Saturday, January 9, 2021

Last Call For Looking Black At The Week

Black author and speaker Jim St. Germain sums up the week at Vulture, and nothing accomplishes that more effectively than the photo of this would-be revolutionary from Wednesday's terrorist attack right the hell here.

The picture, taken by Win McNamee of Getty Images, has circulated widely and generated many silly memes. In an Instagram Story by Jamie Foxx, the intruder is saying “Hi, mom! I made it!” I liked that one, but I prefer to think of him saying “Hi, mon,” like a member of the Jamaican bobsled team. Like all great photographs, the image fires the imagination. I believe it should be printed, framed, and hung in the National Portrait Gallery. In the background, you can see an enormous painting of George Washington displayed in a pompous gold frame. That’s the America white people think we live in — a beacon of democracy, a paragon of dignity. But the photograph itself is the America Black people know. An America where ignorant white people walk off with your shit and smile about it, secure in the knowledge that nothing bad will happen to them. An America built on the theft of labor, land, and life.

On Wednesday, Joe Biden insisted that the ridiculous and violent scene playing out at the Capitol was “not who we are.” Maybe that’s his truth, but it isn’t mine. When I was 15, I was arrested for a nonviolent drug offense. Thanks to Biden and the racist crime bill he sponsored back in 1994, the judge was required to take away my freedom. Like most of us, I ended up voting for Biden anyway, because if you’re Black in America, freedom is the right to choose your oppressor. This week, I figured I’d have to endure a day or two of white people talking about how the fabric of our union is strong. Then the barbarians arrived. They knocked over barriers, scaled the walls, put their boots up on Pelosi’s desk, posed for selfies with cops, got blazed in a senator’s office, and smeared their shit — their actual shit — in the hallways. They caused the world’s most powerful people to cower in the basement. They smashed in the windows like the bad guys breaking into Kevin McCallister’s mansion in Home Alone.

A lot of remarkable photographs emerged from the mayhem, but the Getty Image of my homie Getty, as some of us have taken to calling him, is special. If his hat didn’t say “45,” you might think he’d gone to the Capitol because he wanted to witness Biden’s confirmation. He’s got practical Asics. Skinny jeans. Golden surfer hair and a scarf. His smile is friendly, free of worry, content. It isn’t the bitter grimace of those “bad” white people — the deplorables I’m supposed to fear. It’s the carefree smile of the dad at the farmers’ market who doesn’t realize he just ran over my shoes with a stroller. It’s the smile of the dude who moved into my building and says he loves the neighborhood because it’s so culturally vibrant but is unaware that he’s living in an apartment my grandma could no longer afford. It’s Biden telling a group of Black leaders last month that he’s the “only white boy” who has stood up against white supremacy. It’s a face I know well, the face of unearned power, and it belongs to white people in both political parties.

As it turns out, that face has a name: Adam Christian Johnson. Records indicate he was arrested for a nonviolent drug offense when he was a teenager, just like I was, and got locked up again a year later for violating his probation. But things seem to have worked out well for him. He lives in a six-bedroom house on a golf course in southwest Florida with his wife, a family physician. According to the Bradenton Herald, he studied psychology at the University of South Florida and now makes and sells furniture, which may explain why he was so excited about his find. Over 300,000 Americans are dead from the coronavirus, unemployment is soaring, and this guy looks like he just secured a bag on Antiques Roadshow.

As someone who has survived violence, I’m not happy that five people died at the riot. But I can’t deny that this picture of Mr. Johnson gives me life. It reminds me of another classic American image — a white man dressed in blackface, flanked by velvet curtains with fancy gold trim. Do a Google image search for “the original Jim Crow,” and you’ll see it. Note the bugged-out eyes, the mindless grin, the hand held out in a cheerful wave. For years, white people portrayed us as happy, vulgar fools undeserving of the rights and dignity America supposedly represented to the world. Now the greasepaint has been wiped away, and white people are seeing that they are what they’ve always made us out to be. Some are embarrassed. Some are scared. It’s our turn to be entertained.


