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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: terrorism

Treat Mass Shootings As Terrorism — And Respond Accordingly

In a sense, the mass murder at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, was a symbol of how badly off-track our country has gotten. Amid the bunting and marching bands and families on lawn chairs, a disturbed idiot with a powerful rifle fired randomly at grandfathers, children and couples holding hands. Blood, bones, eyeballs and guts spilled onto the pavement alongside dropped thermoses and American flags. A 2-year-old was found, covered in blood, wandering alone. Both of his parents were dead. When his grandfather picked Aiden up at the hospital, the boy asked, "Are Mommy and Daddy coming soon?"

Mass shootings in public places are different from ordinary violence. I wish I had a dime for every time some Republican has complained that "the media" don't pay enough attention to shootings in Chicago and Detroit that happen on a regular basis. All murders are horrific of course, but the right is making a mistake if it tries to say that these mass shootings are a drop in the bucket when compared with the overall levels of violence that plague this country, or when they object that suicides actually account for 54% of gun deaths. Those deaths are indeed horrific, which is all the more reason to bring a sense of urgency to reducing them. It's sophistry to simply cite those statistics to wave away the epidemic of mass shootings.

Massacres at supermarkets, churches, classrooms, shopping malls and, good God, July Fourth parades are not like other violence. They shatter our sense of safety. They destroy our sense of normal life. Who among us has not wondered whether we might fall victim to this madness at a ballgame or a concert? This epidemic of mass random shootings is not like gang killings in cities. It's like terrorism. It invades the normal, peaceful world — the places in which we must feel secure.


After 9/11, we went to war and spent trillions of dollars on security. Arguably, we overreacted, but the sense of an overarching menace was powerful. It may have been true that an American was more likely to die in his bathtub than as the result of a terror attack, but people have some control over their bathtubs. They have control over their cars (another big source of annual deaths). And they use their cars and tubs every day without incident, whereas any encounter with a violent jihadist is bound to end badly. Terrorism by those attempting to destroy your way of life has a way of activating every primitive us-versus-them/fight-or-flight impulse in our brains. So even if the chance of any particular American becoming a victim of a gun-wielding jihadist shouting "Allahu Akbar!" was minimal, the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were imprinted on our minds and shouted "Defense!"

One of the least savvy things Barack Obama ever did was to downplay the threat of terrorism. He called ISIS the "JV team" and urged Americans not to respond with fear to attacks in San Bernardino, California, and elsewhere. Attempting to talk people out of their fear of terrorism was futile, and arguably played into the hands of Donald Trump, who used the San Bernardino attacks as the springboard for his vicious call for a ban on all Muslims entering the country.

Now it is Republicans who are attempting to talk people out of their fear. They're saying there's nothing we can do and that, actually, your kids are safer in school than in your living room and what about Newark? If Democrats were smart, they would seize upon this and be the party that takes your safety seriously.

And it's not dishonest. These mass shootings are a greater threat to our security than Islamic terrorism was. If a Fourth of July parade is not safe, nowhere is safe. America is a free-fire zone.

It is too damn easy to get powerful weapons. We don't need to repeal the Second Amendment (impossible anyway) to restrict the easy availability of powerful weapons. In the Highland Park case, just as in dozens of recent mass shootings, the young killer purchased his weapon legally. In the vast majority of these recent mass shootings, the killers just waltzed into gun stores and bought them. As my Bulwark colleagues have argued, we could raise the age to purchase a weapon to 25. We could require extensive training on gun safety. We could limit magazine sizes. We could restrict the sale of body armor. We could improve the background-check system (the Illinois creep passed his). In short, we could respond to the demoralizing fear that our country is so sick on the subject of guns and so divided that we cannot be safe in public. Not even on the Fourth of July.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


Alito's Abortion Opinion Encouraging Right-Wing Terror Threats

The right-wing freakout over peaceful protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices and chalk on the sidewalk in front of Republican senators’ homes, built around the seeming belief that any kind of protest at all is an act of violence, is actually a piece of classic right-wing projection. Conservatives assume that all protests feature intimidation and menace, bellicose threats, and acts of violence, because they themselves know no other way of protesting, as we’ve seen over the past five years and longer—especially on Jan. 6.

So it’s not surprising that the right-wing response to protests over the imminent demise of the Roe v. Wade ruling so far is riddled with white nationalist thugs turning up in the streets, and threats directed at Democratic judges. Ben Makuch at Vice reported this week on how far-right extremists are filling Telegram channels with calls for the assassination of federal judges, accompanied by doxxing information revealing their home addresses.

