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FBI Probing Contacts Between GOP Members And Capitol Rioters

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

America watched the events of the January riot and insurgency occur in real time. They saw Trump supporters pushing down police lines to swarm the Capitol grounds. Then watched as those Trump supporters swarmed up the Capitol steps. Watched them smash through the doors and windows. Watched them surge into the halls of Congress carrying zip ties and weapons. Watched them raid congressional offices and stroll the floors of both House and Senate while calling for the murder of Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi.

As more evidence about events of that day appears, what's clear is that America didn't come close to seeing all the violence and destruction brought on by those trying to roll back the revolution and crown Trump as America's king. New testimony from those present on that day, video not previously seen by the public, and evidence developed by investigation is revealing a situation that was even more violent, more destructive, and more threatening to the nation than was obvious from the jaw-dropping scenes that appeared on television screens.

And in addition to evidence of destructive violence, there is also increasing evidence of involvement from Republican officials. That includes both a State Department official now wanted for taking an active role in the violence, and increasing signs of coordination between those breaking into Congress and the Republican legislators inside.

As the Associated Press reports, emails, photos, and other documents collected from those present around the Capitol on January 6 is painting a more complete image of the actions of the pro-Trump insurgents. Taken as a whole, these documents show just how overwhelmed the Capitol Police were in the first moments of the assault, and how Metro D.C. Police and others who rushed in to help only ended up as part of a disorganized patchwork response as communications and control broke down.

Included in this material is the story of a pair of Arlington firefighters who came to the Capitol on January 6, and stuck around to assist the Capitol Police during what was expected to be a large protest. Instead, the two found themselves the only medics on the scene while operating right under the feet—and flagpoles—of an angry mob. Lost in the confusion and hemmed in by thousands of screaming Trumpists, the firefighters attempted to triage dozens of officers who had been injured, but had no way to get them to safety.

Meanwhile, police were trying to respond to dozens of different threats that seemed to be breaking out everywhere at once. Not only were violent extremists grappling with police and bashing their way into buildings, there were threats of potential snipers in trees, a report that the Proud Boys intended to destroy the local water supply, the pipe bombs at both the RNC and DNC headquarters, and reports of still more armed militia groups incoming. Police were unable to concentrate forces at the Capitol steps, because chaos seemed to be happening everywhere.

This explosion of violence may have appeared chaotic and overwhelming to the police, but it clearly did not happen without planning. And as CNNreports, some of that planning may have been coordinated by the people who police were literally dying to protect. During the investigations of Jan. 6 that have been launched in Congress, a number of Republicans—most notably senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz—have repeatedly expressed concern about the idea of the FBI looking into phone records of those in Congress. Hawley in particular has fumed about this "violation of privacy" in multiple hearings.

He may have good reason to be concerned. Because it appears that investigators are, in fact, checking out communications between members of Congress and some of the 300 people who have already been charged with crimes related to the insurgency. Some of this seems to be records showing that criminal insurgents claimed to be working in coordination with members of Congress. Which isn't surprising, considering that two of those arrested had this conversation on the Senate floor as they dug through senator's desk and ripped pages from reports.

Man 1: "There's gotta be something in here we can fucking use against these scumbags. This is a good one, him and Hawley or whatever. Hawley, Cruz."
Man 2: "Hawley, Cruz? I think Cruz would want us to do this... So I think we're good."

Investigators are not just looking at communications that took place on January 6, but contacts between officials and the attackers over the period leading up to the insurgency. That might finally produce some information about the large tour that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) gave in the days just before the assault.

Those investigators might also want to take a look at the 2,000 page report compiled by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D_CA) that looks at the social media of her Republican colleagues over the weeks leading up to January 6.

"This review lists public social media posts from Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were sworn-in to office in January 2021 and who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election."

Lofgren's report includes not just social media comments that seem to be inviting violence, but those that encourage the Big Lie about "election fraud," as well as other elements, such as conspiracy claims related to QAnon. As Lofgren says, the report is "representative, but not exhaustive." Still, it is a handy reference to the lies, incitement, and more lies being pushed onto social media by Republicans in Congress. Also included in Lofgren's review are a number of statements from Republicans, particularly those in the House, that continue to support the Big Lie even after the assault on the Capitol.

Investigators are also looking into the funding of the extremists who attacked the Capitol. While Republicans frequently make false claims about "antifa buses" and Black protesters being sent to locations by a Jewish billionaire, the truth is that numerous militia groups really did meet up at a series of locations and coordinate their arrival in D.C. And it seems entirely possible that those operations were funded by Republican donors, just as the tea party protests were a decade earlier.

However, there's at least one Republican official whose role in the Jan. 6 attack doesn't require digging through phone records or social media. AsThe Washington Post reports, Federico Klein, a former State Department aide appointed by Donald Trump, was arrested Thursday on multiple felony charges. On January 6, Klein joined the insurgents confronting police in a tunnel beneath the Capitol. There he wrenched a riot shield away from one officer and used it to beat others. He also used that shield to hold open a door so that more insurgents could enter the building. At the time, Klein was an active employee at the State Department and enjoyed a Top Secret clearance. His appointment to the State Department followed a paid position in the Trump campaign.

Ron Johnson will not explain how Klein was actually a member of an antifa sleeper cell.

Intel Report Confirms MBS Ordered Khashoggi Assassination

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

After a last-minute delay, and something of a stutter step in which Friday's release appeared to be momentarily posted, then withdrawn, then posted again, the truth about the U.S. intelligence assessment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder is finally public. And that truth is evident on the very first line of the brief document's executive summary.

"We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul to capture or kill Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Since that operation including sending someone with a bone saw, and a body double to wear Khashoggi's clothes around Istanbul after his death, there can be little doubt that the actual intention of the squad that bin Salman sent to Istanbul was to capture, followed by definitely kill.

Following this release, it's been announced that the Treasury Department will seek sanctions against the former head of Saudi intelligence, Gen. Ahmed al-Asiri, and against members of the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force (RIF) who were involved in the assassination. However, it also seems that if anything is going to happen to the man who instigated, ordered, and paid for this murder, it's not going to happen today. Because there are no plans to sanction bin Salman.

But that doesn't mean there will be no consequences.

