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Tag: kyle rittenhouse

Careless Adults Take Note: 'Children Will Listen, Children Will See'

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn.”

At his death late last month at the age of 91, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was praised for writing for character rather than the hit parade. Playwright Arthur Laurents, who worked with him on several productions, once said that Sondheim “writes a lyric that could only be sung by the character for which it was designed.”

However, the audience for his work is everyone.

At this moment, the words of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods sadly resonate in a country where children are learning the wrong lessons from adults who should know better.

In Michigan, family, friends and classmates are mourning Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, killed in an attack in a place that should be safe — high school. A 15-year-old was charged in the murders at Oxford High School, and in a rarity, his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors said was behavior that made them complicit.

Guide them along the way

Children will glisten

Children will look to you

For which way to turn.”

According to Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald and authorities, the parents bought a gun that their son called “my new beauty.” Mom spent time testing it out with him and texted him, “LOL I’m not mad at you … you have to learn not to get caught,” when teachers found him searching online for ammunition. Perhaps realizing too late the seriousness of the tragedy her son is charged with unleashing, she allegedly texted him, “Don’t do it.”

When the shooting started, Dad called authorities to tell them it could be his missing gun — and his son.

Both parents met with school officials the morning of the shooting and were advised that his behavior warranted counseling within 48 hours. But they apparently resisted taking him home or getting him the “help” the accused asked for in a disturbing note.

The teenage Kyle Rittenhouse was judged not guilty in Wisconsin and walked free after killing two men and seriously wounding a third. His mother, Wendy, was never charged and has said she didn’t really know what he was doing the night he traveled to Kenosha to patrol the streets holding a weapon. But where was the judgment of a parent who, according to prosecutors, accompanied her teen son to a bar where he and Proud Boys drank and celebrated? Come to think of it, where were the voices chanting “What about the culture?” and “Where is the father?” — questions always posed when a youth of color does far less than shoot and kill two people?

New Normal

For years, because of pressure from the NRA, gun rights groups and lawmakers, federal money for gun research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “advocate or promote gun control” pretty much dried up. Now, some research funding has been reinstated, just when studies are showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the impact of the U.S. gun violence crisis.

Very few Americans are denying anyone’s right to own a gun — for protection, for hunting, for target practice. But is common sense too much to expect?

Where indeed was the sense or the empathy when, just days after the Oxford High shooting, Rep. Thomas Massie posted a holiday photo on Twitter, with family members of all ages smiling while displaying guns. The caption: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”

The Kentucky Republican’s tweet got some support but also criticism, including from Fred Guttenberg, a gun control activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the 2018 Parkland high school shooting in Florida. In response to Massie’s message, Guttenberg tweeted a photo he took of his smiling child and another image of her gravesite.

Bad Choices

One lawmaker moved to outrage by the Michigan school shooting was Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, whose speech just after he learned the news was certainly informed by his passion for stricter gun control laws and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in his own state that killed 26 people, including 20 little children. “It happens here, in America,” he said, “because we choose to let it happen.”

Will more parents and lawmakers be as outraged over school shootings that are becoming shockingly routine as they seem to be about teaching children anything about America’s sometimes violent history and teaching Americans to do and be better?

Acknowledging facts, it is charged, could ruin a child’s innocence.

These are children for whom active shooter drills have become as much a part of the curriculum as English, math and chemistry.

At Oxford High in Michigan, as a classroom of terrified students hid, there was a knock on the door, and from the other side came a voice indicating that he was a friend, not a foe. The suspicious students did not believe him and decided to take their chances by escaping out of a window instead.

It turns out it really was law enforcement knocking. But who could blame the high schoolers for their lack of trust in people who are supposed to know best, who have promised and failed to protect them?

These children — and to me they are children — lost their innocence a long time ago, if they ever had it.

“Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you.”

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer, and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. She is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project and host of the Equal Time podcast. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

'The Gold Medal Winner': A One-Act Play


Donald Trump is in his study at Mar-a-Lago on the telephone.

TRUMP: Marjorie?

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: Mr. President!

TRUMP: Could you speak a little louder?

GREENE: Mr. President!

TRUMP: I called to hear your voice.