One Telegram channel features a roster of targets accompanied by an eye-grabbing graphic with an assault-style gun, complete with their photos, bios, and personal contact and address information, including two federal judges appointed with Democratic backgrounds: a Barack Obama appointee of color, and a Midwestern judge of Jewish ethnicity. Joining them on the roster are people like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, several bankers, and officials who served on a federal vaccine board.

According to Makuch, this particular channel has been repeatedly taken off Telegram, only to promptly reconstitute itself. Now in its fifth iteration, he reports that federal law enforcement is aware of the channel and is investigating the threats.

The anti-abortion right’s entire track record of protest, in fact, is brimming with case after case of violence and the politics of menace. Between 1977 and 2020, there have been 11 murders of health care providers, 26 attempted murders, 956 reported threats of harm and death, 624 stalking incidents, and four kidnappings, accompanied by 42 bombings, 194 arsons, 104 attempted arsons or bombings, and 667 bomb threats.


Meanwhile, right-wing pundits are frantically indulging in groundless claims of imminent left-wing violence: “Pro Abortion Advocates Are Becoming Violent After Supreme Court Leak,” read a Town Hall headline over a piece that documented some minor shoving incidents outside the Supreme Court building among the protesters there.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board speculated: “We hate to say this, but some abortion fanatic could decide to commit an act of violence to stop a 5-4 ruling. It’s an awful thought, but we live in fanatical times.”

A right-wing extremist was charged only three weeks ago in South Carolina with threatening federal judges, along with President Biden and Vice President Harris. The man—a 33-year-old inmate at the Department of Corrections and Proud Boy named Eric Rome—sent letters he claimed contained anthrax to the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, and left threatening voicemails: “Our intent is war on the federal government and specifically the assassination of the feds Marxist leaders Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Rome said on a voicemail, citing a laundry list of offenses: “the theft of the last presidential election, promoting critical race theory in our schools, the vax mandate, and using Marxist media outlets, notably CNN, to brainwash our citizens,” according to the indictment.

In his most recent threat in March, Rome threatened two unnamed South Carolina federal judges with death by stabbing: “Vacate the benches and we may let you live,” he wrote. Rome’s February letter to the Portland courthouse claimed he was sending “weapons grade anthrax” as a protest for failing “to arrest and prosecute Black Lives Matter activists despite the riots, looting, assaults and many other crimes by BLM in your city against White Citizens. .... WHITE POWER!”

Federal judges faced more than 4,500 threats last year, according to U.S. Marshals Service, which noted that it is concerned about the rise of domestic extremism in America.

A guide prepared for law enforcement in anticipation of social turmoil over abortion notes that while anti-abortion extremists have engaged in an extended litany of violence, that has not been the case among abortion-rights defenders: “Pro-choice extremists have primarily used threats, harassment, and vandalism, but has not resulted in lethal violence.”

SITE Intelligence Group, which shares threat information with a host of law enforcement agencies, released a May 4 report detailing calls for violence targeted at people protesting the expected ruling.

“Users on far-right, pro-Trump forum ‘The Donald’ encouraged members to violently oppose pro-abortion protesters demonstrating against the leaked Supreme Court draft signaling an overturn of Roe v. Wade,” reads the bulletin. “Reacting to the headline ‘Violence Breaks out at Pro-Abortion Protest After Democrat Politicians Call to ‘Fight,’' users made threats and called for police to harm protesters.”

A May 5 bulletin detailed the response by white supremacists: “A neo-Nazi channel responding to the leaked Supreme Court draft signaling an overturn of Roe v. Wade posted a previously circulated pro-life graphic calling to ‘bomb’ reproductive healthcare clinics and to ‘kill’ pro-choice individuals,” the bulletin said.

SITE Intelligence Group chief Rita Katz told Politico that misogyny is common in these quarters: “For far-right extremists, the focus on Roe v. Wade isn’t simply about religion or conventional debates about ‘when life starts,’” she said. “It’s about the toxic resentment of feminism that unites the entire spectrum of these movements, from Neo-Nazis to QAnon.”

Shortly after the January 6 insurrection, the violent factions involved in it like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers began forming alliances with Christian nationalists focused on abortion and attacking Planned Parenthood clinics. Over the past year, it’s also become clear that white nationalists such as Nick Fuentes’ “Groyper army” and other violence-prone bigots have adopted extreme forms of Christian nationalism.

They clearly see the protests over the imminent Supreme Court ruling as prime opportunities for more violence targeting their most hated enemies: women.