While the date on the cover of the barely over two-page document may say 2021, there's little doubt that this report was prepared shortly after Khashoggi's murder. Meaning that all the time that Donald Trump and Jared Kushner were laughing it up with bin Salman, they knew he was a murderer.

Honestly, it's not as if there was any real doubt. As the report makes clear, at the time of Khashoggi's murder, bin Salman had consolidated his authority and had an absolute stranglehold over Saudi Arabia. The idea that a hit team was going to travel to another country and carry out a gruesome torture and execution without bin Salman's express orders was always ridiculous. But of course, not so ridiculous that bin Salman wasn't willing to execute some of his lieutenants to make a show of "investigating" the death, and not so ridiculous that Trump was willing to offend his most admired brutal dictator.

The failure to directly sanction bin Salman appears to be a recognition that this would essentially represent cutting off the U.S./Saudi relationship, because, for all intents and purposes, there is no Saudi government other than bin Salman. Generating such a deliberate schism could affect the security of other allied nations in the Middle East, including Qatar—which has already suffered from Donald Trump's endorsement of a Saudi-sponsored blockade around the location, that includes the largest U.S. military base in the region. It could also disrupt efforts to secure peace for Israel.

Following the release, Rep. Adam Schiff issued a statement saying that he was disappointed that the Biden administration hadn't found a way to sanction bin Salman personally without causing a break in the international relationship. But still: "This is an official U.S. government statement that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has blood on his hands, and that blood belongs to an American resident and journalist. And I think that's very powerful."

Not surprisingly, the Saudi government has issued its own statement in response.

"The Ministry notes that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom's leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions."

The release of the report appears to be intended to set a new tone with bin Salman. Biden has made it clear that they're not "pals." He has no intention of building a hotel in Riyadh or developing a golf course in the desert. The United States recognizes the importance of Saudi Arabia in the region, but doesn't intend to give tacit approval to its brutal acts.

Don't expect this to be the last word on Khashoggi. Or on the U.S. response.

Long-Buried Report Proves Trump Knew Saudi Prince Ordered Khashoggi Murder

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In October of 2018, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi stepped into a Saudi embassy in Istanbul to deal with what was supposed to be routine paperwork related to his upcoming marriage. His fiancée was waiting outside. He never returned.

Though it took months for the details of the story to emerge, it was clear almost from the beginning that Khashoggi has been the victim of Saudi usurper—and friend to both Donald Trump and Jared Kushner—Mohammed bin Salman. When more of the story did emerge, it could not have been more disturbing. It showed how bin Salman dispatched a murder squad to intercept Khashoggi, beat him, torture him, dismember him, and then murder him … in that order. When the journalist was dead, a member of the team that had killed him donned his clothing and walked around Istanbul in an effort to plant a false trail. Finally, it seems that Khashoggi's remains were burned in an ovenspecially created for that purpose.

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 · 2:19:32 PM EST · Mark Sumner

I have no information to go along with this, but …

As the horrific details emerged, Donald Trump continued to stand by bin Salman. Trump refused to sanction the "Crown Prince"—who inserted himself into that position after conducting an internal coup that saw multiple members of his own family either killed or sent into exile. Trump also refused to produce a required report about the murder, saying he had a "right to refuse" the clear letter of the law.

There may be no better signal of how President Joe Biden is returning justice to America's foreign policy than this: On Thursday, the White House will finally release the report. And it clearly shows bin Salman is responsible for the murder of American resident Jamal Khashoggi.

As CNN reported on Wednesday, court documents from a civil suit filed in Canada included documents explicitly showing bin Salman's orders to send the hit team after Khashoggi. Those documents show how the murder squad—which came prepared with bone saws and other tools to both torture the journalist and take his body apart when it was all over—was dispatched using a private aviation company that bin Salman took over just months before. This private fleet of planes gave bin Salman the capacity he needed to get a 15-man team in and out of Istanbul without having to line his bloody killers up for seats on a commercial aircraft.

It's just one more piece of evidence in a case that was already definitive in showing how bin Salman ordered the hit against Khashoggi, arranged the gruesome details, and gloated over his success. After which Trump and Kushner refused to hold him to account, with Kushner advising the crown murderer to just lay low for a bit until the press got distracted by other events. Trump certainly did not allow the murder of a U.S. resident journalist to get in the way of making enormous arms sales to bin Salman.

But as NBC News reports, Thursday will see a big shift in the relationship between the United States and the man currently calling the shots in Saudi Arabia. That's because the U.S. will release a report that clearly shows how bin Salman approved and directed the murder of Khashoggi.

According to NBC's sources, this is not a new report. This is the report that Trump refused to release in 2018. That means this report isn't just a condemnation of bin Salman, it's also another strong condemnation of Trump.

Trump knew all along that his pal bin Salman was a raging murderer. But then, Trump didn't care, just as he didn't care that bin Salman oversaw a growing number of executions each year, with hundreds of people being beheaded, hung, or crucified for defying his reign. For one thing, Trump likes seeing people executed. For another, bin Salman "pays in cash." Trump doesn't consider bin Salman a bad guy just because he seized control illegally, chased down members of his own family, carried out a brutal proxy war in which thousands of children have died, and went to enormous lengths to carry out the murder of a journalist that included cutting off the man's fingers one by one. Trump considers bin Salman a role model.

But he's not a model of what anyone should consider a just leader or a reliable ally. As Reuters reports, the report—which has until now been hidden behind a Top Secret stamp applied under Trump—makes clear bin Salman's complicity in the torture and murder of Khashoggi. The release of the report signals not just that the United States holds bin Salman personally responsible for this death, but that the nation will be reexamining its relationship with the government in Riyadh and the horrendous Saudi record on human rights.

Bin Salman still has plenty of leftover U.S. bombs for attacking civilian areas of Yemen. He's also unlikely to ever face justice for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But at least the United States won't be hurrying back to kiss his feet any time soon.

Trump Enraged By Supreme Court Refusal To Shield His Taxes From Prosecutors

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Donald Trump came into office having just paid a $20 million fine for duping Americans out of their savings. He was forced to close the Trump Foundation after it became clear that Trump had used the "charity" to buy portraits of himself, renovate a hotel fountain, and pay off a $1 million golf bet. Among other things. And all of that followed Trump's casino paying a record fine after being cited 106 times for money laundering.