Straight up, Biden was never my first choice, but I never hesitated to vote for him in the primaries and again in the general here in KY this year when it became clear that the opposing choice was an authoritarian white supremacist fascist asshole. 
And yes, folks, the face in the picture is the face of white privilege I'm used to seeing, not the asshole rolling coal and flying the traitor confederate flag on the back of his rusted out Ford pickup because I know never to get within 100 feet of them, but the dude in that picture telling me he thinks I'm "surprisingly well-spoken" in the Zoom job interview, the one who has the loud phone conversation about why voting for Trump will help "all of them", the one who is screaming at city council in the viral video about masks violating the First Amendment.

It's not the racist uncle who has gone from FOX News to Newsmax that you've already disavowed that was at this terrorist shindig.  It's the partner at the firm, your brother-in-law you haven't talked to in a while, your youth pastor, your contractor buddy from the softball team, your kid's friend's dad or mom (you know, the one with the pool), it's that guy you went to high school with who has the really, really high number of hunting and fishing photos on Facebook.

So yeah, unmask those guys and have a good laugh at the clowns that they are.

Then help us deal with them.

Mitch's Final Act Of Cowardice

As the book closes on Mitch McConnell's reign as Senate Majority Leader, his final stroke of evil genius is delaying any Senate trial on House impeachment to 1 PM on January 20th, an hour after Trump's term expires, rendering the entire process null and void.

The document, which was first reported by The Washington Post, lays out how the Senate would proceed if the House approves articles of impeachment and transmits them to the upper chamber before or by Jan. 19, when senators are scheduled to resume regular business after the January recess.

McConnell says the most likely scenario if the House impeaches Trump in his final 12 days in office is for the Senate to receive a message from the lower chamber notifying it of the action on Jan. 19. That would then give the Senate the option of ordering the House managers to present those articles on the same day.

Senate Impeachment Rules require that at 1 p.m. on the day after the managers exhibit the articles, the Senate “must proceed to their consideration,” the memo states.

As a result, the Senate trial would not begin until one hour after President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

“The Senate trial would therefore begin after President Trump’s term has expired – either one hour after its expiration on Jan. 20, or twenty-five hours after its expiration on Jan. 21,” the memo states.

The document was confirmed by a source familiar with its contents.

McConnell’s memo notes that the Senate, which is scheduled to hold pro-forma sessions until Jan. 19, the day before Biden is to take the oath of office, cannot conduct any business during those pro-forma meetings without unanimous consent.

The GOP leader notes that would preclude the Senate from acting on any articles of impeachment received from the House until Biden is president, raising an implicit question about the point of such an exercise.

“It would require the consent of all 100 senators to conduct any business of any kind during the scheduled pro forma sessions prior to January 19, and therefore the consent of all 100 senators to begin acting on any articles of impeachment during those sessions,” the memo states.

The document notes the Senate “can receive a message announcing that the House has impeached the President” while the Senate is in recess, but the Secretary of the Senate wouldn’t notify the chamber of the message until the next regular session, which is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Mitch has won on this and he knows it. Even if there were 67 votes to remove Trump, and prevent him from ever holding office again, the Supreme Court would almost certainly rule that the Senate trial was legally moot and that Trump would remain eligible, especially after he pardons himself. It'll be years of legal wrangling ahead, and the state trials are still not certain, and the wrangling over that could take years too.

As I predicted earlier this year, I just don't see Trump held accountable in any way. He'll be back to plague us for a long time.

A Tale Of Capitol Offenses

I’m the floor director for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. My job is to make sure that the House floor runs properly. Any legislative procedure that comes into the chamber falls under my staff’s purview. I came to D.C. after college, in the nineties, and started waiting tables at California Pizza Kitchen while I figured out how to get a job. I remember, when I first started working on the Hill, someone said, “You’ll know when it’s time to leave when you don’t have that tingle when you see the Capitol.” Now I live a mile away, and when I walk to work the sun is behind me, shining on the Capitol, and when I walk out, if I turn around, I see the sun setting over the Capitol. It’s special.

