you don’t kill them inside the ghetto. Take them outside town, to the designated area, and kill them there.”

I still don’t understand why he didn’t want to exterminate us inside the ghetto.

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I get it, they didn’t want the hassle of dealing with all the stinking corpses inside the town, during a hot summer, especially since they had a nearby mass grave ready to accommodate all the dead. You have to use common sense!

American Isolation and our existential loneliness

The pandemic, and the defiant rise of the mask-free MAGA rally during the pandemic, really brought home two sides of American isolation, and the profound loneliness many feel in a society that mythologizes outsized greed and takes minimal care of its must vulnerable citizens. The enthusiasm of the crowds at MAGA rallies underscores our need to connect with others, a need to belong that is loudly expressed by fans of sports teams or musical celebrities. The loud defiance of medical advice unites MAGA nation, who believe this defiance shows their toughness.

We have never, outside of fandom, been a society that much values community (though, as the MAGA rally demonstrates, Americans long for being part of a community), or the idea of sacrificing for our neighbors, favoring instead the winner takes all myth of the Rugged Individual.

Rugged Individualism, rooted in violent competition for land and wealth in the Wild West, is an absurdity if you examine it very closely, but it exerts a tremendous influence on our culture. The myth is often expressed simply as Individualism. “I come first, you don’t come at all, asshole. Get off my land, red skin. Me and my gun give you ten seconds to skidaddle.” The Rugged Individual is ready to kill to take and defend what is his, and the mythical figure is a man, a toxically masculine man, in the “woke” parlance of our day.

The prevalence of this myth that only the truly tough, those who win the endless competition, are fit to rule the rest of us, makes us a lonely, self-doubting society. How can we ever be good enough if other individuals, competing in the same basic game, manage to amass fortunes ten thousand times greater than our own?

Charles Koch, one of the wealthiest old men in the world (he’s 85), is a classic rugged individualist. He was raised by his tough, demanding self-made father, fist fighting his brothers, and he came out on top, in court and in life. He is the surviving Koch Brother (arts loving philanthropist David having recently gone on to his reward) and arguably one of the most influential men in the USA, certainly for the last twenty years or so.

Starting with nothing more than a lucrative family oil refining business and a small personal fortune of less than $100,000,000 [1], the lion’s share of the family business wrested from his weaker brothers, Charles Koch built a multibillion dollar empire, an influential, many armed political machine, and a vast personal fortune of more than sixty billion dollars. All by himself, because of his guts, drive, brilliance and his determination to be the best.

The millions of dollars and the hugely profitable business he inherited didn’t hurt him, of course, nobody could deny that, but the myth is that he’d have done it all even if he’d been born in abject poverty. It’s all a matter of character and personal strength, goes the myth. The man famously works more than 12 hours a day, weekends too, without a need to relax.

Donald Trump, similar deal. Jared Kushner, another self-made rugged individual. Though, as opposed to Charles Koch, these two rich boys did little to actually increase the wealth their tough, wealthy, ambitious fathers bestowed on them. Never mind, good enough, their vast wealth qualifies them as among the best of the best.

I love this bit of fatherly advice, debunking that bullshit in a few seconds, offered by a longtime White House dogsbody (with a great voice) on the canceled hit show House of Cards:

We have an exceptional degree of isolationist individualism here in our Winner/Loser society. And, I suspect, an exceptional degree of social isolation and desperate loneliness. We don’t have a widespread idea of social responsibility, those who advocate for it are mocked as “Social Justice Warriors,” “Class Warriors,” “Radical Socialists,” “Woke” and so on. There are dozens of ways of summarily dismissing the arguments of those who see our fellow citizens as a community riding in the same boat we are in, making us all a little bit responsible for each other’s welfare. We see glimpses of this community spirit during emergencies, so we still have the instinct and capacity to watch out for each other, though it seems to be emergency-only in our current culture.

If you are a low income worker, the myth goes, born into a family without wealth, you get what you fucking deserve. Everyone starts with the same liberty rights Charles Koch, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner started with, and the only worthwhile social project, for the well-born, is to preserve every bit of the liberties each of us are born with. That is the essence of Libertarianism, leave well enough alone (except for police to protect private property) and if you can’t flourish, you don’t deserve to, asshole.