A federal counterterrorism official involved in tracking potential threats related to the Supreme Court decision told Yahoo News that authorities fear the ruling will revive the attacks on both judges and providers.

“They had targets on their backs before, now it’s that much more,” said the official.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Believe It Or Not, Giuliani Once Had A Finest Hour

Rudolph Giuliani was always somewhat off-center, even in his glory days as New York City mayor. But people who recall him then were stunned by his decline into a conspiracy-mongering swamp creature of Trump world. The 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 lets us remember that on that day of horror, Giuliani was on the chaotic scene, passing out courage and hope.

At 10 a.m. on 9/11, I was in New York on a train being kept underground in Penn Station. The two planes had just hit the World Trade Center.

The conductor came on the loudspeaker telling us repeatedly that "this is the safest place you can be right now." We didn't all have cellphones then, but a guy in the back of the car did and informed us that the Pentagon had been hit and the first tower, and then the second, had come down. The conductor asked us to pray for the people in the World Trade Center.

We were scared and shuddered imagining the terror downtown. We didn't know at that point who did it, why or whether they had stopped. We wanted to get out of town, but the train wasn't going anywhere because the tunnels were being searched for bombs.

The conductor came on one last time and told us to stay calm, take our bags and leave the train. We ascended into the light and a totally transformed city, country and world.

A public filled with dread needed consoling. President George W. Bush was incommunicado most of the day. But Giuliani was there among the smoking debris, the only visible political figure offering solace and, even more importantly, reassurance that life would go on.

He spoke eloquently about the collective grief. Asked how many had died, he said, "The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear."

But he also pleaded with New Yorkers to keep faith in the future. "Tomorrow, New York is going to be here," he said.

The most calming thing he said that afternoon, though, was that two of the subway lines were again operating and named which ones. Yes, it was going to be OK.

Giuliani became "America's Mayor," hailed as the ash-covered leader of 9/11. Time magazine made him "Person of the Year," and Queen Elizabeth gave him an honorary knighthood.

The backstory of Giuliani's role in 9/11 was less inspiring. One reason he became the hero of the streets was that he had pushed to place the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in the worst possible location, on the 23rd floor inside the 7 World Trade Center building. The office was created in response to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and the site was considered among the top targets for terrorists.

Giuliani has long had a strained relationship with the truth but went over the deep end in 2019 by peddling a theory that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. He forever disgraced himself by pushing lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump — culminating in his speech on Jan. 6, calling on Trump supporters to engage in "trial by combat" right before they ravaged the capital.

Giuliani had already fallen far. In 2018, he attended a game at Yankee Stadium, and when the announcer said, "The New York Yankees wish a very happy birthday to Mayor Giuliani," the crowd burst out with boos.

There's been much speculation about what happened to him. In New York City, he could have had bridges, roads and schools named for him. All that's left is a memory of Giuliani's finest hour urging battle against fear in the darkness of 9/11.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Why Republicans Need Jan. 6 Commission More Than They Realize

It's been a given that Democrats would benefit from an official probe into the January 6 rampage on the Capitol and Republicans would not. The thinking goes that Democrats would use a commission report to bash Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections. It would certainly detail how former President Donald Trump incited his supporters to commit the outrage.

Where Republicans err is believing that without a report, Democrats won't have the ammo to bash them effectively. But the trauma of that day is already seared in the American brain.

Legislation passed by the House would establish a 10-member commission appointed equally by Democrats and Republicans. Without Republican input, the official story of January 6 will be told by historians, journalists and the courts.

That was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's argument. "It's not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress," he said.

He's missing something. The trials of those who ransacked the Capitol will hardly help the Republican cause. And with Trump and many in the party continuing to reject the outcome of the election, Republicans would lose another chance to turn around the public's perception that they've got a screw loose.

It is rare that a president's party adds seats in midterm elections, but Republicans made that happen in 2002 under George W. Bush. That's because they campaigned on the terror of 9/11. They didn't need fancy explanations, because the national calamity — jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center —was so visual and visceral.

The same can be said of the horrific imagery that emerged from January 6 as Trump supporters vandalized the Capitol and beat cops with flagpoles. It's all on video.

And so is the rally at the Ellipse, where Trump pushed the dangerous lie: "We will never give up. We will never concede. ... You don't concede when there's theft involved."

Back in 2002, fear of terrorism created a new group of voters, the so-called security moms, who rewarded Republicans in the midterms. Shortly after, former President Bill Clinton criticized his party for failing to address Americans' widespread anxiety. "We have to have a clear and strong national security stand," he said.

