Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Greatest Threat to the U.S. -- Today's Republican Party

 


"The single greatest threat to the United States is not joblessness, foreclosures, another recession or skyrocketing debt or health care costs. Nor is it terrorism, China or declining influence abroad. No, the single greatest threat to our country is today’s Republican Party.”

    Sandy Goodman, Huffington Post contributor and retired producer for NBC Nightly News (June 21, 2011)

Does anyone remember what it was like in 2011 … before the election of Donald Trump, before the pandemic and the lockdown, before the attack on the U.S. Congress by right-wing extremists? It seems like ages ago. However, some observers were already warning us of a disaster in-the-making.

Back in June 2011, seasoned journalist Sandy Goodman called the Republican Party the greatest threat to the country. Goodman said then that the GOP was relentlessly pursuing a policy of “the American public be damned,” so that next year Republicans could regain the national political dominance they held from 2001 to 2006.

Goodman said …

Their (the Republicans') sole, selfish aim is to complete the transformation of the U.S. to a government of, by and for the rich and the far-right.

In her article, Goodman said Veteran reporter Robert Parry, a retired correspondent for the Associated Press and Newsweek, accurately summed up that policy this way:

Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using any means available … Control as much as possible what the population gets to see and hear; create chaos for your opponent’s government, economically and politically; blame it for the mess; and establish in the minds of the voters that their only way out is to submit, that the pain will stop once your side is back in power...

“Republicans and the Right... are well positioned to roll the U.S. economy off the cliff and blame the catastrophe on Obama. Indeed, that may be their best hope for winning Election 2012.”

(Sandy Goodman. “Republicans: The Single Greatest Threat to America.” Huffington Post. June 21, 2011.)

And also in 2011, good old Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “I wish we had been able to obstruct more.” McConnell had succeeded brilliantly in keeping his members in line in opposing what Goodman called “every important measure that’s good for this country including presidential initiatives for health care, financial regulation, economic stimulus and a dozen executive appointments and even more judicial ones needed to keep government functioning.”

Of course, Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney to win the 2012 Presidential Election. Romney hammered the poor economy but badly mishandled the immigration issue. After winning the primaries, most experts believe Romney should have embraced the sensible immigration reform bill put together by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. And, Sandy hit the Northeast and Obama took on the Olympian mantle of crisis leadership, aided immensely by hugs from the New Jersey GOP Governor.

Nothing like the good old days, huh? Still, Goodman's predictions did fully materialize … although it took a while.


Enter Donald Trump

Then, four year later, Trump emerged on the scene as the Republican candidate, and he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The Republican Party won the majority in the House of Representatives while the Democrats kept their Senate majority.

The reason for the election win for Trump is greatly debated. Criticisms of Clinton are easier than explanations of Trump's victory. Many viewed their vote as a selection of the lesser of two evils. Trump was seen by many as a political reformer while Clinton was viewed by many as politically corrupt.

Working-class White people, particularly men and women without college education, deserted the Democratic Party in droves. Rural voters turned out in high numbers, as the Americans who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard.

To help achieve his victory, Trump relied upon a White wave of voters in the Midwest. There, Democrats did not find sufficient support, based in part on the lack of votes from Black and working-class voters. To his credit, Trump campaigned in states like Wisconsin and Michigan that pundits said were out of reach. And, it paid off. In the end, Clinton couldn’t rely on Obama’s natural connection to the nonwhite electorate.

Trump ran as an outsider, even against the powers in his own party. This outsider status came at a time when much of the American public reviled Washington (although not enough to keep them from re-electing most congressional incumbents running for re-election).

Then, of course, FBI director James Comey released his letter announcing that they were reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. What a timely service to Trump.

All of this led to a victory for Donald Trump. He moved into the White House and the Republican “brain” withered into unprecedented demise as it became trapped in the cult of their chosen leader.

In 2018 Charles P. Pierce wrote in Esquire

Not until the Republican Party as it is presently constituted has been wiped from the memory of man can a sensible, reason-based, science-friendly center-right party rise in its place. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted exists solely to launder corporate money, and its primary national imperatives are bigotry, plutocracy, and ratfcking. It doesn't believe in constitutional norms any more than it believes in climate science. The prion disease has progressed beyond all recall. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted needs to be put out of its misery before we are put out of ours …

This is very much a national story, and it is a national story because it illustrates perfectly how fully the prion disease has destroyed the higher functions of the Republican brain. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted is the greatest threat to the American republic since Appomattox. It needs to die, fast and hard, and the ground salted so that it does not rise again.”

(Charles P. Pierce. “The Republican Party Is the Single Greatest Threat to the American Republic.” Esquire. December 03, 2018.)

So, the threat to America took wings in Trump's presidency. Voters disgusted with Washington politicians and with great aversion to the old establishment put an unqualified, narcissist autocrat in the highest office in the world. The results were predictably dire.

The Doomsday Clock – a globally recognized indicator of the vulnerability of our existence updated every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors (which includes 13 Nobel laureates) – moved to just 100 seconds to "midnight," closer to destruction than at any point since the clock was created in 1947.

Recent military actions, the demise of pacts freeing nations to deploy land-based missiles over ranges that leave little time for a response, and a growing number of disasters linked to global climate change resulting from the continued consumption of fossil fuel are among the major causes for this frightening step closer to the end of human existence as we know it.

Add to the mix Trump's failed pandemic response, his racist immigration policies, his standoffs with Black Lives Matter activists, and his significant encouragement of right-wing extremist groups under his watch, and Sandy Goodman's evaluation of the Republican culpability in the threat to our existence is right on.

And the majority of Republicans have remained loyal to Trump after all his bullshit – even after four years of his failed leadership and outrageous lies cements his rank as the poorest president of all time.

A Quinnipiac University poll out December 10, 2020, indicated that 77 percent of Republicans believe there was fraud in this election. And while most of the talk of fraud comes from Trump himself – he’s the spark – the fuel is all around us. And the momentum is fueled by fringe fiction, not facts.

Donald Trump has greatly exacerbated the threat of domestic terrorism. According to a CBS News poll conducted by YouGov from January 13 to January 15, 2021, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America's way of life comes from their fellow citizens. Why? Those saying "no" to President Biden's legitimacy are the firmest Trump supporters, and 9 in 10 say they would vote for Mr. Trump again in 2024.

And, the denial of the election result fiasco thrills dictators like Vladimir Putin, who delighted in seeing Republicans make a the mockery of democracy. As the GOP became the biggest threat to our elections, Trump's GOP operatives in the trenches – citizens and elected officials – did the dirty work to make sure it happened.

In their effort to put Trump in the White House in 2016, the Russians played on American naiveté by spreading lies on social media and hacking into Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails. They accomplished their primary goal, but they lacked the political machinery necessary to control the outcome on a state-by-state level.