Considering how much of the last four years was dedicated to the daily concern that Donald Trump might decide that launching a war on Canada would be good for his ratings on Fox, or that he might just press the wrong big red button when he was thirsty, the most basic thing about Trump became rather easy to overlook. He's a crook. There is no situation in which Trump hasn't been willing to dupe, cheat, and extort his way to another dollar.

So when Donald Trump was gifted, through the sad actions of nature and the even sadder actions of Mitch McConnell, with the opportunity to name three new justices to the Supreme Court, he must have felt an enormous sense of relief. Finally, he must have thought, he would have a buffer between his unending need to lie, cheat, and steal, and the petty concerns of mortals with their laws.

As it turns out … nope.

As CNN reports, Trump's attempts to keep his past tax documents secret foundered on the rocks of the Supreme Court for a second time on Monday when an unsigned decision refused to block access from New York state investigators. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance is now expected to take delivery of Trump's giant heap of tax records "within the next few days."

It's taken over a year to get to this point, as Trump's endless string of appeals have taken the case up to the Supreme Court twice. There's no doubt Trump will launch still more appeals, suing to stop access on some other ground. Because that—an endless attempt to gum up the process by using his money to gum up the legal system—is how Trump always works. But at this stage finding a judge willing to go along with Trump's request for another stay may be difficult. Not only have three Trump-appointed members of the Supreme Court spiked this ball back on two occasions, the efforts have also failed at the district and appeals levels. Unless Trump can think of some reason why New York taxes and the Manhattan DA need to fight this case out in Texas, it's likely those boxes will start arriving on Vance's desk Real Soon Now.

According to The Hill, Trump is none too happy that his slate of justices didn't have an understanding of the pro quo in the quid he delivered to them. On Monday, Trump issued a statement saying that the Supreme Court should have blocked Manhattan because, "it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo." Honestly, Cuomo probably has other things on his mind at this point, but seeing Trump lose this one might have given the governor a momentary feeling of warmth.

Proving that while he may have endless schemes to rob people blind, his vocabulary consists of just a handful of phrases, Trump described the investigation into his finances as "the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country." He then followed up by using yet more text taken by using scissors and tape, serial killer style, to every speech he's made since November. "I will fight on," said Trump, "just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!"

There's every reason to expect that Trump's taxes are composed entirely of crime. Trump is, after all, the sole owner of roughly 500 companies, many of which exist for the purpose of simply "lending" equipment or funds to other Trump companies. Many of them, like the multiple layers of corporate ownership around his planes, appear to suggest that Trump is taking tax breaks both for owning and leasing the same objects. That's not even getting into schemes like the one in which Trump duped investors into putting him in charge of an effort to buy a bankrupt casino, promptly bankrupted the investment group, bought it all back for pennies on the dollar, then declared bankruptcy. Again. Or when he bought a $28 million yacht, then billed it all to a failing casino. Before declaring bankruptcy.

Trump has used these companies to put layer on layer of corporate insulation between himself and consequences. He gets other people to back his projects, spends lavishly on the gold-plated opulence, then always seems to be on hand to pick up sole ownership when the overly costly project buckles under its own weight. He punishes investors for their faith in him, and lives in the ruins of their dreams. So … yeah, all this might seem worth investigating.

In particular, Vance is looking into the payments Trump made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to cover up their affairs and convince the two women to sign statements that would keep their stories from emerging in advance of the 2016 election. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in counts were Trump was clearly an unindicted co-conspirator. Also, Cohen's testimony repeatedly indicated that there were other issues worth investigating. Several other issues.

So, the Supreme Court allowing this to move forward does seem like the opening day of Justice Season. Only, before visions of Trump wearing clothing even more orange than his bronzer start dancing through anyone's head, there are a few things to remember.

Trump has already been "caught" over and over. See above where Trump was found to have swindled retired couples out of their last dimes, used money that was supposed to go to disabled vets to commission self-portraits, and was convicted of money laundering 106 times. Finding that Donald Trump has committed a crime is the legal equivalent of discovering that there is a "y" in the word "day."

It would be nice to think that Vance, or New York Attorney General Letitia James, were going to grab Trump by his ludicrous comb-over and drag him straight to a cell in some state prison that does not even have a putting green. But it's extremely unlikely. Because the laws really are set up so that Trump's 500 legal fictions provide a buffer between his actions and consequences. Should it turn out that Trump Airline's Moving and Storage Leasing Agency has stolen millions in taxpayer funds by claiming false deductions and purposefully misreporting values of everything from helicopters to helipad-topped skyscrapers, the likely outcome is that one of these fictional entities will pay a fine. Should Trump be charged in connection with the crimes committed by Cohen, expect the worst outcome to be a flood of fundraising emails. "Help me fight off my Democratic enemies in the greatest Political Witch Hunt Ever in the History of ..." Etc.

After all, it's not like he stole $9. He's a wealthy white guy who stole tens of millions, extorted women to hide his infidelities, and offered up the nation on a platter to win an election. That's so, so different.

Trump may have lost this round in the Supreme Court because the clear letter of the law made it difficult to ignore his efforts to cover up his crimes. Should it ever come to it, expect that same court to discover that the law protects Trump from the consequences.

As Texas Grid Failed, Energy Industry Saw Enormous Profit Surge

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

For millions of people who live in Texas, this week has seemed like hell. With the electrical grid collapsing, people were left to freeze to death in their living rooms while others watched their homes literally fall apart as frozen water pipes burst. But this is all simply a matter of perspective.

For electricity providers in Texas, this has been the best week ever. The same goes for natural gas companies. And coal companies. And drilling companies. And on down the line. The entire energy industry, including the owners of Texas wind farms, has seen a tremendous surge of profit. That surge was so great that on just two days this week, Monday and Tuesday, providers could easily have cleared more profit than they do in a full year of ordinary, full-scale production. Not providing adequate electricity to Texas is much more profitable than providing every Texan with the power they need. By design.

