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Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson

Ahavati
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In the next week, Trump Republicans might be able to convince Americans that holding Republican insurrectionists responsible for their actions is Democratic overreaction. In that case, the Republicans can avoid taking a stand either for or against Trump while they turn this moment into a referendum on the Democrats just as they take power in the national government. They are running this play headlong, complaining bitterly, for example, about the new metal detectors installed at the entrance to the House chamber-- even as National Guard personnel patrolled the Capitol to protect them-- and complaining about “censorship” to television cameras after Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube removed QAnon accounts and Trump’s accounts.

It could also be that, as more information comes out, the story will get even worse, and it will be easier for senators to vote to convict, especially once Trump is out of office. Yesterday’s briefings by the FBI and acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin gave notice that the evolving story of what happened on January 6 will be shocking and could well involve figures in government. More than 30 House Democrats have called attention to an unusual number of Capitol tours held on January 5, at a time when coronavirus restrictions have largely ended tours. Those tours, combined with the fact that the insurrectionists appeared to have a detailed knowledge of the Capitol complex, have led to suspicions that some members of Congress might have offered aid to the rioters.

A sign that there is something big still hanging out there came tonight in the form of a taped video by Trump himself, emphasizing that he disavowed violence and defending the right to free speech protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It sounded like a charge and a defense. To release such a video means he must be worried indeed about his legal exposure.

Another sign is that virtually no one in the White House tried to defend Trump from today’s impeachment. There were no talking points, no briefings, no interviews, no calls to lawmakers. Even White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who defended the president at his first impeachment last year, wanted people to know he was not defending him this time.

Furious and isolated, Trump is lashing out at those he blamed for getting him into this mess. He has told aides that he wants personally to approve any expenses his lawyer Rudy Giuliani ran up as he traveled around the country to challenge election results, and he has told them not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees.

Trump had largely given up governing after the election anyway, but now our government seems to be operating haphazardly. Today, Israeli warplanes hit Iranian and Iranian-backed militia positions in Syria. Israeli forces are often active in this area, but this was the hardest attack in years, hitting missiles recently brought to the area and killing around 40 people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted Trump to pressure Iran before he left office, and this strike seems intended to demonstrate a U.S.-Israeli partnership against Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, made this message obvious by being seen together Monday at Café Milano in Washington, D.C., a restaurant the Washington Post described as “Washington’s ultimate place to see and be seen.”

Also yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced new coronavirus vaccine schedule guidelines, as the U.S. reported 4,327 deaths from Covid-19. In the first 13 days of 2021, we have seen more than 3 million new infections. More than 23 million Americans have been infected so far.

Almost exactly a year ago, on January 23, 2020, Adam Schiff urged Senate Republicans to convict Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress, and to remove him from office. “Now,” he said, “you may be asking how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election?

“A lot,” Schiff said. “A lot of damage.”

—-

Submitted January 14, 2021

Notes:

https://twitter.com/TheRickWilson/status/1349469790067326977

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/mikie-sherrill-capitol-hill-attack-458655

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syria-israel-airstrike-iran/2021/01/13/a14410fa-55a4-11eb-acc5-92d2819a1ccb_story.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-13/cheney-faces-gop-move-to-oust-her-for-backing-trump-impeachment?cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_medium=social

https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-effort-live-updates/2021/01/13/956452691/gop-leader-mccarthy-trump-bears-responsibility-for-violence-wont-vote-to-impeach

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/jim-jordan-election-stolen-fact-check/index.html

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/adam-schiff-closing-argument-transcript-thursday-impeachment-trial

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/gop-senators-incensed-schiff-head-pike-remark-impeachment-trial-n1122761

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/pompeo-mossad-head-meet-in-washington-cafe-report-655123

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/health/us-coronavirus-wednesday/index.html      

https://apnews.com/article/nyc-terminate-trump-contracts-c3ec1eadf286008199074c894de31612

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/534165-pelosi-announces-lawmakers-will-be-fined-if-they-bypass-metal-detectors-to

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2021/01/13/one-week-after-deadly-attack-capitol-hill-halls-filled-with-national-guard-troops-instead-of-tourists-and-staffers/


Andres__Castro
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A double impeachment is very very special.    Thank you for posting!

Ahavati
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January 14, 2021

“Come Wednesday, we begin a new chapter.”