Right before the vote in 2020, Dahleen Glanton of the Chicago Tribune said …

This time around, the Republicans are doing what the Russians could never accomplish. The GOP is engaged in an outright campaign to deny Americans an opportunity to vote.

The biggest threats to Americans are the unfair restrictions and unnecessary requirements voters in Republican-controlled states are being forced to endure in the attempt to suppress their vote.

The Russians and the GOP have succeeded in convincing us that our electoral process is flawed. Our doubts about the sanctity of the upcoming election have escalated nearly to the point of panic.

(Dahleen Glandton. “Column: Voters have more to fear from the GOP than the Russians this year.” Chicago Tribune. September 30, 2020.)

Trump remains the golden boy of the party. The CBS poll showed Republican Trump supporters overwhelmingly oppose him being impeached for a second time. And while most Americans consider Republicans who voted to impeach as "principled," these Republicans consider them "disloyal." Three in four of them want congressional Republicans to oppose Mr. Biden as much as possible, rather than find common ground. Violence and sedition surfaced in the infamous January 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” riot – this mob remains pissed and ready to inflict further destruction in places all around the country.

In December 2019 – before the 2020 election – Renée Graham of the Boston Globe said ...

Trump had no issue trying to get a foreign government to kneecap a political rival and skew the election in his own favor. In modern political history, when has the GOP ever cared about the sanctity of our elections? For months, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has ignored a bill designed to protect elections, the House-passed “For the People Act,” which among many sweeping proposals, seeks to expand voting rights.

Without fair elections, America can never be a democracy in full. That’s exactly what Republicans want. This, too, is a crime in progress, as the greatest threat to the Constitution thrives not in Russia, but as malfeasance stretching from conservative groups and state officials to the White House.”

(Renee Graham. “Russia isn’t the biggest threat to our elections. It’s Republicans.” Boston Globe. December 17, 2019.)

Sandy Goodman predicted the danger of the Republicans' threat to feed the rich and starve the poor, and, above all, make the nation ungovernable. “Control what you can” and “create chaos” and “blame President Obama” – this was the Republican game plan for the creation of their Frankenstein monster Trump.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, to announce the 2021 time of the Doomsday Clock. There is little doubt that the movement of the hands will show a terrifying response to the disaster that was 2020. And, there is no doubt at all that Republicans have pushed the world closer to oblivion with their dangerous policies and their ultra-dangerous, autocratic president.




Monday, January 18, 2021

Guns, Cowboys For Trump, and Prayer Inside Capitol Insurrection -- A Jesus Jihad

 


According to a federal criminal complaint, Couy Griffin, an Otero County, New Mexico commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump, was arrested in Washington. D.C. on January 17 and now faces a single charge of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority. Federal authorities said Griffin entered a restricted section of the U.S. Capitol during the deadly pro-Trump incursion on January 6, 2021, and led rioters in prayer.

In a Facebook post on the Cowboys for Trump page, Griffin later said he planned to return to the U.S. Capitol on January 20 for a possible “2nd Amendment rally” that would include “blood running out of that building,” the affidavit says.

At a January 14 Otero County meeting, Griffin told other officials that he planned on taking a rifle and a revolver when he returned to Washington, according to the affidavit.”

(Tim Stelloh. “Cowboys for Trump founder arrested after allegedly leading Capitol rioters in prayer.” NBC News. January 17, 2021.)

NBC News reported that a Cowboys for Trump videographer told authorities that after he and Griffin saw the group push past security barriers, they scaled the Capitol building’s wall before making their way to an outside deck.

There, Griffin used a bullhorn to lead the group in prayer, the document states. Yes, "prayer."

In a video cited by the affidavit, Griffin also told the crowd that it was a “great day for America” and that “people are showing that they’ve had enough.”

People are ready for fair and legal elections, or this what you’re going to get,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Additional information about Griffin’s arrest was not detailed in the document, and it wasn't clear whether he had retained a lawyer. A message left with Cowboys for Trump was not immediately returned on January 17.

In an interview with police, Griffin said he had gotten “caught up” with the crowd and that authorities never asked him to leave, according to the affidavit. He told authorities he left the area peacefully and hoped there could be a change in leadership “without a single shot being fired.” He added that there's “no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom,” the affidavit says.


Cowboys for Trump proports support for “our sitting President Donald J. Trump and his Make America Great Again policies.” The group reportedly believes securing the border, protecting the Second Amendment, and protecting the lives of the unborn are “the most vital and key aspects in America's Greatness.” They believe that the liberal progressive agenda is “drastically moving us away from the identifying principles that make us proud to be American.”

The Cowboys for Trump website claims …

Cowboys for Trump has developed a great relationship with a great President. In 2019, C4T founder Couy Griffin spoke with the President on three different occasions. The first of which was on February 25th after a 170 mile horseback ride in which Couy led a group of 13 into our nations Capitol. The President called Couy at the end of the trip where the topic of discussion was forest health in the Lincoln National Forest located in Otero County,New Mexico. It was a very productive conversation that has led to greater efforts in Forest Management.

On September 12th of 2019 Couy Griffin, also a County Commissioner in Otero County, was invited into the White House to sit at the desk with the President and further speak about issues affecting his home state of New Mexico. Griffin accredits this to being the greatest honor of his life to sit at the desk with the greatest President in American history.”

(“Cowboys For Trump.”cowboysfortrump.org. 2021.)

Yet, on January 14 Griffin told the County Board of Commissioners …

I’m gonna leave either tonight or tomorrow. I’ve got a .357 Henry Big Boy rifle lever action that I’ve got in the trunk of my car and I’ve got a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero that I’ll have underneath the front seat on my right side and I will embrace my Second Amendment.”

Religious groups getting “caught up” in Trump's insurrection? Trespassing on Federal property and leading prayers for the rioters? These actions to refuse the results of the 2020 Election and hold Congress captive are about as unholy and anti-Christian as it gets.

Exit polls in 2020 showed that 75% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump, compared with 81% four years ago. The group, which makes up almost one in five of the US electorate, carries significant weight and was credited with being a major factor in Trump’s 2016 victory. The slip of six percent is significant, yet the overwhelming majority of Evangelicals still support Trump's chaotic presidency.

Donald Trump inspires misguided religious fervor. He does so with full knowledge of the consequences. And, he does so for purely personal and political gains. Christians who follow his insanity do so for the same reasons. Violence is their means to war on the infidels' opposition.

With supreme hypocrisy, Trump has ham-stringed religion. His administration’s narrow understanding of religion and public policy – one that privileges the concerns of a select group of conservative White Christians, mostly evangelical and who by no means represent all of America’s faithful, is terribly destructive to the honest faith communities in America.