On Friday, as the electric grid begins to recover and people survey what's left after days of no power, no water, and a governor who was so busy going on Fox News he didn't have time to even distribute the stock of generators provided by FEMA, most of Texas is exhausted. But the energy industry is ecstatic. They're coming down from a sugar rush that has sent an injection of billions straight into their pockets, and all they had to do to collect it was be bad at their supposed jobs.

When Naomi Klein wrote The Shock Doctrine in 2007, she described a system of "disaster capitalism" in which neoconservative free markets exploited extraordinary situations. Using excuses ranging from hurricanes to government overthrows, systems were instituted on "Chicago school" economics, with a laissez-faire anything goes policy for the wealthy, and a strict insistence that the government do nothing to help the poor. The forces behind this movement are well aware that neither nations nor individuals in the midst of crisis are equipped to negotiate fair long-term solutions.

The whole point is disasters make people uniquely vulnerable, both economically and emotionally, to being manipulated by scam artists. That can be people hawking water for 10 times its normal price. That can be companies selling electricity for 27,000 percent of its usual rate. Those who impose neoconservative market systems are simply at the top of the scam artist food chain.

Such systems insist on "austerity" when it comes to social programs designed to lift people out of poverty or buffer them from the next disaster. That's because these buffers make people less vulnerable, and so less likely to agree to the conditions imposed by the disaster capitalists when the screws get turned again. These systems also insist that the other end—the end where billionaires play with options and financial instruments—has to be essentially unlimited. That makes every disaster an opportunity for a fat payday.

The Texas energy market, as managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) isn't just a market that's designed to protect investors and harm consumers in each instance of disaster; it's a market that's tailor-made to induce disasters.

The incentives of that market are intended to keep the difference between supply and demand in Texas razor thin. The way that pricing is conducted under ERCOT means that the price of electricity can fluctuate wildly in a very short period on very small changes in the available supply. Those "spikes" in prices are the primary means by which the system incentivizes expansion of the electricity supply. And it really does provide incentive. It provides incentive to generate more spikes.

This doesn't require that electricity providers be "evil." It only requires that they mirror the economist's ideal of a "rational actor" when confronted with a system where limiting supply generates increased profit. After all, when providing less power generates more money … why not?

Texas isn't alone. In 2000 and 2001, California's energy grid was brought to a point where supply and demand were very close when a drought limited electrical production from hydropower in the Northwest. Savvy private energy producers in California responded by determining that this was the perfect time to do "maintenance" on multiple plants at the same time. These outages then forced grid managers to purchase electricity at rapidly rising rates from the spot market.

Because the energy industry is highly intertwined, some of the companies speculating in electricity also had huge influence in the natural gas market. A couple of particularly clever companies determined that by simultaneously manipulating the price of natural gas they could, under California's formula, raise the maximum spot price for electricity even higher. One of those companies went by the name of Enron. The other was Reliant Energy. Reliant is now part of NRG Energy, which controls power to 2.9 million homes in multiple states, including Texas.

By what is surely a pure coincidence, California had previously asked for changes to its market rules that would have placed a hard cap on spot market prices. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission turned them down.

Texas suffered massive blackouts in 1989 after a cold snap raised demand far above supply. This happened again in 2011, leaving many Texas without power for days and leading to a federal investigation that suggested the system desperately needed to be winterized and prepared for future events. That didn't happen. And The Dallas Morning News can explain exactly why it didn't happen. Not only did electricity providers make more money in two days than they would have made in a year, there was a real trickle down effect. Just not to consumers.

This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices," [Comstock Resources chief financial officer Roland Burns] said. "Frankly, we were able to sell at super premium prices for a material amount of production."

That last sentence can be translated as "we made a killing while selling far less gas." Which is easy to do in a market where prices have gone up 30,000 percent in a week.

For the energy industry, this really has been hitting the jackpot, and celebrations are being held by speculators at all levels—as well as by drilling industry analysts, who expect the failures of the gas industry to be met with demands for more of the same source that just failed. They are confident not only that Texas Republicans like Gov. Greg Abbott will not be able to hold off making any significant changes to the market by blaming the problems on "green energy," but that the Fox News bullhorn will stir up funds for more gas exploration and fracking.

Still, consumers are enjoying a trickle down of a sort. (Though "enjoying" is far from the correct term.) As The Washington Post reports, as the power begins to come back on, it's only serving to illuminate the expanding scope of the water crisis in Texas.

With poor insulation in many homes and water lines that are often buried barely below the surface, the multiday cold snap means that many areas of Texas are seeing water problems both on a personal and municipal level. Over 13 million Texas are living with a boil-water order on Friday morning—an order that's particularly difficult to meet for the hundreds of thousands still without electricity. Houston residents have lined up in parks to get water handed out by city officials, and bottled water is even being provided to area hospitals, which are also facing non-functional taps.

One thing is clear: With more than 40,000 megawatts of electricity still on "forced outage," the fault is not wind turbines. Both wind and solar have performed from just under to well above projected levels of output throughout the crisis. Electricity production from wind is expected to exceed 11,000 megawatts on Friday evening as a new weather system brings additional wind to the area. Solar energy is expected to exceed 5,000 megawatts at midday. That's helping to bring Friday spot prices for electricity back to something close to normal in many areas, even though prices for short-term energy futures are still near the maximum allowed.


And the deliberate outages now appear to be over.


Amid Texas Storm, Mayor’s Brutal Right-Wing Rant Leaves Him Unemployed

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

When it came time to write a platform for the 2020 election, Republicans either could not be bothered, or could not think of anything beyond "whatever Trump says now." In any case, they took the extraordinary move of simply discarding their platform and moving forward with no declared plan at all. Which at least means they can't be accused of breaking promises, since they didn't make any.

But now one Republican official has spoken up to provide a document that seems tailor-made to fill that empty niche. It incorporates the core Republican themes of "rugged individualism" and the Reaganesque tradition of government distrust into such a pure form, that it's not hard to see them being stitched onto banners for the next assault on the Capitol.

"No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local governments responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it's your choice! … Only the strong will survive and the week will perish."

This message was delivered by the mayor of a Texas town suffering from electrical outages and frozen water pipes in the middle of a freezing Arctic blast. You can practically hear the stirring patriotic music.

This message was authored on Tuesday by Colorado City Mayor Tim Boyd. Actually, make that ex-Colorado City mayor, as according to KTXS, Boyd resigned from his position on Tuesday afternoon.