So we get a political party now openly devoted to protecting the interests of this wealthiest 0.01%, the truly great Americans, the generous liberty-loving citizens who fund America’s dedication to liberty and democracy. That party will block a federal living wage, because people too lazy and stupid to make more than $7.25 an hour don’t deserve a dime more. (And a big “fuck you” to Kyrsten Fucking Sinema for signing on to that). That freedom loving party will insist that stupid, lazy poor people should not be allowed to easily vote (and if they do vote, political partisans must have the final say on counting votes), since they will inevitably vote for wealth-wasting projects like good public schools (tyranny!), slowing global climate catastrophe (killing jobs in fossil fuel!), affordable healthcare as a right for all citizens (killing jobs in the private sector!), reining in gun violence (tyranny! regulation is unconstitutional under the second amendment [2]!) curbing police murder of unarmed civilians (dangerous job! split second life or death decisions!), giving qualified citizens access to an affordable college education (Communism!), making sure no American child goes to bed hungry (waste of money!), etc.

The Libertarian project to combat ‘social welfare’ programs kicked into high gear as soon as the Supreme Court belatedly ruled that public school segregation imposed unconstitutional disabilities on students forced to attend poorly funded schools, based solely on race. Charles Koch’s father, Fred, was one of the founding members of the then lunatic fringe John Birch Society, which arose in response to the brutal “government coercion” represented by this radical Supreme Court. Trumpism, the modern Republican party, the 2021 incarnation of privilege-protection, flows directly from the John Birch Society lunatic fringe, whose founders included Charles Koch’s dad, who worked for both Hitler and Stalin (before the war!).

Robert Welch (wealthy candy baron) founded the John Birch Society, incorporated as a Massachusetts non-profit educational organization, to fight the judicial activism that had reared its ugly head in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ruling. An Eisenhower-appointed chief justice, Earl Warren, had ruled, along with a unanimous court, that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. This “judicial activism” was felt, by Welch and his circle, as an intolerable blow to human liberty.

In an address in Indianapolis on December 9, 1958, shortly after establishing his non-profit educational far right-wing advocacy group, Welch lambasted Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles (a conservative anti-communist), as a covert communist agent and said that Eisenhower himself was also working for the Commies, though possibly unwittingly. Welch laid it all out, cogently, in black and white, foreshadowing Trump’s unhinged rhetoric from his American Carnage State of the Union address:

We are engaged in an end-time struggle between good and evil, the battle lines are drawn in a struggle from which either Communism or Christian style civilization must emerge, with one completely triumphant and the other completely destroyed.

You will recognize this as the dramatic zero-sum battle language of fascism. Hitler stressed this over and over — good vs. evil in a fight to the death. Purity vs. deadly blood pollution. Good people vs. evil child blood drinking Satanist pedophiles, etc.

It is, in many ways, one against all here in the USA — and the sides are not drawn by any rational calculation of what is right, and sustainable, and what is wrong, and destructive, but by what we might call fate and the accident of birth.

I was reminded of this by a remarkable bit of autobiography I encountered the other day. A guy whose every joke is at his gamely smiling wife’s expense, responded to a story about violence in my own family (my grandmother’s to my mother) with this:

“When my brother and I used to fight, my father would tell us to fight outside — and the winner will fight me. My father and my uncle were both prodigious bar fighters, they got in fights every day, with anybody. Their father used to run the waterfront in [I forgot which city] and he was a very tough guy, in fact, he was a crime boss. He was basically Johnny Friendly from ‘On the Waterfront’.”

Which reminded me again, you can know somebody for years, and learn a detail like this, and a light goes on. My father, a difficult character, was an unsolvable puzzle to me, until I learned how viciously he’d been abused as a child. His implacability and overwhelming need to rage suddenly became very understandable. As well as the terrible loneliness that comes from being betrayed by your primary caregiver, a loneliness he evaded only momentarily while dazzling others with his quick wit and making strong arguments to support his firm opinions.

[1] first hit when querying “how much did Charles Koch inherit when his father died?”