So said President-Elect Joe Biden tonight as he laid out a plan for a $1.9 trillion emergency vaccination and relief package to get the country through and past the coronavirus. The Trump administration created no federal program for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, leaving us woefully behind where we need to be to get our population vaccinated. And the virus is spreading fast. Over the past week, we have had an average of almost 250,000 new cases a day of coronavirus, with daily deaths on either side of 4000. We are approaching 390,000 recorded deaths from Covid-19.

Biden’s plan calls for $50 billion to ramp up Covid-19 testing, including rapid tests, and to help schools and local governments establish regular testing systems. It calls for an investment of $30 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund to make sure it can provide supplies for the pandemic.

It starts by addressing the pandemic, for both Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris believe that until people are comfortable circulating again, the economy will not rebound. But the plan also calls for federal support to rebuild the economy, a reflection of the ongoing crisis that in the last week led 965,000 Americans to turn to unemployment insurance for the first time, joining more than 5 million who have already filed claims.

The plan calls for $1400 stimulus checks for individuals, expanded unemployment benefits through September, an end to eviction and foreclosure until September 30, $30 billion to help people meet payments for rent or utilities, and a $15 minimum wage. Biden is calling for aid for child care, a $3 billion investment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and $350 billion for state, local, and tribal governments to support front line workers.

Biden laid out his ambitious plan even as fallout continued from the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., when Trump supporters tried to overturn his victory in the 2020 election. Today the FBI continued to track down and arrest rioters, while the pro-Trump faction of the Republican Party continued its attempt to wrest control from establishment Republicans.

But while Republican lawmakers are calling for “unity” to deflect attention from the riot and to avoid accountability, Biden used this speech, at this time, to calm tensions and call for unity to move all Americans forward.

He emphasized, as he always does, that he wants to be a president for all Americans, not just those who voted for him, and that if we work together we can accomplish anything. He tried to appeal to disaffected Republicans by highlighting his plan to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, as well as to create new, well-paying jobs in new fields and in long delayed infrastructure projects. To reach out to religious voters who were horrified last week by the vision of those who self-identify as Christians calling for the death of Vice President Mike Pence, Biden emphasized the morality in the plan: a good society should not let children go to bed hungry.

He made a sharp contrast with the current president, not only by sharing an actual plan to confront real problems, but also by empathizing with Americans who have lost loved ones to the pandemic and who are hurting in the stalled economy. “Every day matters, every person matters,” he said.

But Biden’s plan is far larger than a way to address our current crisis. It outlines a vision for America that reaches back to an older time, when both parties shared the idea that the government had a role to play in the economy, regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure.

That vision was at the heart of the New Deal, ushered in by Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the Great Crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed it illustrated that the American economy needed a referee to keep the wealthy playing by the rules. Government intervention proved so successful and so popular that the Republican Party, which had initially recoiled from what its leaders incorrectly insisted was communism, by 1952 had adopted the idea of an activist government. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower added the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to the Cabinet on April 11, 1953, and in 1956 signed into law the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which began the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways.

[ continues below ]

Ahavati
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While this system was enormously popular, reactionary Republicans hated business regulation, the incursion of the federal government into lucrative infrastructure fields, and the taxes it took to pay for the new programs (the top marginal tax rate in the 1950s was 91%). They launched a movement to end what was popularly known as the “liberal consensus”: the idea that the government should take an active role in keeping the economic playing field level.  

The liberal consensus was widely popular, these “Movement Conservatives” turned to the issue of race to break it. After the Supreme Court unanimously declared racial segregation in schools unconstitutional in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Movement Conservatives warned that an active government was not defending equality but redistributing the tax dollars of hardworking white men to grasping minorities through social programs.

By 1980, Movement Conservatives were gaining power in the Republican Party by calling for tax cuts and smaller government, slashing regulations and domestic programs even as they poured money into the military and their tax cuts began moving money upward. By the 1990s, Movement Conservatives had gained the upper hand in the party and, determined to take the government back to the days before the New Deal, were systematically purging it of what they called “RINOs”—Republicans in Name Only. They would, they said, make the government small enough to drown it in a bathtub.

As they dragged the country toward the right, Republicans pulled the Democrats from the New Deal toward reforms Democratic lawmakers hoped could attract the voters they had lost to the Republicans. “The era of big government is over,” President Bill Clinton famously said, although he continued to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from Republican cuts.