Boyd posted his stirring call to arms on Facebook Tuesday morning because he said he was "frustrated" that people would call their local city government about problems such as a lack of power or water. For those people, Boyd had a perfect answer.

"I'm sick and tired of people looking for a damn hand out! If you don't have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal with out and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family."

And Boyd had a completely Fox News-worthy reason that people were so "lazy" and just sitting around being cold and thirsty.

"This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts."

Yes, it seems that some of those in Colorado City labored under the misunderstanding that the town had a government and the reason they elected a mayor was to do something. Boyd was out to set them absolutely straight on that score. And when people didn't understand the pure free market hymn Boyd was singing for them in that first message, he came back with a second. In which he … resigned.

"Please understand if I had it to do over again I would have just kept my words to myself and if I did say them I would have used better wording and been more descriptive."

Actually, the first statement seemed plenty descriptive. Boyd also claims that his wife has been either "laid off" or "fired" following his statement "based off the association people gave to her and the business she worked for." That incoherent statement really could use some "better wording."

In any case, don't expect Boyd to stay down for long. He has all the makings of a GQP hero for the modern age.

Senate Acquits Trump Despite Bipartisan Support For Impeachment

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

After a confusing day, the United States Senate voted on Saturday afternoon 57 to 43 in favor of convicting Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial. Though this was, by far, the greatest bipartisan vote in favor of impeachment in the nation's history, it still was not sufficient to reach the necessary two-thirds of the Senate necessary for conviction.

Among those Republicans voting with Democrats were Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey.

With that vote, the court of impeachment is adjourned and Republicans have shrugged off their last flirtation with the idea of democracy.

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 3:59:25 PM EST · Mark SumnerSaturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 4:02:52 PM EST · Mark Sumner

Sen. Chuck Schumer: "This trial wasn't about choosing country over party, not even that. This trial was about choosing country over Donald Trump, and 43 Republican members chose Trump."

Saturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 4:05:41 PM EST · Mark SumnerSaturday, Feb 13, 2021 · 4:13:06 PM EST · Mark Sumner

Trump has released a gloating statement. I'm not going to quote any of it. Just know that he doesn't take a moment to condemn the violence on Jan. 6.

Trial Spotlights Moment When Trump Tried To Get Pence Killed

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Over the course of their presentation, House impeachment managers showed how Donald Trump groomed his supporters to be outraged, repeatedly encouraged violence, and finally directed them to carry out their assault on the Capitol building in order to interrupt the counting of electoral college votes. The day was full of shocking moments and previously unseen images. The number of moments when enraged insurgents intent on murder came within feet of members of Congress should have been sobering—if not terrifying—to everyone watching in the Senate.

One other thing that came up during the day was a repeated theme of praise for the way that Mike Pence did his job on Jan. 6. That may seem like a strange approach for a Democratic team to take in dealing with the impeachment of a Republican president. But pointing out how Pence stood up to Trump in saying he would certify the results of the count serves two purposes: First, it allows the House managers to showcase that a Republican can, in fact, oppose Trump, providing Pence as a role model for any Republican senators who might think of stepping out of Trump's fear-shadow.

But the other thing it does is point the finger straight at what might be the most chilling moment of January 6—one that showcases Trump's absolute malice and depravity.

The complete story of that moment was split across two presentations on Wednesday. First, as Rep. Stacey Plaskett reviewed the events of that afternoon, there was the footage and diagrams showing just how close the insurrectionists came to capturing Pence. Second, a presentation from Rep. Joaquin Castro showed how Trump's tweets about Pence came even as people were begging him to stop his supporters. When it's all put together, it looks like this.

2:10 PM

Lee recounts phone call involving Mike Pence.

As insurgents smash their way through the Capitol windows and doors, Donald Trump ignores the violence being seen on every network and tries to make a call to Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Instead, he dials Sen. Mike Lee. At the end of the day on Wednesday, Lee objected to this information and asked that a statement attributed to him be stricken from the record. However, these are the only statements made by Lee that were mentioned anywhere in the House presentation.

Conversation between Trump and Mike Lee.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Sen. Tuberville was questioned about the phone call on Wednesday afternoon and told reporters from Politico that he ended the phone call by saying this: "I said 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go.'"

2:15 PM

Pence is removed from the Senate chamber.

Thanks to Tuberville's statement, there's a definitive time stamp on the call. Because Pence was quickly removed from the Senate chamber and taken to another location as the Secret Service and Capitol Police worked to secure an exit route.

2:24 PM

This means that the moment he hung up with Tuberville, Trump knew both that his supporters had entered the Capitol, and that Mike Pence was in danger. Trump's next action may be his most incredibly depraved of the entire day. Because what he did next was to pull out his phone and enter a tweet that aimed his supporters straight at the fleeing Pence.

Trump's tweet about Pence.

At the Capitol, Trump's tweet was read in real time by the enraged mob, with one of Trump's supporters even blasting out the tweet over a bullhorn just seconds after it appeared. In response, the crowd takes up a chant of "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"

Insurgents read Trump

2:26 PM

Two minutes after Trump's tweet appears, officers take advantage of the distraction provided by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman to direct Pence and his family down a flight of stairs and out of the building.

Pence is led away, with insurgents just a few feet down a hallway.

No one can say that Donald Trump didn't take action during those hours following the invasion of the Capitol. Because, on learning that Mike Pence was in peril, Trump acted instantly and decisively … to aim the threat at Pence and his family. Trump went for what he saw as both a chance of revenge at Pence for his refusal to participate in an unconstitutional scheme to "send the votes back" to states, and Trump saw an opportunity to do what he had just tried to gain from Tuberville—a delay in counting the votes. After all, what better way to delay than to have Mike Pence hanging from a gallows on the Capitol lawn?

Gallows erected outside Capitol by Trump supporters.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Tuberville nailed down the timing of Trump's call. And thanks to Tuberville, we now know the full sequence of events. And thanks to that sequence we know this: Donald Trump acted quickly and deliberately in an attempt to harm or even kill Mike Pence.