Charles’s brothers Frederick and Bill had inherited stock in Koch Industries. In June 1983, after a legal and boardroom battle, the stakes of Frederick and Bill were bought out for $1.1 billion and Charles and his younger brother David became majority owners in the company.

It is not easy to find out how much Charles Koch inherited when Fred died. It’s not mentioned in his Wikipedia biography, which points out that he and his brothers inherited a “medium sized” oil refining business and that Charles and David (on the Forbes top ten wealthiest list until 2018) turned the renamed Koch Industries into the “largest privately held company by revenue in the United States, according to Forbes.[6]“.

[2]

Particularly if you discard the first four words of that inartfully drafted amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Blast from the past

It doesn’t matter how stupid certain politicians are, if they rage the right way during national moments of fury. What does the party of White Christian grievance and revenge have to say to its base (al-Qaeda in Arabic [1]) to stay in power? Things like this work quite well, when directed toward angry folks with a lot of pent-up fear and faith in Divine retribution:

[1]

the base

A network of Islamic fundamentalist groups, founded in 1988 and associated with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. The name comes from Arabic, meaning literally ‘the base’.

From: Al-Qaeda in The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 

Fucking Democrats…

Instead of giving the Republican senators a stark choice last week between voting for the bipartisan January 6 Commission and facing a majority Democratic House Select Committee investigating the MAGA riot, with the power to subpoena whoever they want and broadcasting their sworn testimony live on television (with no veto from GOP reps, who could include insurrectionists Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Marjorie Taylor QAnon, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, etc. — see full list of House 2020 election-contesting Select Committee contenders at [1]), we read that Democratic leaders are still fretting about the right way forward.

There’s still a ghost of a chance, some optimistic Democrats appear to think, that six more Republicans will come forward to sacrifice their careers, and possibly endanger their families’ lives, by voting for the evenly bipartisan commission Republicans in the House demanded, and got.

Here’s a headline, reporting the most recent “action” by the Democrats:

Pelosi Weighing Options On How To move Forward With Jan. 6 Commission.

I know that the Democrats, like the Republicans, work for corporations, that not alienating wealthy mega-donors is the name of the game, and that they rightfully don’t want to look like like McConnell’s lockstep, vindictive, truth-defying Trumpist zombies, but WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK is wrong with Democratic leadership?

Vote A or you will get B, motherfuckers.

What is hard about framing a simple choice like that? It presents the only two choices open to anyone who wants to fight to preserve democracy. If not A, we must do B, there is no third option, no compromise possible with a party of blustering zealots and cringing careerist cowards.

Mind you, this filibuster was over something that should not have been partisan, like wearing a mask during a deadly pandemic (“Auschwitz!”), or getting vaccinated (“traitor!” “wimp!!!”) should not have been partisan. “Should” is a quaint word from a bygone time, a precatory word from the old world of norms, a word with no legal force or power. Still, it is hard to imagine (the above examples aside) anything more bipartisan than investigating on attack on Congress, Republicans and Democrats and their staffs all fled an angry mob of normal tourists on an normal mission to hang Trump’s loyal vice president and anyone else they found.

It benefits only their leader to cover up an investigation into the roots of the riot that overran the police, surged into the Capitol after breaking windows and doors and actually halted a joint session of Congress that was about to finalize the peaceful transfer of power. The peaceful transfer of the presidency has been a hallmark of American democracy since the founding. Until a particular wealthy compulsive liar refused to accept the voters’ verdict and decided to send a mob to stop it.

There is also, of course, the matter of learning for sure exactly who organized, paid for, and planned the attack that breached the Capitol. The organizers and financiers of the dress rehearsal for an all-out insurrection are all still out there. They have to be encouraged that, so far, but for a few of their pawns arrested and on their own, the mad plan worked so well and nobody is coming after the instigators so far.

If you don’t think the riot was serious as terminal cancer, consider: if the tens of thousands of Trump supporters who swarmed the mall had followed the boldest 800 or so over the barricades and into the Capitol, there quite likely would have been state funerals for Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and others.

