Sunday, October 31, 2021

Last Call For Getting It In Gear

As Steve M. notes, Democrats have completely failed to turn things around on the perceptions of the infrastructure bill, of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and of their 2022 chances.

The last two Democratic presidents also found themselves in the weeds in their first two years in office. Both watched their parties suffer bloodbaths in their first midterms. But both presidents won reelection, right? So we're not doomed, are we?

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were immensely talented politicians at the top of their game. They were young, vigorous, and charismatic. They were great speakers.

Joe Biden is ... Joe Biden. He's not vigorous, charismatic, or a great speaker. If he's losing the confidence of Americans, does he have the ability to persuade them that he's a steady hand who can steer the country out of trouble?

And does he understand that he should start trying to do that soon?

This moment is reminding me of the fall of 1988, when Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee, blew a 17-point post-convention lead in the polls under relentless attacks from the GOP. Dukakis lost that race because he didn't punch back and he didn't find a way to change the subject when the GOP attacks dominated the news cycle. Joe Biden doesn't seem to know how to make news in a way that helps him. Vice President Harris doesn't seem to have that skill either, or she's not trying because it's believed that she shouldn't upstage the president, or it's been decided that she should keep a low profile because she's not sufficiently well liked, although maybe she'd be liked if some effort were made to change the way the public sees her. Or maybe everyone in the Democratic Party thinks things are going as well as they possibly could.

I don't believed we're doomed -- but we're doomed if Democrats keep doing what they're doing while expecting change to just happen. Democrats need to fight back. They need to fight as hard to win news cycles as Republicans do -- no, harder, because the right-wing media will always amplify Republican propaganda, and the mainstream media prefers right-wing messaging whenever Democrats are actually trying to govern. Democrats have to understand that they're in a more difficult struggle than they were during the Trump years, because the press likes Democrats when they're out of power and Republicans have clearly failed, but the press despises Democrats when they're in power. That sucks, but it's reality, and Democrats need to start acting as if they recognize reality.

Both Clinton and Obama learned to play the game, but only after both suffered catastrophic midterm losses (and Obama suffered them twice, with 2014 being the lowest turnout in my lifetime.)

Both the Virginia race and the vote on Biden's Build Back Better plan happen on Tuesday.

We need to pull off both.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

So it turns out that the Trump team was counting on the insurrectionist mob they created to "convince" VP Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election for Joe Biden, and if the mob killed Pence, well, he had it coming.
As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss.

The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a “siege” in their email exchange.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote to Jacob, referring to Trump’s claims of voter fraud.

Eastman sent the email as Pence, who had been presiding in the Senate, was under guard with Jacob and other advisers in a secure area. Rioters were tearing through the Capitol complex, some of them calling for Pence to be executed.

Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, included Eastman’s emailed remarks in a draft opinion article about Trump’s outside legal team that he wrote later in January but ultimately chose not to publish. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the draft. Jacob wrote that by sending the email at that moment, Eastman “displayed a shocking lack of awareness of how those practical implications were playing out in real time.”

Jacob’s draft article, Eastman’s emails and accounts of other previously undisclosed actions by Eastman offer new insight into the mind-sets of figures at the center of an episode that pushed American democracy to the brink. They show that Eastman’s efforts to persuade Pence to block Trump’s defeat were more extensive than has been reported previously, and that the Pence team was subjected to what Jacob at the time called “a barrage of bankrupt legal theories.”

Eastman confirmed the emails in interviews with The Post but denied that he was blaming Pence for the violence. He defended his actions, saying that Trump’s team was right to exhaust “every legal means” to challenge a result that it argued was plagued by widespread fraud and irregularities.

“Are you supposed to not do anything about that?” Eastman said.

He stood by legal advice he gave Pence to halt Congress’s certification on Jan. 6 to allow Republican state lawmakers to investigate the unfounded fraud claims, which multiple legal scholars have said Pence was not authorized to do
As Josh Marshall reminds us, this is basically the biggest piece of evidence yet in the "Trump regime soft coup" column.

These exchanges capture something we suspect and know in some way. But here we’re getting the details, the documentary evidence. Eastman didn’t recoil when the President’s rally escalated to violence. He clearly saw the inside coup plot and the insurrectionists on the street as part of the same effort. This isn’t surprising to most of us. The insurrectionists were laying siege to Pence in the Capitol because Pence wasn’t going along with the plan. And the answer was to go along with the plan. Eastman recognized the insurrection as the paramilitary wing of the coup plot he was part of and as the Capitol was under siege used it as a cudgel to force Pence’s hand.

Again, this won’t come to a shock to many of us. But here we’re getting the receipts. At least the first of them. To date the actions of Eastman, the President, his various coconspirators – during the hours of the assault on the Capitol – have largely been a black box even as we’ve learned more and more granular detail of the ransacking of the Capitol itself. We’ve had brief glimpses in reported accounts. There was the notorious phone call between Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in which McCarthy demanded Trump call off his insurrectionists. Trump notoriously responded, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

In real time, Trump’s message was the same as Eastman’s. You brought it on yourself and they’re my guys. The way to lift the siege is to do the right thing and support the coup. They both recognized the insurrectionists as their foot soldiers and expressed as much in real time to the members of Congress under siege. And of course they did since they were their foot soldiers.