GREENE: Kevin McCarthy has me still stripped of my committee assignments.

TRUMP: Terrible, just terrible, but love when you say that. So, remember the last call, when I told you to demand that Kevin strip those nasty Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill of their assignments?

GREENE: Strip them RINOs!

TRUMP: Can’t wait for that cartoon. Loved you in Gosar’s cartoon carrying the big sword.

GREENE: Me and Lauren Boebert, right alongside Paul Gosar. Off with their heads!

TRUMP: You’re my super-heroes.

GREENE: They censured Gosar—stripped him of his committee assignments.

TRUMP: Now he’s almost up there with you. But see how Kevin had to crawl. He promised you and Gosar would get your assignments back if he’s Speaker. He didn’t start out there when he took yours away. He’s moving. Just not on two feet. Crawling.

GREENE: But he made Lauren apologize for that joke about that towelhead Omar being a terrorist with a backpack.

TRUMP: She hit it out of the park.

GREENE: McCarthy made her apologize about Islamophobia.

TRUMP: If you can’t have that phobia, what phobia can you have?

GREENE: Vaccine Nazis! Mask mandates! You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about. This woman is mentally ill.

TRUMP: When I ripped off my mask on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House after having Covid it was a Clark Kent into Superman moment.

GREENE: Super-hero, Mr. President!

TRUMP: And they jumped all over you about the gold star.

GREENE: The same ones who voted for the infrastructure bill.

TRUMP: First they came for you, then they voted for the infrastructure bill.

GREENE: They made me apologize—and they made me go to the Holocaust Museum. OK, there’s no comparison to the Holocaust. I believe that forced mask and forced vaccines or vaccine passports are a type of discrimination, and I'm very much against that type of discrimination. It’s more like Jim Crow than the Holocaust.

TRUMP: Speaking of Black Lives Matter, that was genius of you and Matt Gaetz to compete about which one of you would hire Kyle Rittenhouse as an intern. Genius.

GREENE: Matt started it.

TRUMP: Kyle, I got to know him a little bit. Really a nice young man. He wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan.

GREENE: I went Matt one better. I nominated Rittenhouse for the Congressional Gold Medal.

TRUMP: If that’s not self-defense, nothing is! How can that not be a Gold Medal?

GREENE: I looked it up. George Washington, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Jackie Robinson. And--can you believe it--the Capitol Police who supposedly “protected” the Capitol on January 6. So, yeah, Kyle Rittenhouse. Gold Medal, not gold star, Gold Medal.

TRUMP: Think about adding Ashli Babbitt for a Congressional Gold Medal. Truly incredible person. I did a video for her birthday. She just wanted Make Pence to do the right thing. If this happened to the ‘other side,’ there would be riots all over America.

GREENE: Matt wouldn’t get on board with the Gold Medal. He put out a statement: “We are concerned that awarding Kyle with a Congressional Gold Medal will give him a big head during the internship with our office.” Yeah, he’s going to be in my office. We’re going to have to flip a coin.

TRUMP: Keep it all up. It’s working.

GREENE: The apologies? Or the Gold Medal?

TRUMP: Every time Kevin makes you apologize, or Boebert apologizes, or Gosar is censured, he loses. You gain, he loses. It’s all working. The Gold Medal works. Everything you do works. They’re making you the martyr. Everyone’s a martyr. That dead Ashli, that nice Kyle, Gosar with his cartoon, Boebert with her phobia, and you with your Holocaust. And that just means you’re like me because nobody is a bigger martyr. Watch closely. You know why Kevin said he’d get you and Gosar your assignments back? Flop sweat. Fear. Panic. Angst.

GREENE: What’s angst?

TRUMP: It’s your perfume. I can smell it a thousand miles away. Maybe getting Covid even helped my sense of smell.

GREENE: Yeah, own the libs.

TRUMP: It’s really about owning the Republicans. When they crucify you, you’re Jesus. When you’re the martyr, they follow you.

GREENE: Only you’re not Jesus.

TRUMP: The meek do not inherit the earth. Nice guys finish last. Suckers get what they deserve.

GREENE: You have a way with words.