One thing I will say for Trump’s followers in Congress, and Nazi-types in general, they boldly and forcefully confront enemies and never publicly back down. They fetishize boldness. Boldness is a hallmark of the in-your-fucking-face provocative style of fascist/klan rallies. McConnell will never back down from his comment that 100% of his focus is on obstructing anything Biden and the Democrats try to do. There is no sniffing the wind, no deliberating, discussing, debating. They (or their leader) make a decision, no matter how stupid, and boldly stick to it. If it turns out to be wrong, they simply make it a rallying cry, to “trigger” the other side, their hated enemies. It works well for a solid 39% of Americans, we can say that for it.

Even fucking Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post ran this editorial, not long after Trump demanded a filibuster of a commission to investigate his riot and McConnell asked for the filibuster as a “personal favor,” and it was so.

“HOPEFULLY, MITCH McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” Once former president Donald Trump ordered Republican leaders in Congress on May 18 to block an independent commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6, the fate of the panel was sealed. On Friday, 35 Senate Republicans, including Mr. McConnell (Ky.), delivered the fatal blow by upholding a filibuster. But that must not be the end of efforts to get to the bottom of the most serious attack on U.S. democracy since the Civil War.

Having tried bipartisanship on an issue of such critical importance, Democrats must now undertake their own investigation. Just as President Biden used reconciliation to enact covid-19 relief in the face of GOP obstruction, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should use her authority to appoint a select committee to investigate what happened on Jan. 6.

Such a committee, used in the past to examine such issues as the response to Hurricane Katrina, would have its drawbacks. It would be composed of members of Congress and not experts. Mr. McCarthy would likely use his appointments to lard the committee with members intent not on getting at the truth but protecting Mr. Trump. And it might be more difficult for the public to accept its conclusions. But Friday’s vote — in which Republicans prevented the commission bill from even coming to the floor for debate — leaves Democrats with little alternative. The country needs answers to such questions as what led to and who was responsible for the attack on Congress, and why there was a delay in getting reinforcements to the Capitol to help besieged police officers.

During negotiations over the commission bill in the House, which passed with bipartisan support, Republicans got everything they asked for, including equal representation on the commission. Democrats were prepared to offer further concessions in the Senate. But most Republicans, as Friday’s vote made clear, would just as soon forget about the day thousands of Mr. Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol and assaulted police officers as they tried to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results. No doubt, they know that much of the responsibility for the riot lies with Mr. Trump, and they are loath to incur his wrath or that of his base.

In a closed-door meeting with his conference, Mr. McConnell argued that a lengthy commission wouldn’t be good politics heading into the midterms; he engaged in extraordinary arm-twisting, going so far as to tell wavering Republicans that their support to filibuster the bill would be a “personal favor” to him. It worked: Only six Republicans voted to advance debate on the commission: Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.).

Ms. Pelosi suggested during an April interview with USA Today that she might move to establish a select committee to investigate Jan. 6 if efforts for an independent commission failed. A statement she issued Friday in response to the Senate’s vote makes no mention of a select committee but stated that “honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth.” Proceed they should.

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But only after A LOT more hand-wringing over the “right way” forward, like the agonizing year-long deliberations over whether Trump’s documented obstruction of justice, by itself, was enough to justify an impeachment (Nancy decided it wasn’t — an impeachment for extorting the new Ukrainian president and contempt of Congress — a political entity even more unpopular that Trump– would rally more Americans to the cause of impeachment, since it was more tangible and understandable than an abstraction like Obstruction of Justice, she argued).

Here’s a thought:

Maybe Joe Manchin has another good idea, or the coy Kyrsten Sinema will get inspired to offer any idea. Actually, Sinema reared her adorable little corporate head the other day, during a bipartisan Border Wall photo op with John Cornyn (R-Tx) to say this (which does not actually qualify as an idea):

“Well, as folks in Arizona know, I’ve long been a supporter of the filibuster, because it is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation, rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies.”

Wait, here’s her idea! (from an April 2021 interview with Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in which the senator for Arizona big business– she always listens to Arizona business leaders, she says — spelled out what needs to happen, instead of modifying the sacred Senate procedural rule so skillfully used by reactionary obstructionists)

“When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules,” Sinema told the Journal. “I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”

Brilliant. Simply change human nature. I feel much better now.