Republicans Fear Embarrassment And Worse At Trump’s Senate Trial

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump has been impeached for his role in using lies and incendiary language, over a period of months, to subvert the 2020 election, obstruct the business of the nation, and "gravely endanger the security of the United States and its institutions." Those articles of impeachment have been forwarded to the Senate, along with supporting documents, to show that Donald J. Trump is uniquely responsible for the Jan. 6 assault on the United States Capitol, and that his behavior on that day "was not an isolated event."

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Trump Revives ’Stop The Steal’ Lies In His Impeachment Response

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

On Tuesday, Donald Trump's legal team made their official response to the article of impeachment delivered by House impeachment managers. Though it might easily have been misdirected since that response is actually written to the "Unites States Senate." This follows earlier filings by Trump's legal team to the "United States Districct Court," the "Northern Distrcoit of Georgia," and the "Eastern Distrct of Michigan."

But while the opening words of Trump's reply may generate a chuckle or an eye roll, it's really the last section of that response that's the most laughable. And the most infuriating. Because after providing three replies in which the argument focuses on the question of whether it is considered constitutional to impeach an executive once they're out of office, the last answer that Trump provides goes directly back to square one by claiming that he never did anything wrong in the first place and that: "Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president's statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies that they were false."

That's right. A month after he drove a mob into a murderous rage, Trump isn't just denying he incited their assault on the Capitol. He's denying he lied.

In the early hours of Nov. 4, as it was becoming clear to everyone that Joe Biden was going to collect far more than the 270 electoral votes necessary to secure victory, Trump stepped in front of the cameras to complain. In that appearance, Trump said: "We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election."

That's a lie. Had Trump constrained himself to no more than such generalized statements, he might still have generated a sense of righteous anger and disappointment among his supporters, but it's unlikely that would have created the kind rage that led to Jan. 6. However, Trump didn't hold himself to the just a generic claim of victory.

By Nov. 7, shortly after the Associated Press called the election for Biden, Trump was back on the air to make a statement that leveled the first of many specific charges. "The Biden campaign ... wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters." All of those charges would persist right up until Jan. 6, with Trump's team eventually assigning numbers to each category—8,000 dead voters, 14,000 out-of-state voters, 10,000 late ballots—without ever explaining where they obtained these values.

Over the course of the following months, Trump added more specific charges. He claimed that there were fraudulent drop boxes in Wisconsin. That votes of Arizona Republicans had been thrown out. That boxes full of votes had been smuggled into Philadelphia.

Trump was still making both his general claims and these very specific charges right up to the final "Stop the Steal" speech on the morning of Jan. 6. "... this year they rigged an election, they rigged it like they have never rigged an election before, and by the way, last night, they didn't do a bad job either, if you notice ... We will stop the steal! ... We won it by a landslide. This was no close election. ... There were over 205,000 more ballots counted in Pennsylvania. Now think of this, you had 205,000 more ballots than you had voters ... So in Pennsylvania, you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters, and it's — the number is actually much greater than that now ... In Wisconsin, corrupt Democrat-run cities deployed more than 500 illegal unmanned, unsecured drop boxes, which collected a minimum of 91,000 unlawful votes. ... They have these lockboxes. And you know, they pick them up and they disappear for two days. People would say where's that box? They'd disappeared. Nobody even knew where the hell it was. In addition, more than 170,000 absentee votes were counted in Wisconsin without a valid absentee ballot application. So they had a vote, but they had no application and that's illegal in Wisconsin. Meaning, those votes were blatantly done in opposition to state law and they came 100 percent from Democrat areas such as Milwaukee and Madison. 100 percent."

Would a "reasonable jurist" know these statements were lies? Of course they would. That's easy to see since every single time these arguments went before a judge they were uniformly rejected. Not all of the Trump team's 62 lawsuits came down to statements of fact. Some were tossed with statements that explicitly called out the lack of any real evidence behind Trump's claims.

"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption. That has not happened." — U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann

There were months in which Trump's team might have fleshed out their claims. Months in which they might have explained the source of all those numbers. They didn't do that. Instead they added claims about a dead Venezuelan dictator and servers hidden in Germany. Dominion Voting Systems is suing Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion for running a "viral disinformation campaign." Trump repeated all those same allegations in his rallies, right up to the end.

When Trump's attorneys claim that a "rational jurist" could not know that Trump's claims are false, what they actually mean is an ignorant jurist. Someone who had been subjected to all these false claims and allowed to view none of the actual information. Like a Fox News viewer. Because a rational, informed juror would definitely be able to tell that Trump's statements were not just lies, but lies created expressly for the purpose of generating confusion over facts that are otherwise very cut and dry.

But what be most surprising is that Trump isn't just saying that someone making these statements might have been believed before Jan. 6, he's still refusing to admit that they are false. This explicit inclusion in his reply makes everything Trump has said before and after Jan. 6 fair game. House impeachment managers should be much happier about that than Trump's legal team.

Trump Defense Secretary Disarmed D.C. National Guard Before Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

In testimony before the House this week, Capitol Police and D.C. National Guard officials acknowledged that by Jan. 4 they understood that "… the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target."

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Biden Secures 200 Million More Vaccine Doses -- But Says Masking Still Vital

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

On the seventh day of his administration, Joe Biden stepped out to announce that he has purchased another 100 million doses of vaccine each from both Pfizer and Moderna. These doses won't arrive until summer, but added to the vaccine already purchased—and potential doses coming soon from Johnson & Johnson or others—there should be enough vaccine to get every American over 16 vaccinated. And then some.

As Biden said in his brief appearance, "I hope by the end of the summer we have too much vaccine left over. We have too much supplies left over. That's not my worry."

But Biden was also blunt that the nation is facing enormous challenges right now. Cases of COVID-19 are still very high. Both vaccines and supplies are in short supply. New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are spreading rapidly, threatening to bring another spike of cases and strain every point of the nation's ability to fight the pandemic. Biden admitted that getting the vaccine was just one step, but he committed to making sure that the rest of the challenge was met.

Getting everyone vaccinated by summer or early fall means not just coming up with more doses, but increasing the rate of vaccination by two to three times. Biden pledged to meet that challenge. As first steps, he notified states that starting next week the number of doses going out will increase from about 8.5 million to 10 million a week. He also pledged to be clear to states about quantities they will be receiving so that each state can better plan how to efficiently distribute vaccine.