TRUMP: Take Kevin—the more he’s frightened, the more he’s our slave. He knows you’re me. If he makes you a martyr, he gives you power over him. Just because I’m there. You’re my little terrorist. That’s how we are going to keep him as “My Kevin.”

GREENE: But what about Mark Meadows saying you should be Speaker?

TRUMP: Marjorie, sweetheart, that was Mark having a little fun with Kevin. Dance, Kevin, dance. I don’t need to be Speaker to be Speaker. Not when I have you. You win the medal. You’re the Speaker.

GREENE: Mr. President!

Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel ,and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the eleventh in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard, The Exclusive, The Role Model, A Modest Proposal, The Exit Interview, The Hitler Gospel, and Father Knows Best.

Why The QAnon Cult Is Going Sour On Kyle Rittenhouse

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

I have to confess, I can’t figure Kyle Rittenhouse out. One minute, his lawyers are repeatedly throwing out a Tucker Carlson film crew. The next minute, Rittenhouse is sitting down for an interview with Carlson, and is traveling to Mar-a-Lago to meet Trump.

Whatever the case, it looks like one element of the deplorable world is turning hard on one of its latest heroes. Apparently the QAnon world is not pleased that Rittenhouse dared speak ill of one of its top luminaries—his former lawyer, Lin Wood. It turns out that Rittenhouse and Wood are currently in a legal battle over the money raised to get Rittenhouse out on bail last year.

According to HuffPost, the feud between Rittenhouse and those who are still “trusting the plan” dates to Rittenhouse’s interview last Tuesday night with Ashleigh Banfield on NewsNation. (Watch a clip below.)


If you’re a QNut and you’ve lost Greene, that says something.

I have to confess, I’m taking Rittenhouse’s desire to stay out of politics with a grain of salt given his trip to Mar-a-Lago. But it seems Rittenhouse is telling the truth about Wood trying to screw him. After all, he told Carlson the same thing on the deplorables’ favorite network. Moreover, his portrayal of Wood hews closely to what his former law partners are saying about him in a suit they filed against him in August 2020. They claim that they severed ties with Wood in response to a long pattern of bizarre behavior, including rambling and incoherent communications and claims that God himself was directing Wood.

It says a lot about QAnon that it’s siding with a guy who not only sat on money intended to get Rittenhouse out of jail, but is now trying to claw it back.


Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

'Bizarre' Competition Among Politicians Offering Internships To Rittenhouse

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Teenage vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, recently acquitted on homicide and attempted homicide charges, is being exalted as a hero by far-right MAGA Republicans —some of whom are offering him internships. Steve Benen, a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show who frequently writes for Maddow's MaddowBlog on MSNBC's website, weighs in on these internship offers in an op-ed published on November 24 and describes some ways in which they are becoming "increasingly bizarre."

Rittenhouse, now 18, was only 17 when he went to a racial justice demonstration in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin carrying an AR-15-style weapon -- and shot three Black Lives Matters supporters, two of them fatally. Rittenhouse, during his trial, insisted that he acted in self-defense, and the jury voted "not guilty" on the charges he was facing.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida are among the far-right MAGA Republicans who have offered Rittenhouse internships.

"As Kyle Rittenhouse's trial unfolded," Benen observes, "a variety of Republican officials and candidates saw a political opportunity to exploit. The defendant, charged in the fatal shooting of two men during protests in Wisconsin last year, took on totemic value for the far-right. With this in mind, in the wake of Rittenhouse's acquittal late last week, many Republicans quickly embraced and celebrated the verdict as a victory in some kind of culture war. This, in and of itself, said a great deal about the state of the GOP and its unhealthy approach to our civic life."

Benen continues, "But then it got a little weird. Some congressional Republicans not only saw Rittenhouse's acquittal as validation of a conservative worldview — they wanted to be personally and directly associated with the defendant."

After Gaetz offered Rittenhouse an internship, far-right Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona — who recently drew widespread condemnation for posting an animated video that depicted him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — tweeted, "I will arm wrestle @mattgaetz to get dibs for Kyle as an intern."

Benen says of Gosar, "It's possible the Arizonan was kidding. It's also possible he wasn't. The fact that it's become difficult to tell the difference is itself disconcerting."

