Saturday, January 16, 2021

Last Call For Getting Kicked Out Of The Club

If Joe Manchin is considering the expulsion of GOP senators Hawley and Cruz over their insurrectionist actions, then it's not a pipe dream, folks.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said the Senate should consider removing Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) via the 14th Amendment over their objections last week to the Electoral College results.

Speaking to PBS’s “Firing Line” on Friday night, Manchin said the Senate should explore the option after a violent mob, riled up by President Trump and convinced by Republicans such as Hawley and Cruz that the election was fraudulent, ransacked the Capitol in one of the darkest points in American democracy.

“That should be a consideration,” Manchin responded when asked if the 14th Amendment should be triggered. “He understands that. Ted’s a very bright individual, and I get along fine with Ted, but what he did was totally outside of the realm of our responsibilities or our privileges.”

The third section of the 14th Amendment reads that no lawmaker holding office “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Critics of Hawley and Cruz, who led the effort in the Senate to object to the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, said the amendment applies to the two senators, whom they blame for inciting the riot with their rhetoric echoing concerns of election fraud and irregularities. Last week’s mayhem resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer and a rioter who was shot by another officer while trying to breach a window in the building.

Several Democrats have called for the two senators’ resignations, while Republicans have rebuked them for their objections, which Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called “dumbass.”

Hawley and Cruz, however, have defended their actions, saying they were trying to address concerns from their constituents about election fraud that were propagated by the president and his allies.
Here's the thing: I bet I can find at least 17 Republican senators, along with all 50 Democrats, who hate Ted Cruz and hate Josh Hawley, and would like to see them dropkicked out the Senate later this month. They've torched bridge after bridge and nobody likes them.

Whether or not they'll countenance expulsion, well, something tells me we'll see.

The Coup-Coup Birds Come Home To Roost, Con't

Boston Globe columnist Talia Lavin reminds us that while there are plenty of armed white supremacist domestic terrorist groups out there, the people who showed up at the US Capitol insurrection were also middle-class white folks who sure loved the rush of being part-time warriors for whiteness.

Following the pro-Trump mob’s Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol building, in which five people died, the CEO of the Ilinois-based data analytics firm Cogensia was fired. Bradley Rukstales is facing federal charges for entering the Capitol alongside a mob that battered police officers with fire extinguishers and metal pipes, deployed bear spray and mace, and smeared the halls of Congress with human feces. In a statement, Rukstales emphasized that this was his first arrest and that this was an uncharacteristic “moment of extremely poor judgment.”

That a prosperous tech CEO might be among the insurrectionists who ran riot in the Capitol — some armed with guns and zip-ties, searching for lawmakers they hoped to harm — might seem, to some, surprising. But Rukstales was not an outlier among the Capitol mob for his prosperity. As the fallout for the coup attempt continues to unfold, the list of those arrested or identified as participants grows: state legislators, lawyers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, realtors, current and former members of the armed forces, and more than two dozen police officers. Prosperous business owner by prosperous business owner, the principal beneficiaries of white supremacy came out in force to defend it.

It’s long been assumed that the most extreme upholders of white supremacy in the United States, those willing to engage in violence on its behalf, are impoverished, uneducated, socially stunted, and confined to their mothers’ basements. In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan wrote about the would-be coupists as “deadbeat dads, YouPorn enthusiasts, slow students, and MMA fans … with bellies full of beer and Sausage McMuffins, maybe a little high on Adderall” — a naked display of classism that happens to also be thoroughly inaccurate. The Washington Post quoted anonymous members of law enforcement agencies as “shocked by the backgrounds” of insurrectionists that included “current and former law enforcement and military personnel as well as senior business executives and middle-aged business owners.” The “toothless Cletus” (as I’ve referred to this much-imagined figure in my work), an uneducated redneck dedicated to racism and anti-Semitism in the shadow of a blighted life, has always been more myth than reality — and images of the Capitol riot underscore the flimsiness of this narrative.

The Trumpists, neo-Nazis, militia members, and QAnon adherents who broke down the doors of the Capitol, wielding improvised and very real weapons, are people who were able to take time off work in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, travel to another city, and make reservations at some of Washington’s swankiest hotels. They were able to devote time and money and resources to buy military gear and use it. They are America’s gentry, golfers, homeowners association members, and school-board warriors and heads of the PTA.

It’s an uncomfortable truth for white America to acknowledge: Those willing to upend the democratic order through violence to further a white supremacist agenda are indistinguishable from the rest of us. They are not even ideological outliers, anymore; a recent Ipsos poll found that 45 percent of Republicans polled approve of the storming of the Capitol. There is no socioeconomic stratum, no geographic location, no level of educational attainment that inures us from the forces of conspiracy and hate, and from the torrid lure of enforcing a white-led order. There is no neighborhood that insulates you, no zip code, no alumni association immune from a force so corrosive it has warped our nation to the breaking point.
The Trumpists are average white Americans, driving Dodge Ram 1500 trucks, shopping at Costco, going to the local megachurch, members of the PTA.

And they also are willing to take up arms to preserve their white privilege.

Trying to bring them down off their hatred high is a long and bitter process, but if we don't do it, this country is going to burn for years. The first step though is acknowledging that the terrorists are next door, the "respected" members of the community, and not the "lone wolf" basement types who certainly couldn't afford to make the trip to DC.

