Where were we? Ah yes, Trump Patriots, or his Republican-approved neofascist militias – take your choice – were about to storm the Capitol again. But this time it was to demand the release of all who had been arrested the first time, political prisoners arrested for quite peacefully protesting, arrested on that day back in January for their views. There had been no violence. Nothing much happened on the day back in January. All that they had demanded was that Congress toss out the certified vote of any state that had not voted for Trump and declare that Trump had actually won – all people had to do was recheck what had been checked and certified many times before. Something had gone wrong. All that Vice President Pence, presiding over the session, had to do was say the process had to stop until that recheck of the vote in those “Biden” states was done, until everyone understood that he and Donald Trump had actually won reelection.
Well, perhaps things had gotten a little bit out of hand. But that still had been a political protest and thus a legitimate and protected exercise of free speech. Some folks just got a little too excited that day. But these were all political prisoners. Free them! Or else!
Or else what? No one knew. This time no one was going to storm the Capitol and wipe out the whole of Congress and declare Donald Trump president for life with all the powers of Congress devolving to him alone. Congress wasn’t there. Congress was in recess. And who had the authority to dismiss all charges against all who had been arrested back in January? Who was supposed to do what, specifically? No one really knew. But it really didn’t matter, because hardly anyone showed up:
The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.
Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds – where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago – were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.
No mainstream Republican showed up to give a stirring speech. Trump didn’t show up. Not even the QAnon side of the party showed up. And not one talk-radio host showed up. Rudy Giuliani didn’t show up. There was no one there to scream bloody murder, or anything else. No one was told to march on the Capitol kick ass and take names and take back their country. Everyone knew better:
Police made just four arrests throughout the day, seizing two weapons. The relative peace and quiet was a welcome turn for the U.S. Capitol Police, whose leaders endured blistering criticism in the months after Jan. 6 for inadequate security.
In recent weeks the agency had repeatedly warned that it would have a large force in the field, aided by police departments from across the region and the National Guard. The entire D.C. police force was activated Friday and Saturday. The massive law enforcement presence Saturday was unmistakable, with many in full riot gear and others on horseback.
That did the trick:
Influential figures on the far right actually discouraged their followers from showing up Saturday, asserting the event was a trap. Baseless rumors ricocheted through social media alleging that the federal government was attempting to lure demonstrators to Washington to arrest them. The Proud Boys, a group with a history of violence that includes participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection, discouraged their members from attending.
Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.
The Proud Boys’ paranoia, along with the paranoia of the Oath Keepers and all the other Trump militias, keep them away, and made things small, even nationally:
Simultaneous demonstrations elsewhere in the country were also sparsely attended. In Seattle, a group of about 15 stood in the rain, chanting “USA.” Some 20 people gathered across the street from the federal courthouse in Charlotte, where they were observed by joggers and heckled by a man who shouted out the window of his car as he drove by: “They’re all insurrectionists! Get over it! They deserve to be in jail!”
Among those at the rally was Eugene Sibick, a 63-year-old from Buffalo whose son is among the more prominent criminal defendants in the Jan. 6 riot. Thomas Sibick, also of New York, allegedly ripped the badge and stole the radio from D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten and Tasered by pro-Trump rioters while attempting to defend the Capitol. Sibick later buried Fanone’s badge in his backyard, prosecutors said. He was arrested in March on various charges stemming from the incident and is now awaiting trial at the D.C. jail.
Eugene Sibick said his son’s ongoing detention was “a disgrace to this country.” He said he speaks to Thomas on the phone almost every day and is distressed by his son’s description of the food given to him, such as bologna and slices of bread with tartar sauce, but no fish.
No fish? That happens when, on the basis of clear evidence, you’ve been charged with beating the crap out of a police officer, and then you gloat about it. Be thankful for the tartar sauce. But it’s all good:
Beverly Foley – a Texas coordinator for Look Ahead America, the organization that planned Saturday’s event at Union Plaza, near the Capitol Reflecting Pool – said the demonstration was a success by dint of the overwhelming media presence, even if few protesters actually showed up. Many around the country, she predicted, would now take greater interest in the rights of those jailed because of their roles in the riot.
Yes, many around the country will now want these people locked up for a few years. Many around the country know these people:
Law enforcement was conspicuously prepared for trouble Saturday after a series of threats and attacks in the months following the insurrection.