Two years later, Bush was reelected, despite growing dismay at his Iraq War. Clinton had already seen that coming. "When people are feeling insecure," he'd said in 2002, "they'd rather have someone who is strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right."

The recent election showed that Trumpification has already cost the Republican Party female voters, now called suburban moms. Come the midterms, these women won't like pictures of furniture piled up at the House chamber doors and officers with guns drawn as the mob tried to enter.

Some Republicans open to a commission pushed for a December 31 deadline to wrap up its work. That would have provided very little time to do an adequate job, but, they reasoned, in getting it over with by year end, the results wouldn't be waved at their candidates right before the midterms.

Republicans can't possibly believe that Democrats won't be featuring that sickening day in their campaign ads, however old a commission report. Republicans would be better off if they kept their hands in telling the story. They could have used their cooperation to do what Clinton wanted Democrats to do in 2002: to reassure the public that the democracy will be defended.

If they don't want to help construct a respected explanation of the awful events of January 6, then fine. Democrats will be happy to do it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

How Biden Can Curtail Terrorism, Tax Evasion, And Money Laundering

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

Money laundering, both for terrorist finance and tax evasion, threatens national security. Now a private group that watches the quality of anti-money laundering efforts has put forth a smart plan to modernize and upgrade our government's capacity to track illicit cross-border financial transactions.

This is news you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Global Financial Integrity has a plan, and it's a good one, to better America's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. FinCEN, as it's known, is a critical government agency housed at Treasury and staffed heavily with IRS financial sleuths. It doesn't get nearly the respect or budget it deserves.

Global Financial Integrity is itself an under-appreciated Washington nonprofit funded by a host of sources including the Ford Foundation and five governments, though not the United States. On a budget of not much more than $1 million per year, it has done solid work calling attention to the growing problem of illicit finance.

Jim Henry, DCReport's economics correspondent, has spent decades documenting the flow of illicit money. He estimates from analysis of official banking and trade documents that at least $40 trillion of illicit money sloshes around the globe. The total may be $50 trillion.

To get an idea of the gigantic size of that bag of corrupt money consider this: Henry's lower-end estimate almost equals the combined annual economic output of the world's two largest economies, America and China.

Global Financial Integrity, in a report titled "Enhancing National Security by Re-imagining FinCEN," makes these recommendations:

  1. Give the FinCEN director a seat on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council (NSC) to raise the agency's stature within the national security community.
  2. Create within FinCEN a National Anti-Money Laundering Data Center for advanced data collection, synthesis, analysis, and distribution to law enforcement for AML activity.
  3. Establish a "Manhattan Project" to identify, develop, and use state-of-the-art technologies needed to fulfill the technology for that data center.
  4. Launch within FinCEN a National Anti-Money Laundering Training Center which will be an anti-money laundering knowledge and education hub for FinCEN staff, financial institution regulators, law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels and for both state and federal prosecutors.
  5. Create a Strategic Analysis Team to examine emerging and long-term trends in money laundering methods and computer technologies to counter those threats.

Those are superb ideas all. But will Congress care?

A core problem with hunting for terrorist finance is that the tools used to sift through billions of transactions involving trillions of dollars are the financial equivalent of trawling the ocean bottom for cod. Trawlers catch plenty of cod, but they also drag in many unwanted species.

Tax Cheats Off The Hook

The George W. Bush administration was averse to a serious hunt for big-league tax cheats. It disconnected from a nascent movement by major countries to coordinate their tax policies, a boon to tax cheats. It even refused to hire 80 more IRS investigators to hunt for transactions by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the wake of 9/11.

Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime

The official excuse was that taxpayers couldn't afford an extra $12 million in spending. That is an absurdity when trillions were being spent on the wars in Afghanistan, still underway, and Iraq. But the funding denial made perfect sense if you knew that anti-money laundering nets catch tax cheats along with terrorists. And since the political donor class is rife with tax cheating, catching tax cheats can be inconvenient for politicians in power, and fellow party members, as a Congressional staffer recently reminded me.

In writing about money laundering in casinos since 1988, in my coverage of taxes since 1995, and on terrorist finance after 9/11, I developed a deep appreciation for the unsung work of FinCEN – and recognition of its weaknesses.

More People, Better Tech

What is needed now to strengthen FinCEN: more staff, super-sophisticated computers on par with the National Security Agency, and, most of all, adding a seat for FinCEN at White House National Security Council meetings.

A FinCEN director once told me that given enough time and resources his staff could find a single $19.99 credit card transaction anywhere in the world. The 9/11 attacks were cheap, costing only about $100,000. We shouldn't forget that relatively small expenditures can be used to cause enormous harm.