How 35 obstructionists can uphold a filibuster is another head-scratcher, maybe one of those moderate centrists can explain to the rest of us.

Free gold, losers!

[1] Any of these 139 Trumpist patriots who voted to block confirmation of Biden Electors in the House would be an excellent candidate for the House Select Committee to investigate Benghazi, er, the January 6 MAGA riot. Many supported a commission to investigate election “fraud” before Biden could be sworn in, all later voted against a bill to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot that they helped inspire. (I know Frank Lucas and Lloyd Smucker are in there twice, they deserve to be, great men, both).

(Also, formatting with this fucking intuitive WordPress editor was close to impossible for an old man like me… these are screen shots of screen shots, good luck making a collage, or formatting columns, with this ingeniously re-designed program… it’s so brilliantly simple to work with their innovative “blocks”…)

Anyway, here they are:

Playing soothing music for my dying mother

My mother died a long, slow, painful death from endometrial cancer. She did not want to talk about death, though she often asked, rhetorically, why she felt so awful all the time. I understood that I was not supposed to mention death, or the deadly cancer eating its way out from the lining of her womb.

My mother always gave my father a hard time about his napping. He’d fall asleep a few times a day and, when I was visiting, my mother would point at him and complain. It turns out he was dying of undiagnosed liver cancer the last few years of his life, which could well explain his more frequent naps, but that’s another story.

As my mother got closer to the end, she found herself exhausted during the day and would often fall into a nap. I asked her if she’d changed her opinion of napping.

“Oh, I LOVE to nap!” she said with a big smile.

One day toward the end of her life, when she was trying to sleep off some unbearable pain, I went quietly into her room with my guitar and began playing a soft, soothing vamp, something like this one:

Her breathing seemed to become more relaxed as I played. I played softly for a few minutes, hoping to help her to sleep. Suddenly she sputtered and opened her eyes on the pillow.

“What IS that?!” she said crossly, “it sounds like you’re tuning your guitar!”

I withdrew from her bedroom and didn’t try that shit again.

Right Wing Billionaire At Work

A guy like Rupert Murdoch doesn’t even have to try. You just put it out there under the banner of the newspaper you own, the one with the fourth largest circulation of any US newspaper (as of 2019, anyway) et, voila, millions influenced! Tulsa “massacre” a hundred years ago? BULLSHIT. Biden’s a liar like the rest of them, trying to divide us with hate.

This one you have to see to believe, the clip is less than two minutes long. It is not remarkable because the claims of the Post are incendiary, or because of clever editing of the president’s remarks or the heavy laying on of editorial spin. It is amazing because they don’t even bother, the title does all the work — read the headline and you’ve digested the story. Case closed, fucking Biden’s a divisive liar.

What is divisive, according to Murdoch, is presumably the president’s assertion that politicians in most states are trying to restrict the right to vote. He’s presumably lying when he falsely claims that voting is an essential right of democracy. Maybe Biden was lying when he called the orgy of racially motivated mass-murder in Tulsa a “massacre”, rather than the more popular, race-neutral “riot” usually applied to uprisings (real or imagined) of Black people.

Biden’s divisive and false Tulsa speech

I know it gets tedious, me constantly trying to bring facts and reason into a conversation where hot-blooded patriots are ready to kill as many fellow citizens as it takes to avoid their worst nightmares, where a single lie does the work of all of your so-called libraries, all your maddening so-called facts. A violent mob doesn’t need the truth, they need the fuse lit.

In Tulsa, one hundred years ago, a false accusation against 19 year-old Black man Dick Rowland lit the fuse. Rowland’s crime? He’d gone to use the only colored bathroom in segregated downtown Tulsa, and in the elevator, he supposedly made a seventeen year-old white girl, Sarah Page, who was operating the elevator, shriek.

What happened next remains murky, according to historians and reports about one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. Rowland may have accidentally stepped on Page’s foot, prompting her to shriek. Or tripped and bumped into her.

When the elevator doors reopened, Dick Rowland ran, and a clerk in Renberg’s called police.

Rowland was arrested and accused of assaulting a White girl. Though the charges were eventually dropped and Page later wrote a letter exonerating him, the accusation was enough to infuriate White Tulsa.