The Democratic defense of an active government was popular—people actually like government regulation, social welfare programs, and roads and bridges. But Republicans continued to be determined to get rid of the liberal consensus once and for all, insisting that true liberty would free individuals to organize a booming economy. Trump’s administration was the culmination of two generations of Republican attempts to dismantle the New Deal state.

But now, the dangers of gutting our government and empowering private business to extremes have become only too clear. For four years, we have watched as a few privileged business leaders got rid of career government employees and handed their jobs to lackeys. The result has been a raging pandemic and a devastating economic collapse, as money has moved dramatically upward. Even before the pandemic, the Trump administration had added 50% to the national debt despite cuts to domestic programs. In the 2020 election, Trump offered more of the same. Americans rejected him and chose Biden.

Biden’s speech tonight marked a resurrection of the idea of an activist government as a positive good. He is calling for the government to invest in ordinary Americans rather than in the people at the top of the economy, and is openly calling for higher taxes on the wealthy to fund such investment. “Asking everyone to pay their fair share at the top so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America is the right thing for our economy,” he said. Unlike the New Dealers and Eisenhower Republicans of the mid-20th century, though, Biden’s vision is not centered on ensuring that a white man can take care of his family. It is centered on guaranteeing a fair economy for all, focusing on an idea of community that highlights the needs of women and children.

The idea of a government that supports ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy was first articulated by Abraham Lincoln in 1859 and was the system the Republicans first put in place during the Civil War. They paid for the programs with our first national taxes, including an income tax. After industrialists cut back that original system, Republican Theodore Roosevelt brought it back, and after it lapsed again in the 1920s, his Democratic cousin Franklin rebuilt it in such a profound way that it shaped modern America. With that system now on the verge of destruction yet again, Biden is making a bid to bring it back to life in a new form.

It is a new chapter indeed, but in a very traditional American story.

—-

Submitted January 15, 2021

Notes:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/14/us-weekly-jobless-claims-total-965000-vs-800000-estimate.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/opinion/trump-evangelicals.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/14/politics/biden-vaccination-economic-rescue-package/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/03/12/trump-vowed-eliminate-debt-years-hes-track-leave-it-least-percent-higher/

https://www.krwg.org/post/fact-sheet-biden-releases-fiscal-plan-including-1400-checks-individuals

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1996/07/21/clinton-swipes-the-gops-lyrics/9c725e88-b5a7-46a5-bb74-8bc12b22795b/

JohnnyBlaze
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America would be an even more amazing place to live if the government was modernized into actually generating revenue to offset taxation. At least then all parties in congress would have a common goal to focus on together.

Ahavati
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January 15, 2021

Two stories jump out at me tonight.

The first is the question of why Trump seems so desperate to stay in a job he clearly has no interest in doing. Today, reporters caught sight of Michael J. Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, going into the White House. Lindell has been strong advocate of the idea that the 2020 election, which Democrat Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes and by a vote of 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, was fraudulent. Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford snapped an image of the papers Lindell was carrying with him, and the words on it seem to offer a plan for Trump to invoke martial law through the Insurrection Act.

Lindell later told reporters his meeting with Trump had been brief and unproductive, but the very fact he got a hearing testifies to Trump’s desperation.

That desperation suggests that Trump knows he is facing something bad the minute he is out of the presidency. It is reasonable to assume that trouble will come from the fact his immunity from prosecution under the 1973 Department of Justice memo saying that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted will end at noon on January 20, 2021. It also seems likely that the American people are going to learn that some of the actions of the Trump administration cannot bear scrutiny.

Signs that there might be damaging information about the January 6 attack on the Capitol showed today. Stories of the fighting inside the building continued to emerge today, and the stories reveal armed insurgents who attacked with the belief that they were doing Trump’s bidding. Officers were badly outnumbered, and beaten with their own batons, American flags, and the “thin blue line” flag that those who fly it have insisted represents support for the police. Officer Christina Laury told NBC’s Jackie Bensen, ““I remember people swinging metal poles at us,” she said. “They were pushing and shoving. They were spraying us with bear mace and pepper spray.”