A commonly held but misleading perception in U.S. public discourse is that the Trump administration’s policies have been largely favorable to faith communities. However, like much of the results of his presidency, Trump's approach to Christians weakens rather than strengthens them. His toxic policies filled with vulgarity, incivility, and inexplicable cruelty have negatively affected American culture and its churches.

Christian values are ignored when a president separates families and cages children at the border. Also, a Christian leader does not fail to protect Americans from the coronavirus pandemic – an ineptitude that has contributed to almost 400,000 deaths, which are disproportionately of Black people and other people of color.

This president, who claims he defends the sanctity of life, clearly shows he values electoral politics over American lives. Not to mention, he lies, lies, and lies while continuing to deny he lost the 2020 election. Trump authored the January 6 uprising in Washington D.C. with the most egregious falsehood in presidential history.

The Center For American Progress reports that Trump doesn't represent the Christian majority in the United States. Instead, his so-called support of Christianity centers on what he claims to do for White Evangelicals …

To understand the needs and concerns of all American faith communities, it is important to first understand the religious diversity of the nation. While 3 in 4 Americans identify with a religious tradition, only 15 percent identify as White Evangelicals, according to the 2019 American Values Atlas Survey.

Yet this small proportion of the population tends to garner a disproportionate share of attention concerning religion in the public discourse on national politics. Their concerns certainly dominate how the Trump administration’s impact on faith communities is perceived at large.”

(Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, Maggie Siddiqi, and Samantha Behar. “How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Faith Communities.” Center For American Progress. September 21, 2020)

The research also shows that Trump administration has ushered in an alarming uptick in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes, and its policies have contributed to a climate conducive to White nationalism. At the same time, the administration has turned its back on religious minorities in China and on refugees fleeing religious persecution around the world.

Now, people like Couy Griffin – a rabid supporter of Trump's religious meanderings – weaponize a narrow set of conservative Christian beliefs in order to harm others. Feeding on the president's phony support of religion – including his photo op with a bible, his pro-life Supreme Court selections, and his self-proclaimed declaration of being “The Chosen One” – many faith leaders sell their souls for his political favor.

These “Christians” in cahoots with Trump now support a violent, armed takeover of democracy – a Jesus Jihad at the Capitol to kidnap Congress. Good old Cowboy Griffin, mixing forest management with Trump's f-upped vision of God and country, is out for blood. He's praying with fellow anarchists, blessing their twisted insurrection to “Stop the Steal” and to annihilate those heathen, non-believing Democrats who, if not stopped, will take their guns and their precious ideals of rightful predestination.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to forgive the trespasses of those religious kooks who are actively involved in Making America Great Again. At first, I thought maybe they just didn't see the real Donald Trump, but now I understand they do “see” him – they adore him and love his true agenda – White nationalist politics based on privilege, force, and a complete lack of support for separation of Church and State. Their religion is championed by a bigoted leader who thinks he is a god and who gladly serves their common beliefs … a leader who … God knows … condones the overthrow of the democracy of the United States of America.

More than any other time in my life of nearly 70 years, I feel the country is in desperate need of deliverance from evil. For thine, our Father – not Donald Trump's … and certainly not Cowboy Griffins's – is the power and the glory forever. Amen.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Many Banners of Insurrection: Trump's Lost Cause Battle Flags

 


Flags are the most powerful artifact ever designed. Graphic marks, instantly gain emotional weight when emblazoned on a piece of cloth.

They’re powerful because they’re visible symbols of our identity. More than a cardboard sign, flags are dynamic. They communicate ideas quickly especially when hoisted to the heavens. This contributes to the effect of a bigger, more unified rally behind a cause.”

Laura Scofield, graphic designer and member of the North American Vexillological Association

Those thousands of flags hoisted by Trump supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C. on January 6 were, as a whole, a twisted “ideological quilt” for those who believe that the US election was stolen from Donald Trump. The banners symbolized bold aggression in the face of a peaceful transfer of power after a free and fair election.

Why do his supporters feel obligated to display the damned things as part of their belief in the Cult of Trump? After all, don't those large banners with metal poles have to be a pain in the ass to haul around all day at a rally or at a protest? Besides, why do they employ them more as angry battle pennants of war than as sacred symbols of conscience?

Supporting a false and lost cause, Trump's faithful proudly toted flags of all kinds – including banners of hate and violence – as they followed their leader's order and marched on the Capitol during that infamous day in January. In their hands, those flags seemed to take on the anger of the frenzied mob personifying the deadly goals of their insurrection. Racist, white supremacist, and extremist symbols pronounced the evil intent of the toxic mix. It was a sickening spectacle of violence. It was clearly insurrection.

Among the many flags spotted there were the following:

America First flag, QAnon flag, Upside-down American flag, Calvin Peeing on Biden flag, Republic of Kekistan flag, Three Percenters flag, Stop the Steal flag,Trump Rambo flag, Unleash the Kraken flag, and historical flags including Culpeper Minutemen (1775), Betsy Ross flag (1776), Gadsen flag (1777), Come and Take It flag (1835), and the Confederate Battle Flag (1863).



Excuse the French, but each sick, seditious movement and every quirky niche of right-wing America has a fucking flag. And most of those who carry these banners want to wave them in your face without regard for your feelings and even use their masts to beat you into submission. Envisioning these flags as marks of character, bad actors continue to debase the very material of their being while ripping apart the sacred fabric of American democracy.

Trump, a lover of political theater, employs flags as colorful symbols of his self-professed patriotism and his nationalistic leadership. In his uber-egotistical mind, flags bolster a manly image and help carry his vision of White warfare to the masses – they serve not only as a means of identification but also as rallying emblems for his showy, garish gatherings. Like a Nazi leader long ago, the juvenile leader loves a parade and a spectacle featuring might and power.

The Trump faithful also use banners to draw attention to their unquestioned loyalty for various causes that emphasize their penchant for deep partisan rifts. His supporters brandish flags to put on full display their vision of “Making This Country Great Again.” They insist that the United State is their country – no place for Black and Brown Americans – and that socialistic liberals want to take it away from them including their guns, their God, and their precious claims of predestined Manifest Destiny.

Why? Because they mindlessly play Follow the Leader to protect their own White fragility. Waving a flag makes them feel as if they are recognized as bold warriors, or ninjas, or some other kind of fantasy-driven bad asses. In reality, most of banners display a firm belief in fascism. The flag-waving Trump-patriot is primarily a far-right, authoritarian White ultra-national characterized by beliefs in dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

Surveying the footage from the attack on the Capitol, artist-activist Mirko Ilić recognized several neo-Nazi symbols in the crowd. As curator of the Tolerance Project and a scholar on white supremacist iconography, he says watching the mayhem at the Capitol felt a bit like déjà vu.

