Our Home-Grown Fascism

That was odd. The Browns beat the Steelers – no one expected that – but no one expected the coronavirus pandemic would be about to force the collapse of the nation’s healthcare system and force a new deep recession – the last jobs report was awful – but it was one of those weekends. And the government might fall:

Federal and local authorities across the country pressed their hunt this weekend for the members of the angry mob that stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday, as Washington’s mayor issued an urgent appeal to start preparing immediately for more potential violence before, during and after the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Following one of the most stunning security lapses in the city’s history, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser sent a firmly worded letter on Saturday to the Department of Homeland Security, asking officials to move up to Monday the implementation of heightened security measures that are otherwise set to begin on Jan. 19, just one day before Mr. Biden’s swearing-in.

Those people will be back. They couldn’t stop Congress from recording the certified Electoral College votes of all fifty states – Biden had won – but if enough of these people showed up to storm the inauguration then they could stop the inauguration and thus Biden wouldn’t be inaugurated and Trump would be president kind of by default. That seems to be the plan. The idea was to stop these people, to round them up and lock them up, and to lock down the Capitol and also shut down the president:

The Capitol complex, typically a hive of activity, remained cut off from its surroundings Sunday night by troop deployments and an imposing scrim of seven-foot-tall, unscalable fencing. Still in shock from the worst breach of the building in more than two centuries, lawmakers were expected to turn their attention this week to a second slate of impeachment charges against President Trump, who has said little about the rampage he helped incite – in part because social media companies, like Twitter and Facebook, have either banned him or severely limited his use of their platforms.

But that impeachment stuff will take time. The immediate problem was this:

Security experts warned this weekend that some far-right extremist groups have now started to focus attention on Inauguration Day and are already discussing an assault similar to the one on the Capitol, which led to the sacking of congressional offices and the deaths of at least five people, including a Capitol Police officer.

As of Sunday, nearly 400 people had joined a private group online dedicated to what is being billed as the “Million Militia March,” an event scheduled to take place in Washington on Jan. 20. On Parler, a social media site popular on the far right that is in danger of being taken offline because of rampant talk of violence, commenters were debating what tools they should bring to the march, mentioning everything from baseball bats to body armor to assault rifles.

“We took the building once,” one person posted. “We can take it again.”

And maybe this time it’s time to take them seriously:

While most of the chatter online appears to be directed toward Inauguration Day, some on the right have argued that pro-Trump activists should instead gather once again on Capitol Hill and hold other rallies in cities outside Washington on Jan. 17. Over the weekend, fliers began to circulate on Parler and in private groups on the chatting services WhatsApp and Signal, calling for an “Armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols” at noon that day.

“I’d like to come to this, but want to know, does our president want us there?” asked one person on the social media site Gab. “Awaiting instructions.”

Trump has been banned from Twitter. How will he send his cryptic instructions this time? There are national events now:

Even as the throng of hundreds – if not thousands – breached gates, smashed windows and stormed into the Capitol last week, there were also tense standoffs at statehouses in Kansas, Colorado, Oregon and Georgia. On Saturday, that trend seemed to continue as Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said he was told of a “disturbing report of a death threat” received on Friday by the Iowa Democratic Party…

On Monday, the Michigan Capitol Commission is scheduled to meet to consider banning guns from the building. In April, in a kind of dress rehearsal for the chaos in Washington, a group of gun-toting protesters decrying coronavirus lockdowns rushed the State Capitol in Lansing, not long after Mr. Trump tweeted, “Liberate Michigan.”

Those guys said they were going to kidnap the governor there, put her on trial, their “citizens” trial, and then execute her for treason – for the lockdowns. That seemed to be the plan of some in Washington too – it would be Nancy Pelosi for them of course – on general principle. It was time stop them:

Armed with federal warrants, law enforcement officers spent much of the weekend cracking down on people who had stormed the National Capitol, making a series of arrests in states from Iowa to Florida, and filing new charges against some of the more than 80 people who were taken into custody last week by local officers in Washington. Among those charged so far have been a man seen hauling off House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern; the leader of the Hawaii chapter of the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys; and a proponent of the QAnon conspiracy theory known for showing up at pro-Trump rallies in a headdress with horns and a spear.