The assistant director of the FBI Washington Field Office, Steven M. D’Antuono, today told reporters that the department, working together with the Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney’s Office, has identified more than 270 suspects involved in criminal activity around the Capitol on January 6, and law enforcement officers have more than 100 of them in custody. He noted that the FBI had received more than 140,000 photos and videos from the public, and warned perpetrators: “To those of you who took part in the violence, here’s something you should know: Every FBI field office in the country is looking for you.” He told reporters that the investigation was still in its earliest stages.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that she has asked retired Lieutenant Russel Honore to lead a review of the security arrangements for last week, and warned that if lawmakers are found to have aided the insurgents, they will face consequences in Congress and also in court. While several agencies are investigating what led to last week’s crisis and why the Capitol Police were left unsupported for hours, Pelosi’s public statement was the first to acknowledge the swirling rumors that the insurgents might have had inside help.  

News broke today that prosecutors in Georgia appear to be considering a criminal investigation against Trump for his efforts to bully election officials in the state into changing the results of the election. Michael J. Moore, the former United States attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, told New York Times reporters Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim: “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. It’s full of threatening undertone and strong-arm tactics.”

We also learned today that New York prosecutors met yesterday with Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to ask about Trump’s finances, especially his relationship with Deutsche Bank, which continued to lend to him even after other sources of financing dried up.

[ continued below ]

Ahavati
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And yet another story emerged today that reflects badly on the administration. Its vaccination rollout is far behind where officials had promised it would be by now, and three days ago, on January 12, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced the government would no longer hold back second doses of the vaccine, expecting that pharmaceutical companies could keep pace and produce enough vaccines for the second dose as it was needed. The popular understanding was that they had held back half the available doses for that second necessary shot.

But today we learned that when Azar made that announcement, there was no reserve; the available vaccines had already been distributed. State health officials are outraged that vaccines they had counted on are not available, another sign of just how chaotic the vaccine rollout has been. Chicago Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady told Washington Post reporters Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena H. Sun, “I have stopped paying a whole lot of attention to what is being said verbally at the federal level right now.”

Tonight, Azar handed his resignation to Trump, effective at noon on January 20, the minute Trump leaves office. His resignation letter touts the administration’s “remarkable response to the pandemic” and insists that “our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of American lives.” It goes on to list what he considers the many triumphs of the administration in health care. Azar appears to suggest that he is resigning because of “the actions and rhetoric following the election,” although he never identifies Trump as being behind those actions and rhetoric.

In light of all that has happened in the past two weeks, it seems noteworthy that Trump’s appointees in the Pentagon stopped sharing information with Biden’s team in mid-December. Trump appointees also refused to share information with Biden’s people about their plan for the coronavirus vaccine. When they finally did, Biden expressed concern at what seemed to him a lack of a detailed plan. Azar dismissed Biden’s concerns as “nonsense.”

If Trump’s eagerness to cling to the presidency and cover up his actions is one of today’s stories, the other is that President-Elect Joe Biden is stepping into the space the current president has abandoned. He is taking on the coronavirus crisis with the seriousness it deserves. The pandemic has reached appalling levels, with well over 3000 deaths and more than 200,000 infections every day. Almost 390,000 of us have died of Covid-19 to date, and a far more contagious version of the disease is spreading.

In a speech today, Biden announced he will use the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard to build clinics to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, and that he will make sure doses are available at local pharmacies. He promised to invoke the Defense Production Act—a law that lets the government tell a company what to make and then guarantees a market for all of that item it produces-- to guarantee there are enough supplies of vials, syringes, needles, and so on, to move the vaccine and get it into people’s arms.

“This will be one of the most challenging operation efforts ever undertaken by our country, but you have my word,” Biden said. “We will manage the hell out of this operation.”

—-

Submitted January 16, 2020

Notes:

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/washingtondc/news/press-releases/fbi-assistant-director-in-charge-steven-m-dantuonos-remarks-on-press-call-regarding-violence-at-us-capitol-011521

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election-2020/pelosi-tears-capitol-congress-prosecute-b1788043.html

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/it-was-brutal-medieval-style-combat-dc-police-officers-describe-defending-us-capitol/2542536/

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/a-common-line-keeps-emerging-from-capitol-rioters-trump-asked-us-to-be-here

https://www.axios.com/pentagon-biden-transition-briefings-123a9658-4af1-4632-a6e6-770117784d60.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/22/trump-coronavirus-vaccine-chief-says-hes-had-no-contact-with-biden-transition-team.html

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/06/biden-azar-vaccine-rollout-nonsense-443200

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/12/trump-covid-vaccine-second-shot/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/15/trump-vaccine-reserve-used-up/

https://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/editorialfiles/2021/01/15/AZAR.pdf