Ilić, who was born in the former socialist republic of Bosnia, explains …

This is how things started in Yugoslavia. White supremacists cling to fascist iconography because Hitler’s army demonstrated how potent flags can be when seen en masse.

In my opinion, branding was truly invented by Nazi Germany. It was total design. We have to be vigilant about these symbols because they’re like tea leaves. You can see the future.”

(Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk. “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection.” Quartz. January 07, 2021.)

Trump also displays the American flag – our precious Old Glory – for pretentious effect. He and his loyal followers are jingoistic bullies – Love It or Leave It throwbacks – who preach liberty and loyalty as extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive, nationalistic policies. John H. Evans, a sociology professor at the University of California-San Diego, says …

Trump and his supporters have also managed to shift the meaning of the flag itself. After all, he notes, there are also two ways to interpret the flag. It can be inclusive, representing a diverse group of people who unite behind a set of common principles. Or it can be exclusive, a symbol of nationalism – an 'us' in opposition to a less worthy or virtuous 'them.'

Why would anybody risk their lives for an inanimate object? Because it’s a stand-in for the nation as a whole. Social scientists call that association “civil religion” – the worship of secular objects that represent a national ideal. Think the flag, the Liberty Bell and the original Constitution, written on parchment with quill.”

(Joanna Weiss. ‘Time For My Flag to Go Up’: How Anti-Trumpers Are Reclaiming the American Flag.” Politico. November 29, 2020.)

Trump has long envisioned himself as a defender of patriotic showmanship. Do you remember the following incident?

The town of Palm Beach, Florida, limits its flagpoles to a height of forty-two feet, and its flags to four-by-six feet. In 2006, Trump, at his private club there, Mar-a-Lago, erected a flagpole that stood eighty feet tall. He raised a flag that measured at least fifteen-by-twenty-five feet – a square footage greater than that of some New York City apartments.

Neighbors complained; Trump defied municipal orders to scale back, then sued the town for twenty-five million dollars, claiming infringement of his constitutional and civil rights. He reportedly argued that he needed such a mammoth flag in order to “appropriately express the magnitude” of his “patriotism.”

Paige Williams of The New Yorker, a National Magazine Award winner for feature writing, says …

More than a hundred thousand dollars in municipal fines accrued. The press reported that Trump ultimately agreed to shorten the flagpole by ten feet and relocate it to a less visible spot, and to give a hundred thousand dollars to charitable causes, including a veterans’ organization. The Washington Post revealed, in 2016, that he paid these expenses using money from a nonprofit foundation funded with other people’s donations. The arrangement may have violated laws prohibiting 'nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses,' the newspaper noted.”

(Paige Williams. “The Changing Meaning of the American Flag Under Trump.” The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/the-changing-meaning-of-the-american-flag-under-trump. October 14, 2020.)

In 2003, Woden Teachout, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, wrote a book, Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism, which explores how the American flag “moves from one meaning to another.”

Teachout associates the Trump-era use of the flag with a “rhetoric of threat and strength and defense. She said …

The flag seems to serve as a kind of legitimacy for some of these groups in terms of how they think of themselves. Trump’s flag rhetoric rarely involves the language of sacrifice or shared purpose. It’s about fighting and winning.”

(Paige Williams. “The Changing Meaning of the American Flag Under Trump.” The New Yorker. October 14, 2020.)

Paige Williams also reported …

The conflation of Trump and the flag has become so pervasive that progressives have reported feeling reluctant to buy property in areas rife with the flag. Just before the 2018 midterm elections, Bruce Watson, a writer living in western Massachusetts, lamented that liberals and progressives had 'shied away from the flag.' He warned that 'ceding the nation’s most enduring symbol to one party is just bad politics' and said the flag is 'the symbol of we, the people – including those who 'staunchly oppose the president’s policies and behavior.'

Watson noted, 'Even if it festoons every Trump rally, the flag belongs to all of us.' What Teachout noted more than a decade ago holds true today: 'The story of the flag is a story of a country in search of itself.'”

(Paige Williams. “The Changing Meaning of the American Flag Under Trump.” The New Yorker. October 14, 2020.)

The American Flag belongs to all of us. No faction or group can usurp the meaning of the banner for its own purposes. When one aggregation does this and claims ownership of the ideals represented in its stars and stripes, they soil the canton and the field of the hallowed symbol. Shouldn't anyone who waves the national banner understand its intended symbolism?

No amount of supporters can overcome and take hostage the intended meaning of the Flag of the United States of America. The “Might Makes Right” philosophy of MAGA supporters is an anathema to American democracy. Our flag represents inclusion and an undying defense of all principles of democracy. It is not “owned” by any one faction of Americans just as the Capitol is not “owned” by hoodlums and anarchists.

The stripes that represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars that represent the 50 states of the Union belong to all regardless of their race, religion or political creed. Long live the Red – that symbolizes hardiness and valor – the White – that symbolizes purity and innocence – and the Blue – that represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. Diversity in unity is our strength. Lunatic-driven insurrection must be defeated.

Pardon me one last time as I close this entry.

The other despicable banners of lost history and of hate and violence employed in the “Stop the Steal” coup must be taken down and relegated to storage in their proper places – if they even have a bona fide setting at all. I'm sure many will continue to be displayed in the dirty backrooms of political criminals and far from the eye of true patriots.  

Never again in our blessed nation should an angry, seditious mob wave them as instruments of treason. And, never again should anyone professing to be a patriot support a fucking, egotistical, lying autocrat bent on power and domination. His White nationalistic ass should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Only this just punishment will forever define him as the loser and the disgrace he is.




Saturday, January 16, 2021

Yes, We Have NO Vaccine Reserves: The Trump Administration's Latest Scandal


The United States fell far short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of 2020, and many health officials are frustrated immunizations aren’t moving faster, especially as Covid-19 infections and deaths spike nationwide.

Some public health experts have focused on the supply side, pressing vaccine manufacturers to pick up the pace and urging the federal government to send out doses to individual states faster, which led both President-elect Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to promise to release all available reserve doses.

But officials also say the rollout is also facing delays because vaccination sites don’t have enough capacity, which explains why millions of doses were shipped to states but are sitting unused.”

(Joe Walsh. “U.S. Has No Covid-19 Vaccine Reserve Despite Trump Administration’s Claims, Report Says.” Forbes. January 15, 2021.)

On January 12, the Trump administration announced that it was going to release the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses it was holding in reserve to be used as second shots, days after President-elect Joe Biden announced his plan to do the same.

But there is no reserve anymore, the Washington Post reported Friday: The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed in charge of vaccine production had already begun shipping out that stockpile of second doses since the end of December.

So, the Trump administration's announcement on Tuesday was simply bullshit.