Guns are expensive. Ammo is expensive. Travel to DC is expensive. It's not the guy flipping burgers who's the threat, folks.

No, white America is out here actively rebelling in order to "keep" their white privilege, and there's a whole lot of potential terrorists out there as far as I'm concerned. 

It's well past time to treat them as such.

Georgia On Trump's Mind

New York isn't the only jurisdiction considering charges against Donald Trump after January 20th, as Georgia is looking into Trump's widely-played election interference call pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others ahead of the Senate runoffs.

Prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, an inquiry into offenses that would be beyond his federal pardon power.

The new Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, is already weighing whether to proceed, and among the options she is considering is the hiring of a special assistant from outside to oversee the investigation, according to people familiar with her office’s deliberations.

At the same time, David Worley, the lone Democrat on Georgia’s five-member election board, said this week that he would ask the board to make a referral to the Fulton County district attorney by next month. Among the matters he will ask prosecutors to investigate is a phone call Mr. Trump made in which he pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the state’s election results.

Jeff DiSantis, a district attorney spokesman, said the office had not taken any action to hire outside counsel and declined to comment further on the case.

Some veteran Georgia prosecutors said they believed Mr. Trump had clearly violated state law.

“If you took the fact out that he is the president of the United States and look at the conduct of the call, it tracks the communication you might see in any drug case or organized crime case,” said Michael J. Moore, the former United States attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “It’s full of threatening undertone and strong-arm tactics.”

He said he believed there had been “a clear attempt to influence the conduct of the secretary of state, and to commit election fraud, or to solicit the commission of election fraud.”

The White House declined to comment.

Mr. Worley said in an interview that if no investigation had been announced by Feb. 10, the day of the election board’s next scheduled meeting he would make a motion for the board to refer the matter of Mr. Trump’s phone calls to Ms. Willis’s office. Mr. Worley, a lawyer, believes that such a referral should, under Georgia law, automatically prompt an investigation.

If the board declines to make a referral, Mr. Worley said he would ask Ms. Willis’s office himself to start an inquiry.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, is one of the members of the board and has said that he might have a conflict of interest in the matter, as Mr. Trump called him to exert pressure. That could lead him to recuse himself from any decisions on a referral by the board.
It's important to note that Fulton County DA Fani Willis, as with Tish James in New York, is yet another example of how it's Black women who are leading the way in holding Trump accountable once he's booted out of office Wednesday.

Keep that in mind.

The World Goes Viral, Con't

The planet has reached a pair of grim milestones, 400,000 US COVID-19 deaths and 2 million worldwide.

It's as if 10 of the world's largest commercial jets fell out of the sky, every day for an entire year. 
The official global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 2 million on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The tragic milestone came just over a year after the first Covid-19 death was reported in Wuhan, China. 
While the 2 million figure is horrifying, experts say the real death toll is likely much higher. Only confirmed Covid-19 deaths are included in the tally, which means that people who die without a firm diagnosis may not be included. 
With testing still inadequate in many countries across the world, there might be hundreds of thousands of additional deaths. 
Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said that an analysis of excess mortality suggests that as many as one fifth of coronavirus deaths might not be recorded. 
"We have found that on average, total deaths are 20% higher than reported deaths," he told CNN in an email, adding that the ratio varies substantially across different countries. 
As vaccination programs start rolling out across the world, there is a glimmer of hope -- even though it's likely going to take years for everyone to be offered the shot. 
In the meantime, the pandemic is getting worse. The death toll is rising faster than ever. While it took eight months for the world to record 1 million Covid-19 deaths, the second million came in less than four months. 
A number of countries, including the United States, Germany, Sweden, Indonesia, Israel and Japan recorded their deadliest days of the pandemic in the past week. The number of cases globally is fast approaching 100 million.
Some 20% of the world's COVID dead, and almost 25% of the world's total COVID cases, must be laid directly at the feet of Donald Trump and his regime.  And now the virus is mutating into more dangerous, virulent, and transmissible strains.
The months ahead are going to be brutal.  Joe Biden at least has a plan.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to use FEMA and the National Guard to build coronavirus vaccine clinics across the United States, according to new details of his Covid-19 vaccination plan released by his transition team on Friday.

The Biden administration will also “quickly jumpstart” efforts to make the vaccines available at local pharmacies across the U.S., which should ensure that Americans have access to doses at facilities only miles from their home, according to the plan.

“Here’s the deal: The more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday night. “We won’t get out of it overnight and we can’t do it as a separated nation.”

Drug store chains and pharmacies were supposed to take on a larger role in distributing the vaccine once the government expanded access to more people. But the slower-than-expected rollout has frustrated pharmacy chains. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on the federal government earlier this week to allow states to send more doses directly to pharmacies as they do with hospitals and health departments.

The group estimated that the country’s retail pharmacies could administer at least 100 million doses of vaccines each month, which would exceed the incoming administration’s promise of 100 million shots in 100 days.

The Biden administration has said current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population, adding, “We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms.”

The problem is logistics, and Biden is tackling this head on. 100 million doses per month is the rate we need to get America inoculated by this summer and get us back to work, back to school, and back to being America.

But the next six months are still going to be hell.

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