Lindell:

https://twitter.com/jdawsey1/status/1350246899492806663

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/15/pillow-salesman-apparently-has-some-ideas-about-declaring-martial-law/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/us/politics/atlanta-prosecutor-trump-election.html

https://www.startribune.com/ny-prosecutors-interview-michael-cohen-about-trump-finances/600011177/

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/15/biden-to-deploy-fema-national-guard-to-set-up-covid-vaccine-clinics-across-the-us.html

https://www.axios.com/biden-vaccine-distribution-coronavirus-1bdfe57c-094d-4b61-a961-f6ff3e62d932.html

JohnnyBlaze
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^ What a situation to inherit, probably 10,000 times more dire than what Obama and Biden were faced with when they took office after Bush.

Ahavati
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JohnnyBlaze said:^ What a situation to inherit, probably 10,000 times more dire than what Obama and Biden were faced with when they took office after Bush.

I agree; however, he seems to be taking it by the horns in what matter most: The American people in regards to health ( adequate vaccine distribution ) and financial assistance ( stimulus checks, student loan forgiveness, WIC, and so forth ).

JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:

I agree; however, he seems to be taking it by the horns in what matter most: The American people in regards to health ( adequate vaccine distribution ) and financial assistance ( stimulus checks, student loan forgiveness, WIC, and so forth ).


It's going to be a struggle, but the will of the collective will manifest an even better, stronger America. 🙏

Ahavati
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January 16, 2021

Since right-wing insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on January 6 with the vague but violent idea of taking over the government, observers are paying renewed attention to the threat of right-wing violence in our midst.

For all our focus on fighting socialism and communism, right-wing authoritarianism is actually quite an old threat in our country. The nation’s focus on fighting “socialism” began in 1871, but what its opponents stood against was not government control of the means of production—an idea that never took hold in America—but the popular public policies which cost tax dollars and thus made wealthier people pay for programs that would benefit everyone. Public benefits like highways and hospitals, opponents argued, amounted to a redistribution of wealth, and thus were a leftist assault on American freedom.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that fight against “socialism” took the form of opposition to unionization and Black rights. In the 1920s, after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia had given shape to the American fear of socialism, making sure that system never came to America meant destroying the government regulation put in place during the Progressive Era and putting businessmen in charge of the government.

When Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt established business regulation, a basic social safety net, and government-funded infrastructure in the 1930s to combat the Great Depression that had laid ordinary Americans low, one right-wing senator wrote to a colleague: “This is despotism, this is tyranny, this is the annihilation of liberty…. The ordinary American is thus reduced to the status of a robot. The president has not merely signed the death warrant of capitalism, but has ordained the mutilation of the Constitution, unless the friends of liberty, regardless of party, band themselves together to regain their lost freedom.”

The roots of modern right-wing extremism lie in the post-World War II reaction to FDR’s New Deal and the Republican embrace of it under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Opponents of an active government insisted that it undermined American liberty by redistributing tax dollars from hardworking white men to those eager for a handout—usually Black men, in their telling. Modern government, they insisted, was bringing socialism to America. They set out to combat it, trying to slash the government back to the form it took in the 1920s.

Their job got easier after 1987, when the Fairness Doctrine ended. That Federal Communications Commission policy had required public media channels to base their stories on fact and to present both sides of a question. When it was gone, talk radio took off, hosted by radio jocks like Rush Limbaugh who contrasted their ideal country with what they saw as the socialism around them: a world in which hardworking white men who took care of their wives and children were hemmed in by government that was taxing them to give benefits to lazy people of color and “Feminazis.” These “Liberals” were undermining the country and the family, aided and abetted by lawmakers building a big government that sucked tax dollars.

In August 1992, the idea that hardworking white men trying to take care of their families were endangered by an intrusive government took shape at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Randy Weaver, a former factory worker who had moved his family to northern Idaho to escape what he saw as the corruption of American society, failed to show up for trial on a firearms charge. When federal marshals tried to arrest him, a firefight left Weaver’s fourteen-year-old son and a deputy marshal dead. In the af­termath of the shooting, federal and local officers laid an 11-day siege to the Weavers’ cabin, and a sniper wounded Weaver and killed his wife, Vicki.

Right-wing activists and neo-Nazis from a nearby Aryan Nations compound swarmed to Ruby Ridge to protest the government’s at­tack on what they saw as a man protecting his family. Negotiators eventually brought Weaver out, but the standoff at Ruby Ridge convinced western men they had to arm themselves to fight off the government.