To find the little transactions behind big attacks in the future FinCEN needs enormous computer power to separate golden nuggets of fact from the massive overburden of routine financial transactions. FinCEN also needs to be set free to find not just terrorists, but tax cheats.

With trillions of dollars of illicit money in the hands of criminals, kleptocrats, and terrorists, and hundreds of billions of dollars of federal income taxes evaded each year, it's long past time to upgrade FinCEN.

Trump Signals That His Coup Plotting Isn’t Really Over

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

The violent mob Donald Trump sent to attack and loot our Capitol receded during the night, but his efforts to overthrow our government continue. Trump signaled in a Tweet that even after he leaves office his criminally seditious behavior will persist.

This is "only the beginning of the fight to make America Great Again!" Trump declared at 3:49 a.m. Thursday. (An aide tweeted his message after Twitter locked Trump's own account for spreading dangerous lies.)

While Trump's middle of the night statement also promised a peaceful transition of power when Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, it came without a critical word about the chaos and violence Wednesday by fanatical Trumpists in California, Kansas, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, and Utah.


Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, among others, defended or excused Trump's solicitation of mob violence. Eight senators and a majority of House Republicans voted to reject the certified election results from two states. Hawley should be ousted by the rest of the Senate, not the least because Hawley gave a raised fist in solidarity with the mob as he entered the Capitol Wednesday.

Support for Rioters

Trump's baseless claims that he won by a landslide in November—for which he produced no evidence in 60 failed lawsuits—are believed by a large share of Republicans. A poll during the siege found that 45% of Republicans support the mob attack while more than two-thirds of the GOP believe the violence and looting pose no threat to our democracy.

If other polls support this finding it is a powerful measure of how much enduring damage Trump has inflicted on our democracy by promoting disrespect for the rule of law. That Republicans, of all people, would support lawlessness and violence after decades of "law and order" sloganeering shows their fervor for authoritarian rule.

Propaganda favoring Trump plays a major role in the willingness of many Republicans to excuse Trump's criminal behavior and contemptuous violation of his oath of office.

Primetime hosts on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News repeatedly told the lie Wednesday evening that Capitol invaders were not Trumpist thugs, but Antifa posing as Trump supporters or at least some of them were Antifa. Fox News even posted a story excusing Trump's attempted coup. Fox politics writer Brooke Singman wrote:

"Trump said 'these are the things and events that happen,' referring to violent protests that sent the U.S. Capitol Building into lockdown when a 'landslide victory' is 'vicously [sic] stripped away from great patriots,' while urging America to 'remember this day forever'. "

Trump's Felonies

Trump's remarks at the rally, where he told the mob to go to the Capitol while he headed in the other direction to the security of the White House, make him liable for prosecution for at least three federal crimes: inciting insurrection, sedition and advocating the violent overthrow of the government. He could be liable for criminal conspiracy charges and local District of Columbia criminal charges.

Adding to the liability for criminal charges over the attack were the words used to rile up the crowd by his son Don Jr. and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who called for "trial by combat."

While some Capitol Police engaged in combat with the attackers, and one lone uniformed agent was forced to retreat up stairways as a menacing crowd closed in on him, some Capitol Police held doors open for the invaders and others smiled at them, video showed.

Had the invaders been Black instead of white it is likely the attack would have been met with batons, handcuffs and even indiscriminate gunfire by Capitol Police. As CNN reporter Omar Jimenez tweeted: "I saw more arrests during protests in Minneapolis this summer than I have watching people storm the US Capitol."

Racists In The Capitol Police?

That conduct raises questions about whether racist and fascist groups have infiltrated the Capitol Police, just as they have many local and state police agencies.

Extensive video, including Congressional security cameras, can be used to identify the perpetrators of the first sacking of our Capitol since the British attacked in 1814. Every one of these insurrectionists must be identified, arrested, indicted, tried and if convicted given long prison sentences.

The most important question that should be asked of Merrick Garland, the federal appeals court judge Biden is nominating to be attorney general, is whether he will commit to ensuring the prosecution of every one of these criminals.

Other than making deals to leverage some perpetrators into admitting guilt to the most serious crimes in return for very slight reductions in sentences, these enemies of America should be shown no mercy by our Justice Department. They also should all be tried in Washington, D.C., where they committed their many felonies.

Beyond D.C.