In April, a man rammed his car into a barricade outside the Capitol, killing a Capitol Police officer. Last month, a man who claimed he had a bomb parked a truck near the Capitol and demanded to speak to President Biden. And earlier this week, a man with a bayonet and machete was arrested near the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
And that makes this all a bit absurd:
Matt Braynard, the former Trump 2016 campaign staffer who leads Look Ahead America, repeatedly insisted that the rally would be peaceful.
“This is a purely patriotic exercise of First Amendment rights of fellow humans, fellow Americans who have been denied their civil rights because of their political beliefs,” Braynard said.
That’s not what most people saw eight months earlier, and now they know what to expect, and it isn’t a purely patriotic exercise of First Amendment rights. Expect a specific kind of violence:
The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol may have been a fringe group of extremists, but politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the U.S. public, according to a new survey by the American Enterprise Institute.
The survey found that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that “if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”
That result was “a really dramatic finding,” says Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life. “I think any time you have a significant number of the public saying use of force can be justified in our political system, that’s pretty scary.”
Of course the American Enterprise Institute is a quite conservative Republican think tank, but traditionally conservative and not impressed with Trump or QAnon, so of course they’re frightened. This Republican Party is not what they signed up for:
The survey found stark divisions between Republicans and Democrats on the 2020 presidential election, with two out of three Republicans saying President Biden was not legitimately elected, while 98% of Democrats and 73% of independents acknowledged Biden’s victory.
The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about 8 in 10 said the current political system is “stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values.” A majority agreed with the statement: “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”
Elections don’t work anymore. Guns might work now. Trump seems to have had that in mind eight months ago. But this new follow-up rally, which he repeatedly endorsed and heavily promoted, came to nothing. No one stormed anything. No “political prisoners” were freed. The people, outraged by and fed up with democracy, are not rising up to return him to power. The people abandoned him. They say that they may have to use force to save the traditional American way of life, but maybe later. There are too many cops around.
Trump gets it. He has another plan:
Former President Donald Trump has made no secret that he is eager to end Mitch McConnell’s run as the Republican leader in the Senate, but lawmakers don’t seem all that interested, reports the Wall Street Journal. Trump has been making calls to senators and allies to try to weigh potential interest in ousting McConnell from the leadership spot, but so far he has gotten little traction.
Although the two men were allies for much of Trump’s presidency, McConnell refused to go along with the former president’s lies that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election. Even if Trump’s plan never gets off the ground though “the discussions risk driving a wedge deeper between the most influential figure in the Republican Party and its highest-ranking member in elected office,” notes the Journal.
But the idea is to get rid of the highest-ranking Republican in elected office and replace him with someone who will swear that Trump won reelection in a landslide and that Trump is still the president. But that went about as well as the second justifiable-insurrection rally:
Differences between Trump and McConnell have only grown since the former president left office. McConnell was one of 18 Senate Republicans to vote in favor of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that Trump spoke up against. Although Trump has been open about his desire for Republican senators to oust McConnell from the leadership spot that he has held for almost 15 years, he refused to discuss in a recent interview whether he was trying to get potential challengers together.
For now it seems even Trump’s most fervent allies aren’t all that eager to join the former president in the plan to oust McConnell. “Naw, I’m not going to get in that fight,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who was one of Trump’s top allies in the Senate, said. Even candidates that Trump has endorsed have failed to publicly express a desire to oust McConnell from his position.
Trump may not return in triumph. Donald Trump might not return at all. And now even Fox News reports that the nation agrees with the Biden-Fauci moves to keep even more people from dying:
Majorities of Americans support mask and COVID-19 vaccination mandates in some situations, according to a Fox News poll released on Sunday.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents in the new survey said they support mandatory mask-wearing for students and teachers in schools, with 66 percent also saying businesses should require face coverings.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents seem to think that thirty-three percent of Americans are quite dangerous fools, and then add this:
According to the poll, 61 percent of respondents said would support vaccine mandates for teachers, 58 percent agreed for federal government workers and 55 percent backed requirements for businesses employees.
Fifty-four percent of Americans also said they support vaccination requirements to participate in indoor activates, which is up from 50 percent last month, pollsters noted.
