Democracy, Insurrection

Heed the Signs …

How can an American know that democracy at home is under assault, and may even collapse?

Listen.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, February 3, 2021:

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.

“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.

“He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored.”

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Idaho Republican Senator James E. Risch, February 10, 2021:

“[Trump] said I need you to get out there and fight for me, well you know, what politician hasn’t said that to his supporters? You know, I need you to get out there and fight for me. Now it’s a really slippery slope to say that you hold a political rally and you give fiery speeches and then somebody goes out and does something you didn’t intend and then they hold you responsible for it. That’s not right.”

Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, February 10, 2021:

“Republicans used to advocate fidelity to the rule of law and the plain text of the Constitution. In 2020, Mr. Trump convinced many to abandon those principles. He falsely claimed that the election was stolen from him because of widespread fraud. While some degree of fraud occurs in every election, there was no evidence of fraud on a scale that could have changed this one. As the Select Committee will demonstrate in hearings later this year, no foreign power corrupted America’s voting machines, and no massive secret fraud changed the election outcome.

“Almost all members of Congress know this – although many lack the courage to say it out loud. Mr. Trump knew it too, from his own campaign officials, from his own appointees at the Justice Department, and from the dozens of lawsuits he lost. Yet, Mr. Trump ignored the rulings of the courts and launched a massive campaign to mislead the public.

“Donald Trump not only sought to destroy the electoral system through false claims of voter fraud and unprecedented public intimidation of state election officials, but he also then attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to his duly elected successor, for the first time in American history.”

January 6, 2021

Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who investigated Richard Nixon’s crimes that came to be known as Watergate:

“In a deception that exceeded even Nixon’s imagination, Trump and a group of lawyers, loyalists and White House aides devised a strategy to bombard the country with false assertions that the 2020 election was rigged and that Trump had really won. They zeroed in on the Jan. 6 session as the opportunity to overturn the election’s result. Leading up to that crucial date, Trump’s lawyers circulated memos with manufactured claims of voter fraud that had counted the dead, underage citizens, prisoners and out-of-state residents.

“On that day, driven by Trump’s rhetoric and his obvious approval, a mob descended on the Capitol and, in a stunning act of collective violence, broke through doors and windows and ransacked the House chamber, where the electoral votes were to be counted. The mob then went in search of Pence – all to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Trump did nothing to restrain them.

“By legal definition this is clearly sedition – conduct, speech or organizing that incites people to rebel against the governing authority of the state. Thus, Trump became the first seditious president in our history.”

Capitol Police Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, June 7, 2022. Gonell was permanently injured in the attack on the Capitol that claimed seven lives.

“To be honest, I just want the truth. I mean, like I said on my testimony back in last year, I had a feeling at the moment when I was fighting those people that this was well-coordinated. And from revelations that we have seen coming out from the investigations and through the court system, it has – and it was coordinated from the top down, from the president down. This was no coincidence of what happened. I believe that since the election, everybody who supported the president – most of them – they had a handle on it in terms of coordinating it, planning it, orchestrating it, including downplaying it after the fact, even though on January 6 they were running for their lives.”

Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan reacting to reports on June 8 that a heavily armed 22-year-old man who had threatened members of the Supreme Court was arrested near Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Maryland home and charged with attempted murder:

“I call on leaders in both parties in Washington to strongly condemn these actions in no uncertain terms. It is vital to our constitutional system that the justices be able to carry out their duties without fear of violence against them and their families.”

Garnell Whitfield Jr. speaking before a congressional committee, June 7, 2022. Whitfield’s 86-year-old mother died in a mass shooting carried out by a white supremacist in Buffalo, New York:

“My mom’s life mattered. Your actions here will tell us if and how much it mattered to you.  

“On that fateful day in Buffalo we realized the danger of allowing hatred in, any form, in our country to fester. It tears at the overall fabric of our democracy. Will we be better at being a multicultural nation?”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson, June 7, 2022:

“The Department of Homeland Security today issued a new bulletin in the National Terrorism Advisory System, stating that the U.S. ‘remains in a heightened threat environment.’ It noted that ‘[t]he continued proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding current events could reinforce existing personal grievances or ideologies, and in combination with other factors, could inspire individuals to mobilize to violence.’ Stories that the government is unwilling or unable to secure the southern border and the upcoming Supreme Court decision about abortion rights might lead to violence, it said. 

“Also, it noted: ‘As the United States enters mid-term election season this year, we assess that calls for violence by domestic violent extremists directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers will likely increase.’”

Pay attention.

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Additional Reading:

A few other items that may be of interest …

Two Stories Illustrate the Ongoing American Battle Over Education

The first from South Dakota where, as in many “red” states, the educational agenda is be framed by national conservative groups who aim to target teachers and destroy – not too harsh a word – public education.

Excellent reporting here from South Dakota News Watch.

And this from the Wisconsin Examiner. “Over the past few months, some Wisconsin Republican legislators have been scouring school libraries in their districts for potentially ‘inappropriate’ books … GOP lawmakers appear to be setting the stage for debates around what books should be restricted, and whether staff should be held accountable for providing them to students.”

The culture wars are raging.


Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire

This review of historian Caroline Elkins’ latest book is proof positive of why the effort to dumb down history by focusing only on the glories and not also the tragedies is so darn dangerous.

“Her detailing of [the violent] reality [of the British Empire] involves a deconstruction not only of the self-delusion, seductive mythology and doublespeak of the largest empire in human history, but also the deliberate official destruction of large parts of its historical record.”

From The Guardian.


“We’re Living in an Era of Extraordinary Corporate Power”

An interview with Katie Curran O’Malley, a candidate for attorney general in Maryland, who is vowing to focus on the growing anti-competitive nature of American business.

From Washington Monthly.


The Kystriksveien: Earth’s most beautiful road trip?

A travel piece from the BBC.

A part of Norway’s spectacular coastal road

“Seeming to wrap itself around the country like a protective shield from the freezing Arctic, Norway’s coastline appears to have shattered under the strain, riven as it is with islands and fjords cutting deep fissures inland. Along such a coast, it seems impossible that a road should exist here at all. In short, it seems like a miracle.”

The road is a “triumph of human ingenuity and perseverance.”


On that lovely note I’ll say thanks … and do what you can to speak out and defend our democracy. All the best.

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