Three hours after the Tulsa Tribune hit the street with the headline “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator,” hundreds of White men gathered at the Tulsa courthouse, where Rowland was being held.

Black World War I veterans who wanted to protect Rowland from being lynched rushed to the courthouse to defend him. A shot was fired and “all hell broke loose,” a massacre survivor recalled later.

“As the whites moved north, they set fire to practically every building in the African American community, including a dozen churches, five hotels, 31 restaurants, four drug stores, eight doctor’s offices, more than two dozen grocery stores, and the Black public library,” according to a 2001 report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. “By the time the violence ended, the city had been placed under martial law, thousands of Tulsans were being held under armed guard, and the state’s second-largest African American community had been burned to the ground.”

source

All hell broke loose, indeed.

The white lynch mob went on an eighteen-hour rampage, a pogrom, during which, with the assistance of law enforcement, they murdered a few hundred blacks while burning down a 35 block black neighborhood in Tulsa. The mob employed airplanes to drop incendiary devices on buildings and American citizens. Whites were deputized to join the free-for-all arrest and murder of hundreds of Black citizens, people not even accused of any crime, outside of being “n-words” with no rights a white mob was bound to respect. Virtually every home in Greenwood was destroyed, along with dozens of prosperous black-owned businesses. Thousands were left homeless, the area, reduced to smoldering rubble, looked like a city ravaged by American fire bombs in World War Two. The thousands of Tulsans detained under armed guard after the massacre were all, coincidentally, Black. The brutality of the attack is sickening to read about. The exact number of dead is impossible to reckon, bodies were dumped in the river, the sites of mass graves are still being searched for, a hundred years later. No member of the murderous mob was ever arrested, tried or convicted of anything [1].

Black men in Tulsa are marched under armed guard during the race massacre on June 1, 1921. (Department of Special Collections/McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa/AP)

Dick Rowland, the intended victim of the original lynch mob, was not among the murdered Blacks.

While smoke still rose from the ashes of Greenwood, Tulsa’s sheriff, Willard McCullough, and his deputy, Barney Cleaver, one of the first Black lawmen in Oklahoma, hustled Dick Rowland out of town.

source

Though witnesses and memory can be unreliable, particularly years after the fact, we have this:

Ellouise Cochrane-Price, the daughter of massacre survivor Clarence Rowland and a cousin of Dick Rowland, claims Dick and Sarah not only knew each other before he stepped on the elevator but were in love and were planning to defy Oklahoma’s ban on interracial marriage.

“They were planning on getting married,” she told an audience at the Oklahoma Black Caucus gala last month. “They had spent many Sundays over my grandma’s house, at family dinners.”

When the White mob gathered outside the Tulsa courthouse, she said, “the mayor, the sheriff and the marshal were aware that Dick had not attacked Sarah. There had been no attempted rape of any kind. However, that information was not given up or not received by the mob that was gathered to hang Dick Rowland.”

In September 1921, the charges against Dick Rowland were dropped, according to records.

Charles Franklin Barrett, the Oklahoma National Guard adjutant general whose troops were called into Tulsa during the rampage, concluded the massacre was caused by “an impudent Negro, a hysterical girl and a yellow journal.”

source

Now as Rupert Murdoch and his fellow yellow journalists and right-wing entertainers claim — we have that deranged, violent demagogue Biden, digging up this ancient filth, dividing and lying to this great nation, and smearing our good name with feces and calling our finest white citizens the descendants of murderous racists. How are we supposed to heal when insane, doddering, “woke”, “politically correct” old men like that are divisively and lyingly picking at long closed scabs? The past is called the past because it’s in the fucking past. Jesus… what don’t you pathetic history-citing eggheads not understand about how the world actually works?