This is the latest, but not the first scandalous action of the Trump's administration's handling of the vaccine rollout.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Operation Warp Speed leaders waited two months to move forward on a CDC plan to start helping states prepare for the mass vaccination campaign. The CDC had wanted to start helping states plan in June how to get people vaccinated. 

But officials at Operation Warp Speed rebuffed the agency’s plan for distributing vaccines. They adopted a similar plan in August only after exploring other options – and then held the release of the CDC’s playbook for states for two weeks for additional clearance and to put it out with another document, the officials said.

(Betsy McKay, Rebecca Ballhaus and Stephanie Armour. “Covid-19 Vaccine Leaders Waited Months to Approve Distribution Plans.” The Wall Street Journal. January 15, 2021.)

Chas Danner of nymag.com reports …

Operation Warp Speed leaders apparently made the shift after becoming more confident about the vaccine supply chain, believing that they would be able to rely on the two vaccine manufacturers to supply the second doses states needed as booster shots directly off the factory line, negating the need for a federally withheld stockpile.

To be clear, it appears that states will still be able to get the second doses they need moving forward, but they have not, and will not, be getting additional doses of the vaccine as the Trump administration indicated they would …

And as the Washington Post report highlights, the omission is particularly galling since Azar and CDC director Robert Redfield also announced and promoted a new federal guidance greatly expanding who should be eligible to receive the vaccine first:

[Azar] did not say the original policy had already been phased out, or that the stockpile had been exhausted. Signaling to states that they would soon see expanded supply, he also urged them to begin vaccinating adults 65 and older and those under 64 with a high-risk medical condition. Officials in some states embraced that directive, while others said suddenly putting hundreds of thousands of additional people at the front of the line would overwhelm their capacity."

(Chas Danner. “Vaccine Reserves the White House Released This Week Don’t Exist.” Intelligencer. nymag.com. January 15, 2021.)

Alex Azar told NBC News on Friday, January 16 …

We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people. So we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore. We’ve made that available to the states to order.”

Mismanagement, political posturing, delaying, and lies, lies, lies – from the beginning, Trump did not take the steps necessary to control the pandemic. In fact, even before Covid-19, Trump and his administration undermined preparedness – eliminating a White House office set up by the previous administration to combat pandemics, making cuts across other key parts of the federal government, and proposing further cuts.

After an outbreak spiraled out of control in New York, the U.S. suffered a wave of huge cases over the summer that other developed nations generally avoided, leading to new and continued surges in both cases and deaths. During this early spike, Trump chose to tell the nation that COVID-19 would soon “disappear.”

And as record cases and deaths continued, Trump chose to downplay the severity of the virus. He undermined the advice of experts, including those in his administration. He told states to “liberate” their economies over health orders. Refusing to be a role model, he refused for months to wear a mask in public. Trump and his administration stopped daily press briefings to inform the public of news about the pandemic. And, lately, Trump has quit the fight against the virus altogether.

German Lopez, senior correspondent at Vox, reported that the Trump administration actively abdicated control of issues to local, state, and private actors.

There was a failure to realize what an efficiently spreading respiratory virus for which we have no vaccine and no antiviral meant,” Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Lopez. “From the very beginning, that minimization … set a tone that reverberated from the highest levels of government to what the average person believes about the virus.”

(German Lopez. Vox. “How Trump let Covid-19 win.” Vox. September 22, 2020.)

On January 15, 2021, U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. announced his incoming administration’s proposal for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan, including $20 billion to mount a national vaccination program.

God bless those who suffer from the pandemic. God bless our brave and loyal first responders. And, God bless America as it struggles through the failed efforts of an autocratic, narcissistic leader who has inflicted permanent damage on the institutions of our democracy.


Sedition By Any Other Name Would Smell As Foul -- The 2021 Attack On America

 


The coordinated attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of insurrectionists was a dark day for our democracy.

It was not a First Amendment-protected protest. It was not a political rally. It was a seditious and treasonous act. Not since the British burned down the White House in 1814 has an institution of our government been defiled in such an egregious and ugly manner.

In the five years since Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower and announced his candidacy for President, we have seen an unprecedented and abnormal rise of violent right-wing extremism in the United States and beyond.”

    Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

After the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021 – after the destruction, after the death, and a week before the inauguration of President Joe Biden – Americans are witnessing the nation's capital in lockdown as 25,000 National Guard members secure the city.

Washington D.C. is closing down as the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of further uprisings, including threats to lawmakers and federal monuments, and the possibility of armed groups demonstrating in the city before and on January 20.

In addition, the FBI has warned that armed protests by violent Trump supporters were being planned in all 50 state capitals as well as in Washington D.C. for the days leading up to the inauguration. Governors like Ohio's Mike DeWine have authorized National Guard members to conduct training and be prepared in case called upon to police such protests.

Imagine. This is the most hostile transition in history.

The public usually gathers on the National Mall to watch the inauguration, but this year officials asked that people stay away and participate online instead. National Park Service officials told NBC News that the entire National Mall may be closed to the public on Inauguration Day,

We're not asking people to come to D.C. for this is a major security threat, and we are working to mitigate those threats,” D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said. "I remain concerned. I've been concerned before today will be for this weekend, and beyond."

Imagine. The disgrace the nation now suffers is unparalleled.

As a child of the Cold War, I remember hearing the words of late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev: “We will take America without firing a shot ... We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.” Never, never did I expect to wake up to an America so torn by political unrest that I fear Khrushchev may be right.

Imagine. A monstrous destructive force has been energized by an American president.

It has never been more clear: right-wing extremism directly endangers our nation and jeopardizes our democracy. As Jonathan Greenblatt reports, “This is not an exaggeration. It is the embodiment of a clear and present danger.”

(Jonathan Greenblatt. “White Supremacism Is a Domestic Terror Threat That Will Outlast Trump.” Time. January 07, 2021.)

Imagine. Some politicians still deny the source of the danger from within.

The evidence is clear. The domestic terror threats from White Supremests and right-wing extremists are ripping the threads of American unity while their prejudiced causes are blooming under the tent of the Republican Party. Consider the following:

  • Overall hate crimes have skyrocketed in recent years to the highest in over a decade, and bias-motivated murders reached a record high in 2019. According to FBI statistics (2020), these hate crimes have surged nearly 20 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump

  • Hate is up across the board. 28 percent of Americans experienced severe levels of cyberhate and online harassment, according to Anti-Defamation League's most recent survey (June 2020).

  • Over the past four years, the Trump Administration has decimated the funding for efforts to prevent radicalization and recruitment into terror groups.

  • A Loyola University School of Law study (G.S. Edwards and S. Rushin. “The Effect of President Trump's Election on Hate Crime.” January 14, 2018) showed that Donald Trump’s election in November of 2016 was associated with a statistically significant surge in reported hate crimes across the United States, even when controlling for alternative explanations.