Originally, we’d been planning on spending more than twenty-four hours in the chamber. When the Arizona challenge happened, the Senate paraded out. They took the certified ballots with them in these big, fancy brown boxes that have been used for years.

As the notices came in, I found my old boss, Congressman Jim McGovern, from Massachusetts. I said, “Hey, we might need you up in the chair, just hold tight.” He’s the chairman of the Rules Committee. He knows that sometimes the Speaker just needs a break.

All of a sudden, it hit. They say, “We need to bring the Speaker down.” I asked to not do this so fast that it’s chaotic. Let’s make it look normal. She was not expecting to come down. I said, “Ma’am, we’ve got to go.” We put Mr. McGovern up, she went out the doors, and she was out of my sight. The Majority Leader, the Majority Whip, and the Minority Whip, they were pulled out, too. That was when it really hit people.

It was a weird vibe. Some were calm, some getting agitated, and then you had a machismo from some people. The noise in the chamber picked up. People were really loud, really not listening. I went into the center of the chamber and just yelled, “Everyone sit down, stay calm, let’s get some information!”

Capitol police said, “They’re coming. They’re inside the building.” They told us to pull out escape hoods—the gas masks. They started pointing: “Lock that door, lock that door!” We helped the police move a couple of old, credenza-type bookshelves into place in front of the doors. We become a hermetically sealed room. You’re not supposed to be able to get in. Well, at some point you start hearing: Bang! A couple of members were there. They were going to protect our colleagues, protect our friends, and protect the chamber.

Capitol police decided we’re evacuating. They opened one of the doors into the Speaker’s lobby and started pushing people out. But up in the gallery there’s no easy way out. It’s literally like an obstacle course. I’m pointing and yelling, “Go, go, go! That way! Get through!” The banging on the front door is intensifying. It sounded violent. All of a sudden you hear a crack. It sounded like a gunshot. The police had their guns out. And I just sprinted out of the chamber.

We ran down some stairs, underground into these old, old spaces. Some older folks can’t move all that quickly. It took us a while, but we finally got to, essentially, a holding area.

We looked around the room. We didn’t know what was happening, but we knew the Capitol had been overrun. Someone would say, “We’re missing someone!” The Capitol police would try to find them. And then you have this din, the mechanical filter of a hundred and fifty gas masks—this high-pitched whirring. It sounded like a hundred and fifty kazoos.

It was a weird mix. Remember, this was everyone who’d been on the floor. In one corner, you had all the Republicans who think we stole the election. You can see people looking, thinking, The people outside are here because of what you’re doing. We were also concerned about the fact that many of them don’t wear masks. Some of them were saying they were glad the “protesters” were there. Everybody else, including many Republicans, was figuring out what’s happening, what’s going on with our institution, with our society, with our democracy. And how do we get back? We knew we had to finish that night. It was never a question of if—it was how. That’s part of my job. I can’t really get into this, but we have alternatives to the House chamber, if we need them.

Someone said, “Where are the boxes? Do we still have them?” One of the parliamentarians came over to me and said, “The ballot boxes are safe.” If they’d been stolen or destroyed, to be honest, I don’t know what happens.

I don't know how many times I'll have to say this in the days, months, and years ahead, but this was a planned coup operation. It failed but only just. If the terrorists had gotten their hands on congressional hostages or the boxes with the electoral vote ballots or both, we'd be talking about a very different scenario right now. 

We're going to find out that Trump had shifted executive authority to deploy or not to deploy the DC National Guard under the Pentagon's civilian Defense Policy Board that he stuffed full of loyalists late last year, loyalists like Corey Lewandowski and former 2016 campaign manager David Bossie. I told people then that it seemed like Trump was up to something foul, and five will get you six that the deliberate sabotage of the US Capitol's defense was driven by Trump's people.

They just needed time to get their hands on lawmakers and ballots. They could have forced them to vote for Trump, or destroyed the ballots and forced the issue back to GOP state legislatures, who would have then overturned the election, or forced an electoral vote by the House by state delegation.

Either way, Trump almost ended up winning. We're going to find out just how close we came.