[1]

Outside of the corrupt Tulsa chief of police, who lost his job for “negligence” in not stopping the massacre, often called the “riot”:

[John A.] Gustafson was found to have a long history of fraud pre-dating his membership of the Tulsa Police Department. His previous partner in his detective agency, Phil Kirk, had been convicted of blackmail.[123] Gustafson’s fake detective agency ran up high billings on the police account. Investigators noted that many blackmail letters had been sent to members of the community from the agency. One particularly disturbing case involved the frequent rape, by her father, of an 11-year-old girl who had since become pregnant. Instead of prosecuting, they sent a “Blackhand letter.”[124] On July 30, 1921, out of five counts of an indictment, Gustafson was found guilty of two counts: negligence for failing to stop the riot (which resulted in dismissal from police force), and conspiracy for freeing automobile thieves and collecting rewards (which resulted in a jail sentence).[125]

source

Military Coup, anyone?

Not to question anyone’s credibility, but over the weekend pardoned felon Mike “Lock Her UP!” Flynn, speaking at a four day QAnon conference in Dallas (he took an oath to “Q” on July 4, 2020, nuff said) told a crowd that a Myanmar-style military coup in America “should happen here”. Flynn, who insists Trump won the popular vote and Electoral College in 2020, was one of the keynote speakers at the For God and Country Patriot Roundup, along with his former attorney, Kraken-releaser Sidney Powell, and Texas Representative Louie Gohmert and he was only answering an audience question honestly.

When the clip was played on fake news, it was, of course, made to sound bad and Flynn immediately shot back that reporting he supported a military coup in the U.S. was a “boldface fabrication” and that his words had been taken out of context:

“Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort,” Flynn said in a post on Telegram, a social-media app that has been favored by far-right groups.

“Any reporting of any other belief by me is a boldface fabrication based on twisted reporting at a lively panel at a conference of Patriotic Americans who love this country, just as I do,” Flynn added to his 227,000 subscribers.

source

Kooks like Liz Cheney immediately tweeted mean things about Flynn. Flynn, of course, was helpless to fight back, having been banned from Twitter by the radical left on January 8, 2021, after wholeheartedly supporting the Stop the Steal riot of January 6.

If you read Flynn’s Wikipedia page… well, no comment. I don’t want to be taken out of context. I suggest a quick skim. All the quotes below are from that article. Here’s a paragraph that jumped out at me, from a Trump campaign rally in 2016:

During the speech, Flynn attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; he encouraged the crowd to chant “Lock her up!”; saying “Damn right! Exactly right! There is nothing wrong with that!”[7] He called for Clinton to withdraw from the race, claiming that “if I did a tenth of what she did, I’d be in jail today.”[58] He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be “locked up”.[106] While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the “enemy camp”.[58] Six days after the speech, Flynn stirred up a controversy by retweeting anti-Semitic remarks, which he later apologized for and claimed were unintentional.[113] During the campaign, Flynn also posted links to false articles and conspiracy theories relating to Clinton on Twitter,[114] including the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[115]

Pizzagate, you will recall, was the forerunner of the full-blown Trumpist QAnon conspiracy movement. It turned out there was no basement in the DC pizza place where Hillary Clinton and fellow powerful Democrat Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibals allegedly locked children in the basement for sex and blood drinking purposes, it was a sick fantasy hatched by people who wanted to LOCK HER UP (as Jair Bolsonaro later did to his popular opponent in Brazil, shortly before the election). Now the baseless conspiracy about the child sex trafficking pizza joint is a footnote, and the starting point for the massively popular theory, embraced by millions, who believe, as the mysterious “Q” teaches, that Donald J. Trump is the only thing standing between decency and Tom Hanks fucking and killing every child he can get his disgusting hands on.

Apparently mad as hell, after Obama forced him to retire from the military for his hard-ass management style [2], Mike Flynn went on to make considerable money working for Putin and the dictatorial leader of Turkey, among other clients. While working for them he served as a campaign advisor to presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, and finally, the last Republican standing, Donald Trump. Little known fact:

In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump’s running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and, although a registered Democrat, was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.[108][109] However, Trump instead selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Pence, of course, famously went on to betray Trump, in a way Flynn never would have. Trump didn’t listen to Flynn and Powell (and America’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani) when they urged him, days before the Capitol riot, to invoke the Insurrection Act to impose martial law and retain power after traitors claimed he “lost” the rigged, stolen 2020 election. For some reason, Trump hesitated — and the moment to seize power was gone. Alas!