On Saturday, federal prosecutors filed a new complaint against Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., a Georgia man who was accused of threatening Ms. Pelosi by saying in a text message that he was going to put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.” Federal agents said that Mr. Meredith had been staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer that included a Glock handgun, a Tavor X95 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

He was serious, and he had friends:

As charges continued to be filed, more participants in the attack were identified around the country, among them business executives and local school board officials. Several police departments – and the New York Fire Department – have said they are investigating members who may have taken part in the assault.

And there was this:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a supporter of the QAnon movement, is facing backlash after she was accused of live-tweeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) location during the attack on Capitol Hill last week.

Boebert shared the tweet soon after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol with deadly results.

“The Speaker has been removed from the chambers,” Boebert wrote…

Twitter users responded by calling for the freshman representative to be jailed and removed from Congress.

She did tell the people with guns where to find Pelosi, and she does like guns:

Washington, D.C.’s police chief has warned Republican freshman Congressmember Lauren Boebert against violating the district’s strict gun control laws, after she posted a video to social media vowing that she would bring her Glock pistol to Congress – “Even though I now work in one of the most liberal cities in America, I refuse to give up my rights, especially my Second Amendment rights.”

Under federal law, congressmembers are allowed to have guns on Capitol grounds if they are unloaded and securely wrapped. They are barred from carrying a gun on the House floor. Congressmember Boebert owns a restaurant known as Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, Colorado, where servers openly carry firearms.

She wants to do her job with a loaded pistol strapped to her side, so no one will mess with her. Expect litigation. But this is a new world. The Associated Press opens its review of what just happened with this:

Under battle flags bearing Donald Trump’s name, the Capitol’s attackers pinned a bloodied police officer in a doorway, his twisted face and screams captured on video. They mortally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and body-slammed a third over a railing into the crowd.

“Hang Mike Pence!” the insurrectionists chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: “Where are they?” Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity.

Yes, this was a bit worse than anyone thought:

Only days later is the extent of the danger from one of the darkest episodes in American democracy coming into focus. The sinister nature of the assault has become evident, betraying the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctums of Congress and run down its leaders – Trump’s vice president and the Democratic House speaker among them.

This was not just a collection of Trump supporters with MAGA bling caught up in a wave.

It was more than that:

That revelation came in real time to Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who briefly took over proceedings in the House chamber as the mob closed in Wednesday and the speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was spirited to safer quarters moments before everything went haywire.

“I saw this crowd of people banging on that glass screaming,” he told The Associated Press on Sunday. “Looking at their faces, it occurred to me, these aren’t protesters. These are people who want to do harm.”

“What I saw in front of me,” he said, “was home-grown fascism that was out of control.”

Pelosi said Sunday “the evidence is that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.” She did not elaborate on that point in a “60 Minutes” interview on CBS.

She didn’t have to elaborate. Everyone saw and heard the guidance and direction:

The mob got explicit marching orders from Trump and still more encouragement from the president’s men.

“Fight like hell,” Trump exhorted his partisans at the staging rally. “Let’s have trial by combat,” implored his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to throw out election results in trial by courtroom failed. It’s time to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

Criminals pardoned by Trump, among them Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, came forward at rallies on the eve of the attack to tell the crowds they were fighting a battle between good and evil and they were on the side of good. On Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri gave a clenched-fist salute to the hordes outside the Capitol as he pulled up to press his challenge of the election results.

The crowd was pumped.

And Mitch was overwhelmed:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was at the helm for the final minutes of decorum in partnership with Pence, who was serving his ceremonial role presiding over the process.

Both men had backed Trump’s agenda and excused or ignored his provocations for four years, but now had no mechanism or will to subvert the election won by Biden. That placed them high among the insurrectionists’ targets, no different in the minds of the mob than the “socialists.”