A variety of actions by Trumpists from Atlanta to the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday showed how deeply their desire to overthrow our government permeates American society. Posing as patriots, these people spout conspiracy theories, make remarks showing they lack even a junior high school civics understanding of our Constitution, and many call for violence against minorities, notably Muslims and Black Americans.

Some of what these American brown shirts did Wednesday:

  • Armed Trumpists marshaled outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.
  • In Sacramento police arrested 12 Trumpists for illegal possession of pepper spray during protests at the California State Capitol.
  • In Salem, Ore., Trump's Proud Boy thugs fought outside the state Capitol, prompting police to declare an unlawful assembly. A woman burned in effigy Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.
  • In Olympia, Wash., Trumpist thugs broke down the fence at the governor's official mansion while Gov. Jay Inslee and his family were inside.
  • In Atlanta, armed Trump thugs gathered outside the Capitol, prompting state police to hustle Brad Raffensperger, the top state elections official, out of the building, partly out of concern about the presence of a former KKK leader who now directs one of Trump's faux patriot support groups. Officials in Fulton County, which surrounds much of Atlanta, suspended vote counting because of safety concerns.
  • Trump's thugs also harassed random people. In Los Angeles, a Black woman walking down the street was surrounded by a score of Trump's thugs who menacingly demanded she declare who she voted for in the November elections.
  • In Topeka, Kansas some demonstrators, echoing Trump's baseless claims he really won the November election by a landslide, entered the state Capitol, but were peaceful.
  • On an American Airlines flight from Texas to Washington, "flight attendants are struggling to control a plane full of Trump supporters as they display a pro-Trump projection and harass others passengers bound for D.C.," freelance journalist Maranie R. Staab reported, posting a video to authenticate her story.

That a poll found many Trumpers support the insurrection Wednesday is not surprising if they rely only on supposed new organizations that act as propaganda arms of Team Trump.

Fox News hosts on Wednesday evening described the violent mob not as Trump supporters, but leftists posing as Trumpists, a conspiracy theory with even less factual basis than Trump's delusional claims of election fraud.

What Trump made clear early Thursday morning is that after his term ends on Jan. 20, he will continue his efforts to overthrow the government he swore on oath to defend.

The question of the day is what Democrats, now that they control the House, Senate and White House, will do to protect our democracy? Will they decide to let bygones be bygones and move ahead, or will they do their duty and bring Trump and those who committed crimes on his behalf to justice?

West Virginia GOP Legislator Charged In Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

At least one Republican state lawmaker has been arrested and federally charged as part of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Department of Justice announced on Friday.

West Virginia state Del. Derrick Evans filmed himself inside of the Capitol, breaking into the building with the mob of Trump supporters.

He's one of 12 GOP state lawmakers who were either at the rally where Trump incited the mob to head to the Capitol, or were in the Capitol itself as part of the insurrection — according to a list compiled by FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich.

Some of the lawmakers claimed they were not part of the violence. But their presence ties them to the horrific events the country watched unfold and is leading to calls for their resignations.

The Republican lawmakers are:

Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver: At 6:41 p.m., as law enforcement was still working to clear the building of the violent insurrectionists who broke in as part of a now-failed coup attempt, Weaver tweeted a photo from earlier in the day at the Capitol praising the mob.

"Epic and historic day gathering with fellow Patriots from all over the nation DC," Weaver tweeted.

Weaver admitted to the Tennessean that she was "in the thick of it" and falsely claimed that there "wasn't any violence going on here."

But Trump supporters were captured on video assaulting journalists and law enforcement officials by countless media outlets and individuals at the scene, in reports that traveled around the world. One Capitol Police officer is now dead from injuries sustained trying to protect the hundreds of lawmakers and workers inside, in addition to four others who died.

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase: A leading contender to be the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, Chase posted an image of the pro-Trump mob gathered outside of the Capitol to Facebook, writing, "DC Rally! SHARE what the media won't show you!"

She later defended the violent coup attempt in a video, saying, "I will tell you that while I do support peaceful protest, that I believe that we the people have had enough, and when you back good people, law-abiding citizens, into the corner, they will push back when you give them no other options."

The Virginia Democratic Party called Chase's comments "despicable" and "what the whole @VA_GOPhas become."

West Virginia state Del. Derrick Evans: Like Weaver, Evans was one of the insurrectionists who illegally entered the Capitol.

The New York Times reported that in a since-deleted video posted to his Facebook Page, Evans screams "We did it!" upon entering the building, adding "Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!"

Evans also ignored demands from Capitol Police officers to leave, shouting "Patriots inside, baby!" according to the Times.

He has been charged by the Department of Justice for his role and is now facing calls to resign.

Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock: Maddock and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, spoke at the rally before the violent insurrection took place.

Meshawn retweeted a video of the mob walking toward the building and said it was "the most incredible crowd and sea of people I've ever walked with."

A local Michigan Patch site reported that Meshawn claimed she left before the violence started.

Missouri state Rep. Justin Hill: Hill, a former police officer, did not attend his own swearing-in at the Missouri state Capitol to attend the rally and later the violent insurrection at the Capitol.

In a post on Facebook, Hill claimed that he went to the Capitol but left "immediately" when he heard that someone had been shot and suggested that the violent insurrectionists inside were not Trump supporters — a lie right-wing media and some Republican lawmakers are pushing.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano: A local news outlet reported that Mastriano led a bus of Trump supporters down to the rally, where Trump called on his supporters to "fight" and march to the Capitol, where the violence began.

Mastriano told a local news outlet that, "At no point did we enter the Capitol building, at no point did we tread upon the Capitol steps, and at no point did we tread upon police lines. Obviously, we're there together and we don't want to get caught in any violence, so we left out of there."

Nevertheless, his Democratic colleagues are calling for his resignation.

"Doug Mastriano is a sitting senator who actively organized a violent insurrection in an attempt to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. Sen. Corman & GOP leadership should call for his immediate resignation. If not, he should be removed from all committee or leadership positions," Democratic state Sen. Tim Kearney tweeted.

Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem: Finchem tweeted on Jan. 1 that he was traveling to Washington, D.C., to "fight for President @realDonaldTrump," adding that he was going to be at a protest at 10 a.m. at the Capitol building, where the insurrection occurred.

Finchem later tweeted a photo of the mob on the steps of the Capitol with the caption, "What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud."

That language appears to directly support the insurrection that took place.

Finchem later complained that he could not get food delivered to his hotel room after attending the violent insurrection because of law enforcement activity.

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman: Eastman was at the rally earlier in the day where Trump incited the mob but claimed that he did not go to the Capitol, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Still, Eastman traveled from Alaska all the way to Washington, D.C., to attend a rally, whose sole purpose was to egg on the effort to force Republican members of Congress to block President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

Eastman told the Daily News that he thought the riot and break-in was "pretty terrible."

Democratic state Rep. Sara Hannan told the outlet that she heard from constituents who wanted Eastman to be expelled for attending the rally, but said he would not be because he had a First Amendment right to attend a rally.

"If his picture shows up having breached and vandalized the Capitol buildings ... then I think there should be repercussions," Hannan told the Daily News. "But as far as his right to protest, that's an American's right."

Incoming Nevada state Assemblywoman Annie Black: A local news outlet in Nevada reported that Black was at the Capitol when the violence broke out but did not go past the security line "to avoid being associated with the mob."

Like Eastman, Black traveled a long distance to attend a rally that was specifically trying to pressure Congress to overturn a free and fair election. Yet she condemned the violence, later trying to blame it on "rogue Trump supporters or outside agitators" — the same kind of blame-shifting rhetoric that has been seen on right-wing media outlets.

"Whoever these people were, whether they were rogue Trump supporters or outside agitators, they should be identified, arrested, charged, prosecuted, and severely punished," Black told 8NewsNow.

Illinois state Rep. Chris Miller: Miller posted a video to Facebook at the rally before the mob breached the Capitol.

He used violent rhetoric, calling the rally a "great cultural war to see if we will survive, whether if we will remain a free people."

He spoke of the "dangerous Democrat terrorists" who are "trying to destroy our country."

Miller's wife is Rep. Mary Miller, also a Republican, who is now facing calls to resign after she spoke at the rally and said "Hitler was right" to recruit youth into his Nazi movement.

Outgoing Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones: Jones attended the rally that preceded the violent insurrection, where he officially declared that he was leaving the Democratic Party and joining the GOP.

"Moments ago, I announced that I am officially joining the Republican Party," Jones tweeted. "Now more than ever, the Republican Party is in desperate need of leaders that know how to fight. I know how to fight."

Jones took a selfie at the march to the Capitol with Finchem, one of the other GOP lawmakers at the insurrection.

Outgoing Arizona state Rep. Anthony Kern: Kern posted photos traveling to the District of Columbia for the rally urging a coup, tweeting on Jan. 4, "DC Hear We COME!!!!!! #StoptheSteal"

Kern went to the rally where Trump fired up his supporters to go to the Capitol. He tweeted a photo of himself outside of security fencing, and it's unclear whether he went inside.

Kern lost reelection in 2020.