But there are always those who say science is nonsense or deliberate lies:
Ninety percent of registered Democrats said that they believe that masks are effective against the coronavirus while 51 percent of registered Republicans think differently, according to the survey.
They did their research on Facebook. They’ve heard stories. But the rest are okay with Biden and Fauci and science and reality:
President Biden announced earlier this month that all private employers with 100 or more employees would be required to mandate COVID-19 vaccine and daily testing, and required vaccines for federal workers and contractors as well.
Those who disagree are few and may be fading away, like Trump. And some are just an embarrassment, as the Washington Post’s James Downie notes here:
When naming the poster child for irresponsible leadership on Covid-19, there are plenty of governors to choose from. You could make a strong case for South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). But the mistakes of another Republican governor, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, haven’t gotten nearly enough attention. Until, that is, a disastrous appearance Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Host Jake Tapper opened the interview by asking Reeves to respond to President Biden’s callout of the state in a speech Thursday: “In Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more,” said the president. “I propose a requirement for covid vaccines, and the governor of that state calls it, quote, ‘a tyrannical-type move.’”
Yes, Biden specifically called the governor of one state, Mississippi. He called out Tate Reeves. Jake Tapper did that journalistic thing. He asked for a response to that, but this politician did the political thing:
Reeves tried to dodge by distinguishing between the vaccines at issue. “It is unique to kids and their ability to go to our public schools. It’s not vaccines mandated in the workplace,” he told Tapper. “This is an attack by the president on hard-working Americans and hard-working Mississippians who he wants to choose between getting a jab in their arm and their ability to feed their families.”
Downie is not impressed:
First of all, if a vaccine mandate violates fundamental freedoms, surely, it’s more despicable to impose it on children. Reeves’s argument is nonsense. Those mandates are “unique to kids” because children can receive those vaccines. If the Food and Drug Administration cleared the coronavirus vaccines for all children tomorrow, does anyone believe Mississippi Republicans would suddenly support a mandate?
Some questions answer themselves, and then there was this:
“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you,” Tapper said, “Mississippi this week became the state with the worst number of coronavirus deaths per capita. In fact, if Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita. That’s a horrible, horrible, heartbreaking statistic.”
Trapped by the numbers, Reeves avoided engaging the facts. He replied that cases have fallen in his state in recent days (as they have in many other delta variant hot spots). “Unfortunately, fatalities are a lagging indicator when it comes to the virus. It is a lagging indicator. And so timing has as much to do,” Reeves said, “with that statistic that you used as anything else.”
Downie is not impressed with that either:
Yes, deaths are a lagging indicator, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. (And the improvement in case numbers could reflect the recent increase in vaccinations in response to the delta surge.) Nor should a governor – who professed that “my heart breaks for all 9,000 Mississippians that have passed away” – downplay those deaths. That Reeves would dismiss these deaths as bad “timing” says plenty about what Republican governors value…
But the whole thing was unpleasant:
You might think Reeves would be reluctant to speak out against a public health mandate, given his record on the subject. When covid first hit the state last year, Reeves asked Mississippians to trust in the “power of prayer.” On the tail end of last summer’s surge, he issued a mask mandate in August 2020. Within two months, he lifted it, only to reinstate it a few months later after cases rose again.
Certainly, Reeves is not unaware of the vaccines’ effectiveness. “The best thing that Americans can do is to talk to their doctor about potentially getting the vaccine,” he told Tapper. “In our state,” he said, some 89 percent of those hospitalized and 87 percent of deaths “are actually coming from those who were unvaccinated.”
So if resisting mandates has failed again and again, and if the steep toll of stalled vaccination rates is obvious for all to see, what is the problem with a vaccine mandate?
That’s not a question Reeves wants to answer.
No, he has other ideas:
“What we ought to be talking about,” he told Tapper, “…is what can we do to minimize the deaths going forward.”
Leave it to the states! But he has no ideas there:
Let’s look at the states – those “laboratories of democracy.” According to seven-day rolling averages, as of Sunday, the five states with the highest per capita covid death rates are all governed by Republicans, as are 12 of the top 13.
Reeves may protest that “this virus is not just attacking Republicans in red states,” but under Republican leaders in red states, there are too many needless deaths.
That’s becoming more and more obvious. So is the slow fade. Trump. And then the rest of the Republicans. Going. Going. Gone. One day.