In February of the next year, during the Democratic Bill Clinton administration, the same theme played out in Waco, Texas, when officers stormed the compound of a religious cult whose former members reported that their leader, David Koresh, was stockpiling weapons. A gun battle and a fire ended the 51-day siege on April 19, 1993. Seventy-six people died.

While a Republican investigation cited “overwhelming evidence” that exonerated the government of wrongdoing, talk radio hosts nonetheless railed against the Democratic administration, especially Attorney General Janet Reno, for the events at Waco. What happened there fit neatly into what was by then the Republican narrative of an overreaching government that crushed individuals, and political figures harped on that idea.

Rush Limbaugh stoked his listeners’ anger with reports of the “Waco invasion” and talked of the government’s “murder” of citizens, making much of the idea that a group of Christians had been killed by a female government official who was single and— as opponents made much of— unfeminine (re­actionary rocker Ted Nugent featured an obscene caricature of her for years in his stage version of “Kiss My Glock”).

[ continued below ]

Ahavati
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Horrified by the government’s attempt to break into the cult’s compound, Alex Jones, who would go on to become an important conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars, dropped out of community college to start a talk show on which he warned that Reno had “murdered” the people at Waco and that the government was about to impose martial law. The modern militia movement took off.

The combination of political rhetoric and violence radicalized a former Army gunner, Timothy McVeigh, who decided to bring the war home to the government. “Taxes are a joke,” he wrote to a newspaper in 1992. “More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement…. Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.”

On April 19, 1995, a date chosen to honor the Waco standoff, McVeigh set off a bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children younger than six, and wounded more than 800. When the police captured McVeigh, he was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Abraham Lincoln and the words “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” The same words John Wilkes Booth shouted after he assassinated Lincoln, they mean “thus always to tyrants,” and are the words attributed to Brutus after he and his supporters murdered Caesar.

By 1995, right-wing terrorists envisioned themselves as protectors of American individualism in the face of a socialist government, but the reality was that their complaints were not about government activism. They were about who benefited from that activism.

In 2014, Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy brought the contradictions in this individualist image to light when he fought the government over the impoundment of the cattle that he had been grazing on public land for more than 20 years. Bundy owed the government more than $1 million in grazing fees for running his cattle on public land, but he disparaged the “Negro” who lived in government housing and “didn’t have nothing to do. ”Black people’s laziness led them to abort their children and send their young men to jail, he told a reporter, and he wondered: “are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life… or are they better off under government subsidy?”

Convinced that he was a hardworking individualist, Bundy announced he did not recognize federal power over the land on which he grazed his cattle. The government impounded his animals in 2014, but officials backed down when Bundy and his supporters showed up armed. Republican Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) called Bundy and his supporters “patriots”; Democrat Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader at the time, called them “domestic terrorists” and warned, “it’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over.”

It wasn’t. Two years later, Bundy’s son Ammon was at the forefront of the right-wing takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, arguing that the federal government must turn over all public lands to the states to open them to private development. The terrorists called themselves “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.”

For the past four years, Trump and his enablers have tried to insist that unrest in the country is caused by “Antifa,” an unorganized group of anti-fascists who show up at rallies to confront right-wing protesters. But the Department of Homeland Security this summer identified “anarchist and anti-government extremists” as “the most significant threat… against law enforcement.” According to DHS, they are motivated by “their belief that their liberties are being taken away by the perceived unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate actions of government officials or law enforcement. ” Those anti-government protesters are now joined quite naturally by white supremacists, as well as other affiliated groups.

Right-wing terrorism in American has very deep roots, and those roots have grown since the 1990s as Republican rhetorical attacks on the federal government have fed them. The January 6 assault on the Capitol is not an aberration. It has been coming for a very long time.

—-

Submitted January 17, 2021

Notes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/24/politicians-denounce-bundys-racist-remarks/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/19/leaked-document-makes-trumps-use-nazi-era-symbol-look-worse/

JohnnyBlaze
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An excellent article which could be expanded into a bestselling history book.

Ahavati
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JohnnyBlaze said:An excellent article which could be expanded into a bestselling history book.

Well, she is a qualified historian! I think her letters will be published as a collection one day. I hope so, anyway.

JohnnyBlaze
JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:

Well, she is a qualified historian! I think her letters will be published as a collection one day. I hope so, anyway.


I certainly hope so. xo

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