Larry Rosenthal, chair and lead researcher of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, said that the “Stop the Steal” mob on January 6, 2021, was generally made up of two groups -- right-wing populists, whom he described as part of Trump’s most faithful “rally-goers.” Some of them did not engage in violence and were "not prepared for insurrection." There were also right-wing militia groups that represent two overlapping “currents” of the far right movement: white nationalism and anti-government.

These two themes were also reflected in the mix of symbology scattered in the crowd – far-right symbols that included symbols of the Confederacy, Nazism, white supremacy, and anarchy, experts said.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a sociology professor at American University who studies extremism and far-right movements, said that along with some “violent extremists from within the MAGA or Trump supporting group," the mob included “a toxic mix” of groups from across “the far-right spectrum.”

(Deena Zaru. “The symbols of hate and far-right extremism on display in pro-Trump Capitol siege.” ABC News. January 14, 2021.)

The mob featured Proud Boys, Three-Percenters, and many other far-right groups displaying “OK” White power hand gestures, “Q” (QAnon) symbols, Nazi and White supremacist signs with phrases like "Camp Auschwitz" and "Work Brings Freedom," nooses symbolizing the threat against racial minorities and “The Day of the Rope” for traitors, Confederate flags, and Gadsden flags displaying rattlesnakes and “Don't Tread on Me,”

Imagine. After January 6, America still faces despicable insurrectionist mobs intent on taking the life and limb of their sworn enemies.

The Center For Strategic and International Studies White reports that supremacist networks are highly decentralized. Most believe that whites have their own culture that is superior to other cultures, are genetically superior to other peoples, and should exert dominance over others.

Many of these white supremacists also adhere, in varying degrees, to the Great Replacement conspiracy – popularized by French writer Renaud Camus in his 2012 book Le Grand Remplacement. The conspiracy claims that whites are being eradicated by ethnic and racial minorities – including Jews and immigrants.

Lately, under Trump, some of the GOP's most stalwart voices have drummed up a more explicit accusation that immigrants are here to steal the very essence of America and replace it with something foreign – an idea plucked directly from the Great Replacement conspiracy. Intermingled with a "white genocide" conspiracy theory, it proposes that a variety of factors, such as an influx of nonwhite immigrants, multiculturalism, and falling birthrates among white Europeans, will result in white populations losing their position as the dominant demographic.

Nikki McCann Ramírez, researcher at Media Matters for America who focused on right-wing misinformation and far-right extremism, says …

The conspiracy theory creates a dangerous dynamic in which believers view immigrants and non-white citizens as an existential threat to their communities. And the theory is not a purely academic endeavor; it seeks to mobilize believers into action against their supposed 'replacement.' This mobilization manifests itself in various ways, including political activism against immigration, efforts to encourage white women to have more children to bolster demographic growth, and, in an extreme form, deadly violence against immigrants and communities of color.”

(Nikki McCann Ramírez. “A racist conspiracy theory called the 'great replacement' has made its way from far-right media to the GOP.” Business Insider. September 07, 2020.)

The right-wing terrorist threat also includes anti-government extremists, including militias and the sovereign citizen movement. Most militia extremists view the U.S. government as corrupt and a threat to freedom and rights. Other far-right anti-government groups mobilized to protect a perceived threat to individual gun ownership rights. Modern militias are organized as paramilitaries that conduct weapons training and other field exercises.

Anti-government extremists, which sometimes blend with white supremacist movements, have used the slang word “boogaloo” as a shorthand for a coming civil war. Several popular Facebook groups and Instagram pages, such as Thicc Boog Line, P A T R I O T Wave, and Boogaloo Nation, have emerged spreading the boogaloo conspiracy.

(Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington. “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States.” Center For Strategic and International Studies. June 17, 2020.)

Imagine. White supremacists, right-wing terrorists, and anti-government extremists plan to again and again run amok and furiously attack their political targets.

Those who attacked the U.S. Capitol repeated again and again that they owned the property and the right to engage in a violent uprising. They had NO such ownership or No such right. No movement, no political party, or no Constitutional authority gave them permission to defile the Capitol and hold Congress captive.

And, now, the anarchists threaten more insurrection. We must not permit this madness. We must treat these violent anarchists like criminals – both those engaging in actions and those who otherwise support their movements – and we must not dismiss their betrayal with some far-fetched political justification. Our nation is under attack. The Cult of Trump cripples the nation. Without immediate attention to stop the mobs and reject the twisted ideology, the nation will continue to fall.


Evil into the mind of God or Man

May come and go, so unreproved, and leave

No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope

That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,

Waking thou never will consent to do.”

From Paradise Lost: Book 5, John Milton


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Organization, Coordination, and Money Behind the Insurrection of January 6, 2021

 

"Our government conceived in freedom and purchased with blood can be preserved only by constant vigilance."

– William Jennings Bryan (1860 – 1925), quote in the Cox corridor of the House of Representatives, United States Capitol Building

Did you ever wonder how all of those riotous Trump supporters got to Washington D.C. to protest on January 6, 2021? Who organized and funded the fateful event? In a relatively short time, many groups of Trump supporters were summoned to protest the official results of the 2020 Presidential Election.

Who provided directions, schedule information, and funds for the insurrection? The coordination of the attack was not happenstance, rather it was well-planned. Those who took part in the pandemonium caused indelible damage to both a sacred institution and to the soul of America. Their garish display of violence stained the nation's capitol and the legacy of democracy.

Besides Donald Trump himself, who was to blame?

After all, many of those in attendance flaunted Trump garb, flags, and other “stop the steal” paraphernalia that must have run a pretty penny. And, not to be judgmental, but lots of the people in the crowd looked as if they were common folks with meager means – in fact, many claimed to be representatives of that poor segment of society. Food, hotel rooms, and transportation could not have been cheap. There had to be considerable funding to support the organized mayhem.

Those who participated were scripted in their divisive actions. Big money played a significant part in the unwarranted protest. So, who helped fund what turned into a major insurrection and one of the darkest days in American political history? The answer is  alarming and revealing of a tangled web of conspirators.

Dark Money and Women For America First

A web of pro-Trump dark money groups helped organize the rally that led to a deadly riot on Capitol Hill. ABC News reported that “President Donald Trump’s political apparatus worked behind the scenes with pro-Trump groups to plan and promote events in Washington, D.C., that ultimately led to Wednesday’s attack on Congress.”

(Will Steakin, John Santucci, and Katherine Faulders. “Trump allies helped plan, promote rally that led to Capitol attack.” ABC News. January 08, 2021.)

The rally, officially known as the “March to Save America,” was largely organized by a 501(c)(4) group known as “Women for America First.” The organization was certified by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit that can engage in limited political activities. These groups are known as “dark money organizations” as they do not publicly disclose their donors.