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell told his chamber, not long before things spiraled out of control…

That was the death spiral. Home-grown fascism was on the way. But wait! Someone knows a thing or two about that:

In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday that quickly drew millions of views, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former California governor, compared the riot at the Capitol last week to Kristallnacht, a rampage in Germany in 1938 in which Nazi-inspired mobs burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish-owned shops.

Seated at a desk and flanked by the American and Californian flags, Mr. Schwarzenegger wove his experiences growing up in Austria after World War II to what he was witnessing in the United States.

“Being from Europe, I’ve seen firsthand how things can spin out of control,” he said, adding that while others may fear that something similar could happen in the United States, he did not think it would.

“I do believe that we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism,” he warned.

And then he got specific:

Mr. Schwarzenegger recalled growing up surrounded by men who drank away their “guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.” His father, like others in the neighborhood, would return home drunk once or twice a week, and “he would scream and hit us and scare my mother,” he said.

The painful memory, he said, was one he had not shared so publicly before, but he chose to do so to underscore the “emotional pain” that these men experienced from what they saw or did.

“My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies,” he said. “And I know where such lies lead.”

So, connect the dots:

Mr. Schwarzenegger linked the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol to Kristallnacht, describing the attacks against Jews more than 80 years ago as carried out by “the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.”

Within hours, the 7-minute video drew nearly 10 million views on Twitter.

But this was about more than the Proud Boys:

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has long been critical of President Trump, described him in the video as a “failed leader” and the “the worst president ever.” Noting the book written by former President John F. Kennedy called “Profiles in Courage,” Mr. Schwarzenegger added that a number of Republicans would never see their names in such a book because of what he called “their own spinelessness.”

“We need to hold accountable the people who brought us to this unforgivable point,” he said.

Some of that was already underway:

More than 5,000 law school alumni and students have signed a petition calling for the disbarment of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) over what it says were their “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.”

Hawley and Cruz led efforts in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to stop the counting of electoral votes certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Trump in the November election.

Critics are accusing the senators of using rhetoric that helped inflame a pro-Trump mob that engaged in acts of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as the vote-counting was underway. Both have rejected the accusations.

But alumni and students of the law schools that the men attended – Cruz is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Hawley of Yale Law School – and others have signed a petition over the past two days urging the Texas, Missouri and Washington bars to “immediately begin disbarment proceedings” against the two senators.

That would neuter these two home-grown fascists:

Signatories include more than 1,000 members of the Washington D.C., Missouri, and Texas bars, the petition’s organizers said. Among those who signed are former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Harvard Law professors Laurence Tribe and Michael Klarman, as well as retired appeals court judge H. Lee Sarokin and former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter.

Who knew that Laurence Tribe and all the rest were Antifa? They’re anti-fascist!

But that’s easy. Allan Smith profiles one of these guys:

One of his most important early backers now says supporting him “was the worst mistake I ever made in my life,” and a top donor called for him to be censured by the Senate.

That’s just some of the condemnation that’s come Sen. Josh Hawley’s way since the Missouri Republican became the first senator to announce he would object to the counting of Electoral College votes and then moved forward with his plan even after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters had stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

The largest newspapers in his home state called on him to resign. His publisher canceled its contract with him for an upcoming book. He’s been pilloried by both Democrats and Republicans for leading the futile objection effort.

And a viral photo of Hawley entering the Capitol before the riot, showing the senator in a slim-fitting suit, hair perfectly coiffed and raising his fist toward the gathered crowd, has already become a lasting image of a day that won’t soon be forgotten.

“It was like a Dukakis-on-the-tank moment,” one Republican strategist said in a reference to a famous attack ad on the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, “in that he just looked phony and out of place and like a doofus.”

Read the rest of the profile for the details, and then note the weekend assessments:

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are “complicit in the big lie” and “have a lot of soul searching to do” over their attempts to overturn the presidential election in favour of Donald Trump, a Republican Senate colleague said on Sunday, amid growing calls for the two men to resign or be censured.

Republican objections to electoral college results failed. But Cruz and Hawley were prominent among 147 representatives and senators who backed the late-night effort on Wednesday, even after a mob incited by the president attacked the US Capitol. Five people including a police officer died amid the chaos, in which lawmakers were apparently the target of planned kidnappings…

Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania became the second Republican senator to say the president had committed impeachable offences and should “resign and go away as soon as possible”.