It’s hardly surprising that both Trump and Eastman were cheering on the assault on the Capitol in real time or seeing it in the same terms. They were part of the same war room. They were leading it. Directly or indirectly McCarthy was the source of those quotes from the conversation with the President. It was reportedly anger and expletive filled. Of course he later fell in line. Much of the resistance to the investigation was his effort not to be placed under oath to reveal what happened on that day and the fact that he resisted it.
Finally, the Washington Post has the law enforcement timeline as January 6th terrorists set off every intelligence alarm in the country with their impending attack.

The head of intelligence at D.C.’s homeland security office was growing desperate. For days, Donell Harvin and his team had spotted increasing signs that supporters of President Donald Trump were planning violence when Congress met to formalize the electoral college vote, but federal law enforcement agencies did not seem to share his sense of urgency. On Saturday, Jan. 2, he picked up the phone and called his counterpart in San Francisco, waking Mike Sena before dawn.

Sena listened with alarm. The Northern California intelligence office he commanded had also been inundated with political threats flagged by social media companies, several involving plans to disrupt the joint session or hurt lawmakers on Jan. 6.

He organized an unusual call for all of the nation’s regional homeland security offices — known as fusion centers — to find out what others were seeing. Sena expected a couple dozen people to get on the line that Monday. But then the number of callers hit 100. Then 200. Then nearly 300. Officials from nearly all 80 regions, from New York to Guam, logged on.

In the 20 years since the country had created fusion centers in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sena couldn’t remember a moment like this. For the first time, from coast to coast, the centers were blinking red. The hour, date and location of concern was the same: 1 p.m., the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6.

Harvin asked his counterparts to share what they were seeing. Within minutes, an avalanche of new tips began streaming in. Self-styled militias and other extremist groups in the Northeast were circulating radio frequencies to use near the Capitol. In the Midwest, men with violent criminal histories were discussing plans to travel to Washington with weapons.

Forty-eight hours before the attack, Harvin began pressing every alarm button he could. He invited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, military intelligence services and other agencies to see the information in real time as his team collected it. He took another extreme step: He asked the city’s health department to convene a call of D.C.-area hospitals and urged them to prepare for a mass casualty event. Empty your emergency rooms, he said, and stock up your blood banks.

Harvin was one of numerous people inside and outside of government who alerted authorities to the growing likelihood of deadly violence on Jan. 6, according to a Washington Post investigation, which found a cascade of previously undisclosed warnings preceded the attack on the Capitol. Alerts were raised by local officials, FBI informants, social media companies, former national security officials, researchers, lawmakers and tipsters, new documents and firsthand accounts show.

This investigation is based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings. Some of those who were interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions or sensitive information.

While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other. The red flags were everywhere.
In the last week, we've learned that the Trump regime was openly recruiting insurrectionists and working with them, hosting White House meetings along with Republican members of Congress, all for January 6th. Now we know that the plan all along was to pressure Pence to go along with the plan in order to stop the riot.
A terrorist insurrection was planned, authorized, and facilitated by Donald Trump while he was in the White House, for the express purpose of him remaining in power.
I don't really care how bad you think the Democrats are, this was a goddamn armed terrorist coup and it almost worked.

We only still have a country because Mike Pence was a coward.

There's your scary story for Halloween.


Sunday Long Read: Hate The Sinners

This week's Sunday Long Read comes from Becca Andrews and Mother Jones, telling us the story of how student victims of sexual abuse at Chicago's Moody Bible Institute became the guilty parties of tempting the "pure and good" fellow students who abused them.

Megan Wohlers thought she had done all she needed to do. And even if she had missed something, she thought, she was on a Christian campus, full of other believers—someone would certainly intervene.

It was the fall of 2016 when the sophomore at Moody Bible Institute, one of the country’s most prestigious evangelical colleges, started the process of getting help. She was afraid for her own safety, and the safety of those closest to her. Her ex-boyfriend seemed undeterred by her pleas for him to move on. So, she tried to be systematic: She spoke with the public safety department at the school, and she wrote a letter to her ex, demanding that he leave her, her family, and her friends alone. She gave copies of the letter to a professor, the Title IX office, and Dean of Students Timothy Arens, as well as her parents, for documentation’s sake. The dean also promised to speak separately with the boy and tell him to back off. Surely, it would be enough.

It wasn’t.

Now, five years later, Wohlers, the once-starry-eyed teenager who’d dreamed of going to Moody since she was 10, whose father was an alumnus, whose ambition was to go to Central Africa to spread the gospel, is one of 11 women who have decided to make public their experiences with sexual abuse at the college. “The school encourages transparency and vulnerability with each other,” Wohlers tells me, “but the truth of the matter is people don’t open up to other people about what’s going on in their lives, and then when you do open up to administration, you get shamed and blamed.”

It is time, they’ve decided, for others to witness what they see as a systemic failure to address sexual misconduct at the school that describes itself as “the world’s most influential Bible college,” the place “where God transforms the world through you.” It is time to expose the people who were tasked with protecting them—under the laws of the country, under the laws of God—who at best looked the other way, at worst blamed them for the violence perpetrated against them.

And finally, it is time, they argue, to move beyond the purity culture that has defined and infected Moody—and imperiled women on campus—for far too long. “All the responsibilities are on the girls to be pure,” says Anna Schutte, who graduated from Moody in 2020. “You know, if a guy has a porn addiction and a sex addiction, you should pray for him. But if a girl gets assaulted, it’s her fault.”
As I've said before on multiple occasions, my parents are people of deep spiritual conviction and faith, and I envy them. Me, I've seen religion used too many times to justify the worst in humanity and not the best.
Related Posts with Thumbnails