Former Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone: Saccone is no longer in the state Legislature, but he was also part of the violent mob at the Capitol.

He said in a since-deleted Facebook post that, "We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken through the barricades. We will save this nation. Are u with me?"

Saccone lost a special election to Democratic Rep. Connor Lamb in 2018. Saccone went on to lose a GOP primary in a different United States House district in Pennsylvania later that year.

The violent insurrection that occurred on Wednesday was spurred on by Trump himself.

Trump called for Republicans to fight 20 times in his rambling one-hour-and-13 minute-long speech, in which he called on his supporters to march to the Capitol to "give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don't need any of our help, we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country," according to a transcript.

Trump is likely to be impeached for a second time over the incitement.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

VIDEO: Thugs Who Attacked Capitol Were Prepared To Take Hostages — And Execute Them

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The people who besieged the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday were not merely rioters and insurrectionists. Some of them appear to have been intent on taking hostages and murdering them, and there are signs that the attempt was carefully planned out.

Photo evidence shows people who entered the building came prepared to take hostages, and to bind them with zip ties. Witnesses say talk was rampant about executing Vice President Mike Pence—who only an hour before the riot had declined to follow Donald Trump's urgings and object to the Electoral College results—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.


Capitol insurrectionists chant 'Hang Mike Pence!', vow to return to 'finish the job' www.youtube.com

The rioters could be seen on video chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" as they entered the Capitol. Getty Images photographer Win McNamee captured the startling image of a masked and armed man clambering about Senate chambers—where Pence had been presiding over the proceedings only an hour before—with a parcel of premade zip cuffs. Other photosshowed multiple invaders carrying restraints—in one case was a man identified as a military veteran with a security clearance.

Reuters photographer Jim Bourg, who was with the rioters, reported:

I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor. It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.

Journalist Andrew Feinberg reported that the rioters went on the hunt for Pence, Pelosi, and Schumer upon gaining entry to the Capitol. White nationalist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet livestreamed himself invading Pelosi's office and vandalizing it while making mock phone calls from it.

The entire scenario these invaders seemed to have in mind bore more than a passing resemblance to the plot dreamed upby the members of Michigan's "Wolverine Watchmen," who before their arrests by the FBI for conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer actually planned to invade the state Capitol in Lansing, take public officials hostage, and then televise or livestream their executions.

And there are indications that the invasion of the Capitol was carefully planned, perhaps with the participation of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group that specializes in recruiting and radicalizing military and law enforcement veterans. The organization's leader and founder—who as a speaker at previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C. and had urged Trump to use the Insurrection Act in order to declare martial law—was spotted at Wednesday's rally, and members of the group not only were seen appearing to prepare for the assault on the Capitol, but were seen on video shot by journalist Ford Fischer playing a key role in the initial breaching of its security perimeter.

Oath Keepers have played a leading role in whipping up groundless conspiracist hysteria over what they call the "stolen election"—and even before the election had called for Trumpto declare martial law. Rhodes urged his members to prepare for "civil war," and after the election, Oath Keepers' rhetoricveered into outright threats of violence against public officials and journalists.

Whichever former law enforcement officials might be involved in these schemes are seemingly oblivious to the existence of federal laws that make even planning to kidnap members of Congress a crime punishable with life imprisonment (namely, 18 U.S. Code § 351).

Nothing appears to deter these extremists, who are currently basking in massive online adulation by their far-right brethren for the attack on American democracy as Jared Holt, analyst for the Atlantic Council, explained to Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.

"By all measurable effects, this was for far-right extremists one of the most successful attacks that they've ever launched," Holt said. "This will be lionized and propagandized on likely for the next decade."

Moreover, he explained, the insurrectionists' success in overtaking the building will be a long-term talking point for the radical right: "These communities are discussing the attack as some sort of validation that it actually is possible for them to exert their power like this and achieve results. They're talking about this as the first stab in a greater revolution."

Certainly, the insurrectionists Wednesday had no doubts that they would be returning with even greater violence in mind. Multiple rioters verbally attacked police officers trying to hold the line, telling them, as one of them did afterwards: "Traitors get the rope. Traitors get the noose. Wait till we come back with rifles, motherfucker. You think that's an idle threat?"

One of the Capitol invaders interviewed by Fischer blamed Mike Pence for the day's violence, notably the shooting of an insurrectionist near the House chambers by a Capitol Police officer.

"We're not putting up with this tyrannical rule!" he shouted. "If we gotta come back here and start a revolution, and take all of these traitors out, which is what should be done, then we will."