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is also offering Rittenhouse an intership. Appearing on Newsmax TV, Boebert told Sebastian Gorka (a former Donald Trump aide turned cable news host), "Now, I do have some colleagues on the Hill who have, just like me, offered Kyle Rittenhouse an internship in their office. And Madison Cawthorn, he said that he would arm wrestle me for this Kyle Rittenhouse internship. But Madison Cawthorn has some pretty big guns, and so, I would like to challenge him to a sprint instead…. Let's make this fair."

Benen notes that because Cawthorn is in a wheelchair, "competing in a sprint isn't much of an option."

"Given his attorney's recent comments, it seems unlikely that Rittenhouse will intern for any of these GOP officials," Benen writes. "But that doesn't change the fact that it's unsettling to see them compete for his affection in increasingly bizarre ways."


Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Not 'Both Sides': GOP Violence Is America's Biggest Political Story

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

First, some good news.

The New York Times recently ran an important piece about the rising specter of violence within mainstream Republican Party circles. The article was noteworthy not only because it spotlighted the frightening instances of violent rhetoric and actions the conservative movement is eagerly unleashing in America, but because the Times used clear and concise language to tell the story.

Temporarily shedding the lazy Both Sides blanket that so many newsrooms use when forced to acknowledge how reckless today's GOP has become, the Times piece didn't waste time trying to camouflage the trend. "From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party," the daily reported unequivocally. "The most animated Republican voters increasingly see themselves as participants in a struggle, if not a kind of holy war, to preserve their idea of American culture and their place in society."

That's the good news — some mainstream media outlets are using succinct language while addressing the most important political story in America today. Honestly, it's one of the most crucial unfolding stories in the country's history as the Trump-led GOP fuels an unprecedented, multi-pronged assault on U.S. democracy and gleefully flashes the threat of overt violence in the process.

That's the bad news, and it's spreading. "I have a hard time seeing how we have a peaceful 2024 election after everything that's happened now," Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America told the Times.

Political hostility is not new to America. The country was rocked by violence clashes, for instance, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the anti-war movement fractured off into more militant factions. But never did leaders of the Democratic Party or members of Congress overtly endorse political violence the way today's Republican Party does, as it continues to actively whitewash the deadly January insurrection, which is now glorified by Fox News.Democrats never used their considerable political muscle to try to demolish free and fair elections in America. That's not true for today's Republican Party, as it actively mainstreams the looming menace of hostility by fanning the flames of civil unrest, including last week celebrating an underage vigilante killer, Kyle Rittenhouse.

After he was acquitted on murder charges, at least three House Republicans said they wanted the gunman to be their intern, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn who urged his followers to "be armed and dangerous," while posting a message celebrating Rittenhouse's acquittal.

"Hard to describe how chilling it is to see members of the GOP and open white supremacists come together to celebrate a vigilante killing two people and getting away with it," Cassie Miller, an extremism researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center, tweeted.

The flashpoints of Republicans and conservatives promoting political violence have become ceaseless, to the point of frightening normalization. After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted an anime video altered to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden, virtually the entire Republican Party rallied to Gosar's side when he faced a formal House rebuke for his violent, dehumanizing outburst.

Despite the GOP's nearly universal support, Politico insisted the episode highlighted the "fringe" side of the party, while the Beltway media outlet Punch Bowl reduced the threatening, unnerving Gosar chapter to Democrats and Republicans just not trusting each other.

The violent virus is spreading to the grassroots level. Polls suggest that as many as 21 million Americans think that the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency. In Kansas, anti-vaxxers showed up to municipal meetings wearing yellow stars, suggesting they had equal footing with Jewish victims of the Holocaust. White nationalist members of The Proud Boys are showing up at local school board meetings, to lend a menacing air to the proceedings.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man asked local leaders when he could start killing Democrats. "When do we get to use the guns?" he said as the audience applauded. When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) voted in favor of the recent infrastructure bill to help rebuild roads across the country she was inundated with death threats. One man told her, "I pray to God that if you've got any children, they die in your face."

The welcome Times piece last week on GOP violence stood in contrast to a wave of vague, worthless reporting we've seen this year about how "Americans" are angry, without pinpointing the obvious source of the unbridled, incoherent wrath.