And you know what the worst part is?  This is nowhere near over. Trump still has 10-11 days. The coup failed. Unless Trump fries like bologna in a skillet, the next Republican-led fascist coup will be successful.

There will be a next time, folks.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorist Problem, Con't

There is no remorse for Wednesday's atrocities from the Trumpist terrorist right. There is only the promise of more blood in less than two weeks at the inauguration.

Jalen McAllister said the insurrection "needed to happen." Michel Mullen said lawmakers should be afraid of people like him. And Olivia Durlester is calling for more action against the government.

A day after armed rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced Congress to halt deliberations, participants and attendees at Wednesday's violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol said they still support President Donald Trump and believe they did nothing wrong. They claim they're law-abiding citizens who needed to assault police officers to make their political point.

Racial-justice critics said that unrepentant attitude is just one more example of the white privilege that permitted hundreds of pro-Trump rioters to stream into the Capitol largely unfettered, while Black Lives Matter protesters have been beaten and arrested en masse for far less.

Mullen said he wishes rioters had stayed inside the Capitol longer than a few hours. Mullen, his wife and their three infant daughters drove nearly 3,000 miles in an RV from Washington state to participate. Rinsing tear gas off his fingers on Wednesday evening, Mullen said he wanted to participate to show politicians they should fear the public.

“I think it scares the heck out of some people that on a drop of a hat, we can all show up. It should scare them,” said Mullen, who owns a drain-clearing business. Mullen said authorities allowed rioters into the Capitol building in what he called an effort to temporarily pacify them: "We are having our country stolen from us and we can’t do anything about it."

While the vast majority of participants were peaceful, Wednesday's rally included thousands of people wearing shirts bearing incendiary, anti-government rhetoric, including some that said "MAGA CIVIL WAR" and the date, Jan. 6, 2021. Others carried Confederate flags, nooses and made outright threats of violence toward the nation's elected government, including President-elect Joe Biden.

Many said they hoped their very presence would intimidate lawmakers into altering the course of the 202 presidential election, an effort that failed and even prompted some Republicans to withdraw their objections to the election certification. But other Republicans responded to the pressure: 68 Republicans initially objected to Biden's Arizona win, but that nearby doubled to 127 after rioters left and Congress resumed session, according to media reports.

More violence in the weeks and months ahead is now guaranteed, as I have been warning for months now.

We have a long, hard road ahead, all of us, and we will need to stick together. Trump has to go.

President Donald Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani both mistakenly made calls to Republican Sen. Mike Lee as deadly riots were unfolding at the US Capitol earlier this week, a spokesman for the senator confirmed to CNN -- calls that were intended for another GOP senator the White House was frantically trying to convince to delay the counting of Electoral College votes.  
Lee's spokesman said the calls from Trump and his attorney were intended for Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a newly elected Republican from Alabama. 
The effort by the White House to get Tuberville to delay certification of the votes provides insight into the President's thinking and priorities as a mob of his supporters lay siege to the iconic building. As the President worked to convince Tuberville to delay the process, he and other top White House officials did little to check in on Vice President Mike Pence while he and members of his family were inside the breached Capitol, a source close to the vice president told CNN. 
Trump first called the personal cell phone of Lee, a Utah Republican, shortly after 2 p.m. ET. At that time the senators had been evacuated from the Senate floor and were in a temporary holding room, as a pro-Trump mob began breaching the Capitol.  
Lee picked up the phone and Trump identified himself, and it became clear he was looking for Tuberville and had been given the wrong number. Lee, keeping the President on hold, went to find his colleague and handed Tuberville his phone, telling him the President was on the line and had been trying to reach him. 
Tuberville spoke with Trump for less than 10 minutes, with the President trying to convince him to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in a futile effort to block Congress' certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win, according to a source familiar with the call. The call was cut off because senators were asked to move to a secure location.
So after telling his supporters to go to the Capitol, Trump called Mike Lee in order to get a hold of Tommy Tuberville, in order to get Tuberville to object to any counting that was going on in order to specifically buy Trump time for the next part of his coup plan

We're going to find out some truly sick things about Trump over the next month or six.
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