Fortunately for Mr. Trump, there are millions of very angry Americans who believe Q are ready to go to war to reverse the stolen 2020 election and rescue America from the grips of antifa, BLM and the likes of fucking Tom Hanks. The declared neutrality of moderate, centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in this fight will be a huge help to the cause. USA! USA!!!!!

Ya gotta love Mike! Flynn, NOT Pence!

[1]

Communist mouthpiece Business Insider added a gratuitous inflammatory editorial comment (that I prudently decided not to emphasize myself, in the interest of objectivity — what point to mention that Flynn’s 22 days as presidential national security advisor was the shortest term in US history for someone serving in that vital role?) after General Flynn straightened out the fake news:

“I am no stranger to media manipulating my words and therefore let me repeat my response to a question asked at the conference: There is no reason it (a coup) should happen here (in America),” Flynn wrote Monday.

Flynn served as national security adviser under Trump for 22 days before resigning. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with a Russian ambassador, though he later retracted his plea and was pardoned by the former president last November.

[and then — more incendiary, defamatory lies by CCP mouthpiece “Business Insider” !]

As CNN reported Monday, Flynn continued to repeat false claims about the 2020 election during last weekend’s convention, saying, “Trump won. He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.” Trump won neither the popular vote nor the Electoral College vote.

source

[2]

More baseless Deep State smears against one of Trump’s best people:

In a private e-mail that was leaked online, Colin Powell said he had heard in the DIA (apparently from later DIA director Vincent R. Stewart) that Flynn was fired because he was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.”[71] According to The New York Times, Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with the truth, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn’s repeated dubious assertions as “Flynn facts”.[73]

These 11 didn’t vote when Republicans won the filibuster 35-54 to block January 6 Commission

At a moment when 60 votes are required to overcome even a 35 vote filibuster (parliamentary rules rule!) to obstruct debate, eleven senate weasels cast no vote one way or the other.

While every vocal Republican senate supporter of Trump’s mad theory that in spite of bipartisan certification of the election the presidency had nonetheless been stolen from him (Cruz, Hawley, Johnson, Cotton, Tuberville, Kennedy, Scott, along with less vocal Hyde-Smith, Marshall and Loomis [1]) showed up to vote to kill the January 6 Commission, nine other Republicans opted for abstention (“neutrality” on the issue by simply not casting a vote — so much for Schumer’s vow to force all obstructionists to show their faces while voting), along with two “moderate” Democrats who didn’t vote:

Patty Murray (D-Washington) (citing personal family reason for missing vote)

Kyrsten Fucking Sinema (D-Arizona)

From Sinema’s Wikipedia page:

Sinema urged Senate colleagues to vote in favor of the proposed January 6 commission to further investigate the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. In a statement, she said, “we implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th.”[106] But she was one of two Senate Democrats who did not vote on it, the other being Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who cited a “personal family matter” for her absence.[107][108] Sinema did not give a reason for missing the vote.[109]

Nor did her spokespeople give a reason, when reporters inquired.

We learn, also from Wikipedia:

During the 116th Congress, she voted with President Donald Trump‘s position roughly 25% of the time, the third-most of any Democratic senator, behind Joe Manchin [2] and Mark Kelly.[note 1][6]

The nine Republican senators who opted for “abstention” were:

  • Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
  • Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana
  • Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho
  • Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

Profiles in fucking courage, yo.

[1]

These patriots all voted to dispute the Electoral College certifications in one or more states, after the Stop the Steal riot that violently interrupted the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021:

What happened to loud-mouthed Trumpists Ron Johnson from Wisconsin and Tom Cotton (R- Arkansas)? Apparently they were as cowardly that day as the useless Mike Pence…

[2]

Manchin, by the way, voted for the confirmations of Jeff Sessions (52-47), Neil Gorusch (54-45), Boof Kavanaugh (50-48) and yes to a federal law to ban abortions after 20 weeks (51-46). On the other hand, the “centrist” from West Virginia voted with the rest of his party against the hurried confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett (48-52, straight party-line vote), as did fellow “moderate” Kyrsten Sinema. Manchin also voted “no” on the confirmation of Betsey DeVos (50-51) for the cynically ironic post of Secretary of Education.