"Americans are angry about ... everything. Is that bad?" read a recent Christian Science Monitor headline. The piece equated right-wing, anti-mask parents storming local school board meetings and issuing death threats with social justice activists taking to the streets to protest police brutality. Those two things aren't remotely similar.

CNN's Chris Cillizza recently bemoaned how "we're all just so damn angry," but could only find examples of far-right bullies lashing out in public.

Sanctioned, Republican political violence will be the most unnerving story the D.C. press faces in coming years.

The Republican Party's Murderous New Normal

The case of Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted in the 2020 murders of two men amid chaos on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is ominous for the peaceful resolution of political disagreements. The sense of menace arises less from the utterly misguided 17-year-old shooter, or his complete escape from justice, than from the celebration by Republicans and "conservatives" of Rittenhouse and even of the killings he perpetrated.

This telling moment heightens the feeling of apprehension provoked by recurring threats and incidents of actual violence emanating from the far right and then justified, usually with indignant enthusiasm, by Republican elected officials at the highest level. The anger and hatred that have long simmered within that party are rapidly devolving into homicidal rage.

Consider the matter of Rep. Paul Gosar R-AR), who posted a video that depicted him murdering his colleague Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attempting to kill President Joe Biden with swords. Gosar's fantasy bloodbath resulted in his censure. (This offensive cartoon wasn't even original, ripping off an identical 2016 meme that showed "Donald Trump" attacking "Hillary Clinton.")

While Gosar's own siblings warn that he is mentally ill, their diagnosis doesn't excuse him, or Republicans who voted to shield him from censure. No public official in this country is entitled to promote deadly mayhem against his or her opponents, even as "symbolism" or "humor," without being held accountable.

All but two House Republicans voted to excuse Gosar's glorification of political violence. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remained silent for several days, until he finally issued a weak statement claiming that he had spoken with Gosar, who "took the video down and made a statement that he doesn't support violence to anybody."

Not only did McCarthy fail to utter a word condemning Gosar's behavior, but he promised the day after the censure vote that if Republicans win the House majority next year, both Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, another apostle of barbarism, on the lookout for Jewish space lasers, will be restored to the committee seats forfeited by their gross misconduct. "They may have better committee assignments," said McCarthy.

With his courting of white nationalists and adoption of neo-Nazi symbols, Gosar is a figure whose extremism would have embarrassed Republican leaders not so long ago. Only two years ago, in fact, McCarthy was sufficiently shamed by the actions of Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who openly sympathized with neo-Nazis, that he stripped King of committee rank almost as soon as he succeeded Paul Ryan as Republican leader in January 2019. He basked in the praise of those who had excoriated Ryan for ignoring King's appalling record, which McCarthy gladly then described as "reckless ... wrong ... and nothing associated with America."

What has changed in the past few years is the accelerating acceptance of violence among Republicans since the defeat of former President Donald Trump and his encouragement of sedition and insurrection by his followers, who now form the Republican Party's boiling base. For McCarthy, it is no longer possible to act with decency and principle against the neo-fascist element in his caucus if he ever wants to be speaker of the House.

That is why the minority leader, at first humiliated and infuriated by Trump's instigation of the Capitol riot, has refused to cooperate in the Congressional investigation of that grim and terrifying day. McCarthy is a leader only in one respect: he leads in Republican cowardice.

The signals of peril flash constantly: At a public event in Idaho, where a man asked when he could "kill these people," meaning Democrats, and was applauded loudly; at school board meetings across the country, where "concerned parents" threaten to murder public officials and their families; at the homes of election officials who answer the phone at night and hear obscenely menacing words.

Far worse than the hateful conduct of the Republican rabble, however, is the justification of it by Republican officialdom — and their attacks on officials who seek to investigate and discourage those threats. They have in the front of their minds the example of Mike Pence, the former vice president whose execution by a ravening mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" seemed entirely possible on January 6 — and the recent remarks by Pence's old boss, who justified the cries to hang him by his beloved mob as "common sense."

When political violence becomes the new normal, it will come for them too. But that's what accounts for Kevin McCarthy's cowardice. For all the bluster and the filibuster, he's sweating with fear. So, trying to protect himself, he joins the mob. It is a familiar story that never ends well.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.