Biden mentioned several times his intuition to use the Defense Production Act, not just to secure more vaccine, but to make sure there are adequate supplies. That includes the vials and syringes needed for vaccination, personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare workers, and swabs and reagents needed for testing.

Biden also continued to emphasize that in the near term, masks are a more valuable tool than vaccines. He repeated projections that having a high rate of mask-wearing just between now and April can save over 50,000 lives, and he took a swipe at Republicans who sneered at the idea of Biden's 100-day mask order, saying that real patriots wear a mask to protect their fellow citizens.

On travel restrictions, Biden made it clear that he wants universal testing of all travelers coming into the United States before they've left their origins, and isolation of travelers on arrival. This level of restriction is perhaps the only step that would work considering that numerous variants are now being carried around the world and bans against specific nations or regions have limited utility.

Overall, the theme of the appearance continues Biden's absolute commitment to address the COVID-19 crisis head on, and deliver for America the kind of effort that should have been there … over 400,000 lives ago.

Trump Campaign Secretly Funded Jan. 6 Rally That Led To Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

At last count, Donald Trump is the 100 percent owner of over 500 companies. Most of these companies exist just to move money between accounts, minimizing Trump's taxes and maximizing the confusion for anyone trying to make any sense out of his finances. It now appears that Trump took this expertise to his campaign, where a number of campaign aides helped to shuffle dark money from shell companies right into the supposedly independent organizations that organized events leading up to the Jan. 6 insurgency.

Though the permit for the "Stop the Steal" rally was supposedly given to the group Women for America First, and was supposed to be separate from Trump's campaign, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 17 that an attachment to that rally permit listed a number of people as staff members of that organization who had — just weeks before — been paid directly by the Trump 2020 campaign.

Now OpenSecrets.org has provided a more detailed look at the web of dark money and shell companies that Trump used to funnel money into his "wild" event while pretending his campaign wasn't behind it.

For anyone tuning in that awful Wednesday morning, it was hard to differentiate the Stop the Steal rally from any of the other rallies that had marked Trump's campaign from the beginning. Not only was Trump coming to speak at the close of events, everything from the signs to the music (almost all of it played over the objection of the artists) seemed like another stop on a campaign that simply failed to halt when the election was over.

But of course, protesting the counting of electoral votes over two months after the election is not the kind of event that is generally sanctioned for a campaign operating under FEC regulations. So they outsourced it. Sort of.

Trump's campaign paid out over $2.7 million to the list of individuals and firms that were officially on the hook for the Jan. 6 rally. That includes at least half a dozen people who had previously collected six-figure incomes from the Trump campaign. At the top of that list: Megan Powers. Powers was listed as one of two operations managers for Women for America First in the permit for the Jan. 6 event. However, she was also director of operations for the Trump 2020 campaign, a role that netted her $290,000 in pay.

As OpenSecrets makes clear, even the money that flowed to people who miraculously left the Trump campaign just in time to host the rally doesn't represent the full extent of the campaign's involvement. Undisclosed to the FEC were a set of transactions where money was moved through shell companies, making it nearly impossible to trace all the funds that flowed out of campaign coffers, or where that money ended up.

As just one example, Justin Caporale was the Trump's campaign's advance director up until November 2020. Then he partnered with another former member of Trump's campaign staff to create a firm called Event Strategies Inc. That firm was then paid over $1.7 million that came either directly from Trump's campaign or from post-election fundraising. That wasn't all: The dark money group America First Policies kicked another $2.1 million to both Event Strategies and the "nonprofit" Women for America First.

Even that is just a fraction of the different organizations, shell companies, and PACs created to allow the Trump campaign to operate indirectly, and to funnel campaign funds to activities that aren't allowed under FEC regulations.

It's not the first time someone has attempted to make an end run around these regulations. In 2012, Ron Paul's campaign shuffled money through a vendor, and then a subvendor, in order to hide bribes. They were caught and given serious sentences as a signal from the FEC that this kind of action would not be tolerated.

Trump pardoned everyone involved in December.

In just the months following the election, Trump raised over $500 million from individuals who were asked to help pay for his legal battle in the attempt to overturn the election. It's clear that Trump spent about $3 million in recount efforts, very little on actual legal issues, and several million more providing behind-the-scenes funding for events like the Jan. 6 insurgency. It's not clear where the rest of that money has gone.

First 2022 Ads Target Seditionist Senators

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Having made it past November, and even past the Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia, it may seem like the airwaves and signboards near you would finally be free of political ads. However … that's not quite true. While the idea that ads are already showing up for the 2022 election cycle might even be enough to generate howls, there's a reason that these ads should be welcomed. Because these ads are all about holding Republicans accountable for what they've done over the last four years.

That starts with ads that are going on the air in Wisconsin to detail the explicit connection between Sen. Ron Johnson and the violent attempt to overthrow the government. Voters to the south might not be catching those ads, but they could still run across a Josh Hawley billboard from MeidasTouch. It's all just part of the move to clear the halls of Congress … of the people who promoted a violent attack on the halls of Congress.

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Republicans Suspected Of Conspiring In Capitol Attack

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's obvious that many Republicans—including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in the Senate, and dozens in the House, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy—actively inflamed Donald Trump's white supremacist mob and encouraged their deadly assault on the Capitol. However, it now seems that some Republicans in Congress may have done more than knowingly fan the flames. In the days since the rotunda was cleared of debris and the halls were cleaned of the literal human excrement smeared there by Trump's biggest fans, information has appeared that indicates some Republicans may have actively been involved in planning or carrying out the assault.

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) conducted a Facebook live session for her constituents during which explained her support resulting in calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. During that webcast, Sherrill made an astounding accusation. She claimed to have witnessed Republican members of Congress leading Trump supporters on, not a tour, but a "reconnaissance" of the Capitol. "We can't have a democracy," said Sherrill, "if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the election results."

As reported by USA Today's northerjersey.com, Sherrill's accusation was as astounding as it was direct.

"Not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn't have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5—a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress."

Sherrill has not so far detailed what she means by this reconnaissance, or given names of Republicans who were involved. However, it's become increasingly clear in the days since the insurrection that the situation at the Capitol was much more dire than was originally reported.