OpenSecrets (Center For Responsive Politics) estimated that dark money groups injected more than $750 million into the 2020 elections — and that does not account for other dark money that funds propaganda, misinformation, and astroturf organizing. It should not be controversial to subject dark money to sunlight and disclosure. In fact, understanding dark money is essential to voters’ ability to evaluate the merits of political messages – and to know how certain special interests may be trying to curry favor with politicians.

Women for America First is chaired by Amy Kremer, a longtime political operative who was once the head of the Tea Party Express, an organization that was created to support the conservative Tea Party movement.

Mother Jones reported in November 2020 that Kremer’s Tea Party Express was “well known for being run by a political action committee that raised tons of money from small donors and spent most of it on the political consultants who started the PAC rather than on candidates.” Women for America First is essentially part of Trump’s political operation.

(Ali Breland. “ A Massive “Stop the Count” Facebook Group Has Ties to Republican Operatives.” Mother Jones. November 05, 2020.)

Amy Kremer was the chair of TrumPAC, a super PAC supporting Donald Trump's campaign in the 2016 presidential election. TrumPAC later changed its name to “Great America PAC.” In 2017 she unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district.

Women for America First's Facebook pages called on their supporters to be part of what they described as a “caravan” to Washington D.C. for the “March to Save America." event on January 6. Posts said to meet at an address in Virginia on January 5, the day before the now infamous rally, to “join the caravan to D.C.”

Kylie Jane Kremer – Amy's daughter and the executive director of Women for Trump –promoted the rally through a Twitter post retweeted over 16,000 times and, she noted that it was shared by the president himself. (On January 3, Trump tweeted he would be there.) When asked if her organization would accept the results if Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden's win, Kremer said, “we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

(Brian Schwartz. “Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot.” CNBC. January 09, 2021.)

Kylie Jane Kremer on January 1 …

The calvary is coming, Mr. President. January 6th Washington, DC. TrumpMarch.com. #MarchForTrump #StopTheSteal” — in a retweet, which included an image that displayed Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet promoting the event adjacent to text that says, “The President is calling on us to come back to Washington on January 6th for a big protest – ‘Be there, will be wild.’”

(Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson and D'Angelo Gore. “Road to a Second Impeachment.” Factcheck.org. January 12, 2021.)

On January 6, 2021, Women for America First hosted the event under the permit. The Washingtonian obtained the permit used for the rally and reported Kylie Jane Kremer was named on the rally’s permit as the person in charge. The permit says that the anticipated number of attendees was 5,000 people. The application was originally filed on November 24 for January 22 and 23 – the weekend after the presidential inauguration. But it was later amended for January 6.

(Andrew Beaujon. “Here’s What We Know About the Pro-Trump Rallies That Have Permits.” The Washingtonian. January 05, 2021.)

On January 6, Amy Kremer told thousands of self-styled patriots in Ellipse park, south of the White House, in one of many warm-up speeches for Trump …

It is up to you and I to save this Republic. We are not going to back down, are we? Keep up the fight!”

On the Saturday after the riot, Amy Kremer defiantly tweeted …

Joe Biden will NEVER be my president.”

(Joseph Tanfani, Michael Berens, and Ned Parker.”How Trump’s pied pipers rallied a faithful mob to the Capitol.” Reuters. January 11, 2021.”)

Right-wing Radicals

The crowds that rally organizers recruited were joined in Washington by more radical right-wing groups that have increasingly become a fixture at pro-Trump demonstrations – including white supremacists and devotees of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as “a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and cannibals.”

(Joseph Tanfani, Michael Berens, and Ned Parker.”How Trump’s pied pipers rallied a faithful mob to the Capitol.” Reuters. January 11, 2021.”)

Jared Holt, visiting research fellow with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, where he has been focused on extremist online activity, reported Trump's claims fueled increasingly heated rhetoric since the election, Holt says – spiking in the last couple of weeks as Trump doubled down on conspiracy theories like the false and unfounded notion that a company that makes electronic voting systems had deleted votes for Trump.

Holt explains …

"Then it really, really went nuts After Trump promoted a January 6 protest in D.C., a lot of his extremist supporters interpreted this as a call to action for them."

Holt and his colleagues saw fringe social media sites fill with messages organizing logistics for that date, as well as activation of anti-government extremists like militia groups, conspiracy theorists and white nationalist activists "on a scale and volume that we haven't seen at any other point during the electoral process this cycle."

On forum boards like TheDonald and antigovernment and militia movement group chats, those conversations included plans to surround the Capitol on all sides, alongside maps of the U.S. Capitol complex marked with locations of tunnels and entry points.

Holt says …

"And there was discussion specifically of overwhelming police with large crowds and doing that in order to violate laws against carrying weapons and against entering federal buildings.”

(Laurel Wamsley. “On Far-Right Websites, Plans To Storm Capitol Were Made In Plain Sight.” National Public Radio. WOUB. January 7, 2021.)

On “TheDonald.Win" forum, which replaced the banned subreddit The Donald, a user wrote, “Storm the capitol” and another added, “My truck is lifted and I have a plow on it right now. What do you need Mr. President?”

In a separate thread about Congress, someone wrote, “Please, I dare them to defy the constitution while millions of patriots are anxiously waiting to hang them and gun them down in the streets like the tyrants they are.” Posters also expressed hostility towards law enforcement officers for their role in enforcing gun restrictions. Said one user in a thread about the restrictions, “Travel in packs and do not let them disarm someone without stacking bodies.”

(“Extremists and Mainstream Trump Supporters Plan to Protest Congressional Certification of Biden's Victory.” Anti-defamation League. January 05, 2021.)

Oath Keepers announced on January 4 that they will have multiple volunteer "security" teams in Washington D.C. on January 5 and 6, 2021. The organization said their members, who may be "undercover" and not identifiable as Oath Keepers, would provide security for speakers, event attendees and Trump supporters as they walked across the city.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the Proud Boys president, wrote in a late-December post on Parler, a social media platform that has become popular with right-wing activists and conservatives,  …

The Proud Boys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist. We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion. The night calls for a BLACK tie event.”

(A.C. Thompson and Ford Fischer. “Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot.” Frontline. January 09, 2021.)

After the mayhem, the Proud Boys also celebrated on social media. On Parler, one Proud Boys leader posted a photo of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement: “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.”

Other Groups

At the request of Women for America First, “Turning Point Action,” the political action committee arm of Turning Point USA – a campus right-wing group headed by activist Charlie Kirk – added its name to the event after Christmas,

Turning Point spokesman Andrew Kolvet told Reuters that seven buses carrying 350 students were sent by “Turning Point USA” the political action committee arm of Turning Point Action to attend the rally in support of Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud costing him the election.

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, has rejected the argument that everyone who entered the Capital last week was an insurrectionist, saying that many of those taking part were merely showing "bad judgment."