Toomey did not call for Cruz and Hawley to quit, though he said they were “going to have a lot of soul searching to do and the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen.

“They compounded that with this notion that somehow this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s, that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time.”

And that was that:

Democrats piled on. On Saturday, Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio, called for Cruz and Hawley’s “immediate resignations and said they had “betrayed their oaths of office and abetted a violent insurrection on our democracy”.

“If they do not resign,” he added, “the Senate must expel them.”

Patty Murray of Washington, Chris Coons of Delaware and Tina Smith of Minnesota were among other Democrats to call for Cruz and Hawley to go.

On Sunday Joe Manchin of West Virginia told CNN: “Whether they should resign or not, I don’t know, but how can they live with themselves knowing that people have died because of their words and actions?”

They can, somehow, but Robert Reich sees this:

Call me old-fashioned, but when the president of the United States encourages armed insurgents to breach the Capitol and threaten the physical safety of Congress, in order to remain in power, I call it an attempted coup…

That the attempted coup failed shouldn’t blind us to its significance or the stain it has left on America. Nor to the importance of holding those responsible fully accountable.

Trump’s culpability is beyond dispute. “There’s no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” said Elizabeth Cheney, the No 3 House Republican.

Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office – immediately.

But don’t forget the collaborators:

Those who attacked the Capitol should also be prosecuted. They have no first amendment right to try to overthrow the US government.

Trump’s accomplices on Capitol Hill, most notably the Texas senator Ted Cruz and Missouri senator Josh Hawley, should be forced to resign.

Knowing Trump’s allegations of voting fraud were false, Cruz and Hawley led the move to exclude Biden electors – even after the storming of the Capitol – thereby lending Trump’s claims credibility.

The United States constitution says “no Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress” who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the constitution, “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”.

That’s them. But now what? The weekend ended with what Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman describe here:

The House moved on two fronts on Sunday to try to force President Trump from office, escalating pressure on the vice president to strip him of power and committing to quickly begin impeachment proceedings against him for inciting a mob that violently attacked the seat of American government.

In a letter to colleagues, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the House would move forward on Monday with a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, and wrest the powers of the presidency. She called on Mr. Pence to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution.

Next, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor.

She’s jamming Pence. She’s jamming the Republicans. And the president is useless:

At the White House, Mr. Trump remained out of sight for a fourth straight day and made no public comment on either the assault on the Capitol or the brewing impeachment threat. The White House announced instead that he would travel on Tuesday to Alamo, Texas, to promote his border wall as part of a series of activities highlighting what he sees as the achievements of the last four years.

Otherwise, the basic work of the final days of a presidential term had essentially been halted. A slew of pardons that were under discussion were put on hold after the riot, according to people informed about the deliberations. And around the White House, the president’s advisers hoped he would let go of giving himself a pardon, saying it would look terrible given what had taken place.

And they really hoped he wouldn’t go off-script down at the border with a screaming rant about how Mike Pence betrayed him and how it’s time to slit some throats so he can stay president maybe forever. But why? He hates the job:

Other than a video message he posted on Thursday night, Mr. Trump has said nothing about the attack since its conclusion and taken no responsibility for it, nor has he said anything publicly about the U.S. Capitol Police officer killed by the mob. Only after much criticism did he order flags lowered to half-staff at the White House and other federal facilities on Sunday in honor of the officer and another who Capitol Police said had died off duty days after responding to the riot at the Capitol.

That’s basic stuff, and this may be the end:

In past furors, any anger within his own party tended to fade with passing days, but this time, the disenchantment among many Republicans appeared to be hardening, particularly with new videos emerging, including one showing the mob dragging a police officer down the steps outside the Capitol and beating him.

“The more time, images, and stories removed from Wednesday the worse it gets,” Josh Holmes, a longtime adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, wrote on Twitter. “If you’re not in a white-hot rage over what happened by now, you’re not paying attention.”

People are paying attention. Home-grown fascism may finally enrage enough of them this time.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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