Saturday, August 13, 2022

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Not even the NY Times can ignore the escalation of deadly political terrorist violence this week after the FBI served a warrant on Trump, galvanizing his right-wing minions to "declare war" against the Biden administration and tens of millions of American voters.

The armed attack this week on an F.B.I. office in Ohio by a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump who was enraged by the bureau’s search of Mr. Trump’s private residence in Florida was one of the most disturbing episodes of right-wing political violence in recent months.

But it was hardly the only one.

In the year and a half since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, threats of political violence and actual attacks have become a steady reality of American life, affecting school board officials, election workers, flight attendants, librarians and even members of Congress, often with few headlines and little reaction from politicians.

In late June, a former Marine stepped down as the grand marshal of a July 4 parade in Houston after a deluge of threats that focused on her support of transgender rights. A few weeks later, the gay mayor of an Oklahoma city quit his job after what he described as a series of “threats and attacks bordering on violence.”

Even the federal judge who authorized the warrant to search for classified material at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s beachfront home and club, became a target. On pro-Trump message boards, several threats were issued against him and his family, with one person writing, “I see a rope around his neck.”

While this welter of events may feel disparate, occurring at different times and places and to different types of people, scholars who study political violence point to a common thread: the heightened use of bellicose, dehumanizing and apocalyptic language, particularly by prominent figures in right-wing politics and media.

Several right-wing or Republican figures reacted to the search of Mar-a-Lago not only with demands to dismantle the F.B.I., but also with warnings that the action had triggered “war.

“This just shows everyone what many of us have been saying for a very long time,” Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed House candidate in Washington State, said on a podcast run by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief political strategist. “We’re at war.”

On Thursday, a 42-year-old Ohio man, identified as Ricky W. Shiffer, showed up at the Cincinnati field office of the F.B.I. with an AR-15-style rifle and was subsequently shot to death after firing multiple times at the police during a standoff. There is no evidence of what prompted Mr. Shiffer to act. But Mr. Shiffer’s social media posts later revealed that he was full of rage about, among other things, the search at Mar-a-Lago — and that he wanted revenge.

“Violence is not (all) terrorism,” he wrote — on Mr. Trump’s own social media app, Truth Social. “Kill the F.B.I. on sight.”

Despite that threat, one day later, when the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News published the warrant underlying the Mar-a-Lago search, it did not redact the names of the F.B.I. agents on the document. Almost immediately afterward, posts on a pro-Trump chat board referred to them as “traitors.”

According to the F.B.I., there are now about 2,700 open domestic terrorism investigations — a number that has doubled since the spring of 2020 — and that does not include lesser but still serious incidents that do not rise to the level of federal inquiry. Last year, threats against members of Congress reached a record high of 9,600, according to data provided by the Capitol Police.

Nonetheless, it is exceptionally rare for most adults to willfully inflict harm on other people, especially for political reasons, said Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow in the democracy, conflict and governance program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Still, Ms. Kleinfeld said, there are ways of lowering the average person’s tolerance for violence.

If political aggression is set in the context of a war, she suggested, ordinary people with no prior history of violence are more likely to accept it. Political violence can also be made more palatable by couching it as defensive action against a belligerent enemy. That is particularly true if an adversary is persistently described as irredeemably evil or less than human.

“The right, at this point, is doing all three of these things at once,” Ms. Kleinfeld said.

There is little evidence that Republicans and right-wing media figures have tempered their rhetoric, even as Congress and the Justice Department investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Several defendants charged in the riot have said they were moved to act by Mr. Trump’s words. Still, many Republicans have sought to minimize his role.

Even before the search at Mar-a-Lago this week, some of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters had been casting the political stakes as existential, suggesting that the country was already embroiled in an end-of-times clash between irreconcilable foes.

“This is truly a battle between those who want to save America and those who want to destroy her,” Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for the governor of Arizona, told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas in early August. “That’s where we are at the moment. My question to you is: Are you in this fight with us?"
They want blood in the weeks and months ahead.
They are going to most certainly get it.
As a country we need to deal with this. We're still not even close to being ready for it. 
Be careful out there.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

With all the screaming about Trump stealing classified documents and hiding them in his pool closet, it's easy to forget that on Friday, Democrats passed the most impactful piece of climate change legislation in US history.


The House of Representatives voted Friday to pass Democrats' $750 billion health care, energy and climate bill, in a significant victory for President Joe Biden and his party. 
The final vote was 220-207, along party lines. Four Republicans did not vote.
Now that the Democratic-controlled House has approved the bill, it will next go to Biden to be signed into law. 
Final passage of the bill marks a milestone for Democrats and gives the party a chance to achieve long-sought policy objectives ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. It comes at a critical time as Democrats are fighting to retain control of narrow majorities in Congress. 
The sweeping bill -- named the Inflation Reduction Act -- would represent the largest climate investment in US history and make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation would reduce the deficit, be paid for through new taxes -- including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks -- and boost the Internal Revenue Service's ability to collect. 
It would raise over $700 billion in government revenue over 10 years and spend over $430 billion to reduce carbon emissions and extend subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and use the rest of the new revenue to reduce the deficit.
Of course it has several other parts to it, but the climate change component is the largest.
The deal would be the biggest climate investment in US history. It would slash US greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's office said.
The new agreement spans everything from electric vehicle tax credits to clean energy manufacturing to investments in environmental justice communities. 
Extending tax credits for electric vehicles made it in, after previous opposition from Manchin. The tax credits would continue at their current levels, up to $4,000 for a used electric vehicle and $7,500 for a new one. However, the income threshold for eligibility would be lowered -- a key demand of Manchin's. 
The bill also contains 10-year consumer tax credits to bring down the cost of heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC and water heaters. It includes $60 billion of funding for environmental justice communities and for the reduction of legacy pollution. 
And it puts $60 billion towards domestic clean energy manufacturing and $30 billion for a production credit tax credit for wind, solar and battery storage. 
The bill provides $4 billion in additional drought funding -- a key negotiation point for Sinema amid the multi-year drought in the Southwest. 
The tax credits will be technology neutral -- meaning they won't favor renewables over fossil fuels outfitted with carbon-reducing measures. However, they are designed to reward those who reduce their emissions the most, according to Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. 
The deal also includes major provisions like a methane program that would levy a fee on oil and gas producers that emit methane above a certain threshold. It also includes $27 billion for a so-called clean energy accelerator -- essentially a green bank that will leverage public and private funding to expand more green projects.
It's a good bill, folks.
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