(Ewan Palmer. “Charlie Kirk Says Not Everyone in Capitol Mob Was an Insurrectionist.” Newsweek. January 12, 2021.)

Another group that joined with Women for America First to sponsor the protests was “Stop the Steal,” a network of activists who assembled in the immediate wake of President Trump’s election defeat, to organize rallies around the nation against Biden’s victory.

Weeks before the mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, right-wing activist Ali Alexander – who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement – told his followers that he was planning something big for January 6. Stop the Steal set up a website that billed the event as a “Wild Protest,” a reference to a Trump tweet.”

Alexander said he hatched the plan – coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes – alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.

Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope

We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting. The plan was to change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

(Teo Armus. “A ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer, now banned by Twitter, said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally.” The Washington Post. January 13, 2021.)

Alexander, a felon who has also been identified in media reports as Ali Akbar, gained a large following by live-streaming monologues in which he professed his conservative views and support for Trump. Speaking to Politico Magazine in 2018, he called himself an "interpreter of energy for this period."

Alexander has continued to publish violent rhetoric since the riot. In a new Internet video, he vowed:

We are going to punish the traitors (referring to Republican politicians who endorsed Biden’s electoral victory) The Lord says vengeance is his, and I pray I am the tool to stab these motherf---ers.”

Black Conservatives PAC Fund


Political finance reporter for CNBC Brian Schwartz also says …

A mysterious political action committee once funded by conservative millionaire Robert Mercer promoted both the rally featuring President Donald Trump and the ensuing march on Capitol Hill that led to a deadly riot last week.

The PAC, called the Black Conservatives Fund, promotes itself as 'committed to turning out the black vote and elect black conservatives at every level of government.' The PAC didn’t raise or spend any money in 2020, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. It has shifted primarily to encourage its followers to attend pro-Trump rallies, and it’s not clear who runs the group.”

(Brian Schwartz. “Shadowy PAC once funded by Trump ally Mercer promoted Capitol Hill march that led to riot.” CNBC. January 11, 2021.)

The Mercer family has deep ties to Trump. In 2014, Robert Mercer gave more than $150,000 to the Black Conservative Fund. Since Mercer’s contribution, the PAC has raised money off a mix of smaller checks, ranging from around $200 to more than $2,000. Those who have given in recent years includes retirees, CRP data shows. The PAC has spent nearly $1 million since 2014.

In recent months, the PAC focused more on regularly promoting rallies on its Facebook page. Recently it promoted rallies in Washington, D.C., and Georgia to encourage the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theory effort.

The fund, which has more than 80,000 followers on Facebook, called on people to come to the rally on Wednesday as well as the ensuing march on Capitol Hill. The Facebook post was published on its page Jan. 5, a day before the rally.

The post disappeared from the group’s Facebook page after CNBC reached out to the committee last week through its general email address. CNBC captured a screen shot of it.

It says: “D.C. becomes FORT TRUMP starting today. Fight to #StopTheSteal with President Trump.” It then shows a list of locations of rallies starting Jan. 5 and carrying through Jan. 6, the day of the riot. One of those locations is the Capitol building.

(Brian Schwartz. “Shadowy PAC once funded by Trump ally Mercer promoted Capitol Hill march that led to riot.” CNBC. January 11, 2021.)

The Rule of Law Defense Fund

New investigation by NBC News has revealed the day before pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building, people received an encouraging phone call from a group of Republican attorneys general telling them to "march.”

The group – the Republican Attorney General Association – is made up of some of the nation's highest-ranking law enforcement and legal officers. RAGA is a 527 political organization that helps elect Republican attorneys general and can accept unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations.

RAGA received significant funding from numerous corporations in 2020, including Koch Industries ($375k), Comcast Corporation ($200k), Walmart ($140k), Home Depot ($125k), Amazon ($100k), TikTok ($75k), 1-800 Contacts ($51k), Chevron ($50k), The National Rifle Association ($50k), Monsanto ($50k), Facebook ($50k), Fox Corporation ($50k), Uber ($50k), Coca Cola ($50k), Exxon ($50k), and Google ($25k).

Its fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, disseminated robocalls to people urging them to head to the Capitol on January 6, according to NBC News.

RLDF appeared in a list of groups “Participating in the March to Save America” on the “March to Save America” website alongside entities including Stop the Steal, Turning Point Action, Tea Party Patriots and others. (MarchtoSaveAmerica.com has been taken down but an archived version of the website can be accessed through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

A voice on the RFDL robocall said …

I’m calling for the Rule of Law Defense Fund with an important message. The march to save America is tomorrow in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse in President’s Park between E St. and Constitution Avenue on the south side of the White House, with doors opening at 7:00 a.m.

At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, 202-796-5838.” 

(Jamie Corey. “REPUBLICAN ATTORNEYS GENERAL DARK MONEY GROUP ORGANIZED PROTEST PRECEDING CAPITOL MOB ATTACK.” Documented.com. January 07, 2021.)

The Rule of Law Defense Fund is closely tied to the Republican Attorney General Association, NBC News reported. The two share offices and funding. Staff members collaborate and work on the same projects.

In a statement from organization chairs and attorneys general Maura Healey and Aaron Ford, the Democratic Attorneys General Association said of the action …

"It is not enough for Republican Attorneys General to denounce the violence at the Capitol; they must publicly distance themselves from the Republican Attorneys General Association and its leadership. And we encourage any individual and entities financially-backing the committee to abstain from further supporting an organization that makes such a mockery of the rule of law and our beloved democracy."

(Yelena Dzhanova. “A day before the riot at the Capitol, people received a call from a group of Republican attorneys general urging them to 'march:' report.” Business Insider. January 09, 2021.)

Evidence Being Further Investigated

The evidence proves that the attack on the Capitol was both a sinister and well-planned attack on democracy. The Justice Department has received over 100,000 pieces of digital evidence following the mob violence. Plus, FBI officials say that the bureau has already opened around 170 cases into individual rioters.

Over the last weekend, Apple and Google removed the right’s favored social media app, Parler, from their app stores. Shortly after, Parler’s domain registrars pulled the plug on the site as well, forcing it offline until it found new hosting on Monday.

Twitter banned over 70,000 accounts for pushing QAnon-fueled conspiracies on its platform. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that a large amount of QAnon followers took part in last week’s pro-Trump riot at the Capitol.

Plenty of groups share the blame with Trump for the hateful insurrection. As officials of law enforcement now sort out who to charge with what, America comes to grips with the fact that the siege at the Capitol marked the culmination of Trump's years-long quest to cultivate a fiercely loyal base that would do anything for him. He did so by playing on their fears and resentment, Then, he lured them with his incessant lies about election fraud, and he manipulated them with his own evil, misguided conduct.