The accusations of involvement by Republican members of Congress aren't just coming from Democrats, they're coming from those who were involved in the assault.

As The Washington Post reports, Ali Alexander, the right-wing activist who formed the "Stop the Steal" movement, did so with the help of three Republican members of Congress: Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar. "We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting," said Alexander. Biggs' staff has denied any contact with Alexander—but the involvement of all three Republicans is certainly worthy of investigation.

Completely disowning Alexander's claims could be difficult. He and Gosar appeared together at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Phoenix on December 19. At that same rally, Alexander played a recorded message from Biggs, who he described as a "friend." In both the live and recorded messages, Gosar and Biggs singled out January 6 for action.

Gosar would go on to promote other "Stop the Steal" events more than a dozen times, as well as pumping out tweets and emails promoting the January 6 gathering in D.C. Typical of Gosar's statements was an op-ed on the site Revolver, Gosar called simply counting the legal electoral vote a "Third World coup d'etat." According to Gosar, Biden's win involved "statistically impossible" spikes in the voting and "We will not tolerate this." Far from distancing himself from Alexander's group, Gosar claimed ownership. "As many of you know, I helped organize the very first 'Stop the Steal' rally," he wrote. "… Patriotic warriors joined together to gather evidence and tell the Left we will not accept a coup and a usurper in the White House."

All three Republicans continued to be involved in "Stop the Steal." As The New York Times reports, In the hours immediately before the assault on the Capitol, Brooks addressed the "Stop the Steal" rally in D.C. "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," said Brooks. "Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?"

Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks are far from the only Republicans connected to Alexander's group, or the only ones who both inflamed Trump supporters through lies about the election and demands to attend the January 6 event.

On December 30, Alexander tweeted what would happen if Congress voted to approve the count of the Electoral College vote. "If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building. 1776 is always an option." The use of "1776" appeared in a number of statements from hard-line Trump representatives right up to the insurrection. Both Q-supporting Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert directly called the insurrection an "1776 moment."

On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared some of her Republican colleagues would not only open the doors to rioters, but direct them straight to her. "I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die," she said. "I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive." According to Ocasio-Cortez, she can't go into specifics because of security concerns. But it's clear there were very good reasons to be concerned. And it's clear that multiple Republicans in both the House and Senate did more than enough to justify removing them from the halls of Congress. In fact, several of them may well deserve a new office—in very small room surrounded by bars.

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 · 9:27:10 AM EST · Mark Sumner

GOP Rep. Gohmert Openly Calls For Violence In The Streets After Losing In Court

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

At this point, Republicans might as well just open fire on Fort Sumter and be done with it. That's the only way they could show more evidence of their "patriotism" and love for the Constitution. The only question is: Who's going to be first? The whole right-of-center portion of the American political spectrum has fallen into a system where the selective pressure is all about being the most outrageous, the most extreme, the most willing to trample all the meaning of the American system into the mud while waving the symbols of that system overhead. It's not a race to the bottom, because there is no bottom. But there is a point of no return, and Republicans have gone way, way past that point.

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Trump Calling Supporters To Capitol For ‘Wild Time’ When Electoral Vote Is Ratified

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Jan. 6, Mike Pence is scheduled to sit down in front of the Senate in his role as president of that body. Pence will open up the box of votes. Then Joe Biden officially wins. It's an absolutely ceremonial role, defined under the Twelfth Amendment in these terms:

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;-The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President.

Despite the lawsuit filed by … sigh … Louie Gohmert, there is absolutely nothing in this amendment to suggest that Pence has a choice about opening that box, or any agency in determining what states get counted. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 only serves to underline this fact. Meanwhile, outside the doors of the Senate, Donald Trump has declared that the Wild Rumpus must begin! And really, there is no doubt that he is king of the monsters. What's concerning is that Trump has spent weeks urging his supporters to come to Washington on that date for a protest that he insists will be "wild" and is definitely yet another swing at defeating democracy.

It's recently become clear that some people who have had COVID-19 emerge from the disease with severe psychosis. But it's hard to blame Trump's actions on the virus. He was always this way.

As Rachel Maddow notes at MSNBC, Trump hasn't made it clear exactly what he expects when he gathers together every white supremacist Proud Boy, every Hawaiian shirt wearing Boogalooer, and every other variety of neo-Nazi in one place. But Washington insiders are worried that Trump is leaning into the suggestion by disgraced former general Michael Flynn that he dust off the Insurrection Act, declare a national emergency, and order up a revote until the states he doesn't like get it right.

As CNN reported back on Dec. 20, even Trump's own staff is worried that he's taking Flynn's nonsensical suggestion too seriously. And as the last of the equally ridiculous lawsuits and challenges in state and federal courts fizzle out, getting Pence to simply not count the votes seems like the only move left in the Subverting Democracy Handbook. After all, nothing says peaceful transition like an outgoing executive encouraging armed insurrectionists to mass around the capitol for a "wild" time.

The "March for Trump" website (deliberately not linked) is calling for a cross-country bus trip that touches such sacred spots as the Alamo and Trump's wall. They'll also be driving across Georgia. But even though they have their bus route planned out and press conferences scheduled along the way, the main event in Washington, D.C. remains to be described. The best the site can give is "details coming soon." That may be in part because the group behind the protest still doesn't have an approved permit. The group "Women for America First" had originally scheduled their members to interfere with Biden's inauguration before amending their request based on Trump's out-of-the-blue tweet about the wild protest on Jan. 6.

It's unclear just how many people will show up for Trump's latest gig. An attempt to gather the faithful on Nov. 14 brought only about 10,000 people to town—making Kayleigh McEnany an even bigger liar than Sean Spicer. It's quite possible that the only thing wild about this event is how wildly McEnany has to lie to make it seem as if there are still people who care enough to come when Trump calls. On the other hand, if Pence is only looking for an excuse, a single busload of Trump supporters will probably serve as well as thousands.

With no information about what Trump has planned for Jan. 6, it's hard to see where on the scale of "Hamberders for all!" to "Burn it down! Burn it all down!" this event can be expected to fall. All that can be said for sure is that Trump intends this event to threaten the completion of the election process, and that it's not too late for those attending to work on their costumes