Justice Must Be Done For Jamal Khashoggi

Yesterday, the U.S. Intelligence report on the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was made public.  The bottom line, as I said from day #1, is that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered the hit on Khashoggi.  No surprise there … the former guy remained buddy-buddy with MbS and claimed he had nothing to do with it, but those of us capable of adding 2+2 and coming up with an answer of 4, knew better.  So, what comes next?  Apparently nothing.

The Biden administration has concluded that it could not risk a full rupture of its relationship with the kingdom, relied on by the United States to help contain Iran, to counter terrorist groups and to broker peaceful relations with Israel. Cutting off Saudi Arabia could also push its leaders toward China.  I understand the reasons … I really do.  However, I think there comes a point when we must take a stand.  If we don’t, then how can we claim to be a nation of justice, of human rights and humanitarian values?  I share with you Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times that goes into a bit more detail than I am able to do.


President Biden Lets a Saudi Murderer Walk

The crown prince killed my friend Jamal Khashoggi, and we do next to nothing.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeNicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

The United States government publicly identified Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as the murderer of an American resident, and then President Biden choked.

Instead of imposing sanctions on M.B.S., Biden appears ready to let the murderer walk. The weak message to other thuggish dictators considering such a murder is: Please don’t do it, but we’ll still work with you if we have to. The message to Saudi Arabia is: Go ahead and elevate M.B.S. to be the country’s next king if you must.

All this is a betrayal of my friend Jamal Khashoggi and of his values and ours. But even through the lens of realpolitik it’s a missed opportunity to help Saudi Arabia understand that its own interest lies in finding a new crown prince who isn’t reckless and doesn’t kill and dismember journalists.

What should Biden have done?

As a matter of consistency he should have imposed the same sanctions on M.B.S., including asset freezes and travel bans, that the United States imposed in 2018 on lower-level figures who carried out the murder of Khashoggi. These sanctions should also apply to the stooges and front companies that M.B.S. has used to accumulate assets around the world.

“The key message that should be sent not only to M.B.S., and others in the Saudi Court and government, but also to other would-be killers of journalists around the world, is that there is a heavy price to pay for such crimes and nowhere to hide,” Agnes Callamard, who as a United Nations official investigated Jamal’s killing, told me.

The United States should also have suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia. United States law bars military assistance to security units involved in gross human rights abuses, and that is true of security forces under M.B.S., who also serves as defense minister.

Biden reportedly feared that sanctions on M.B.S. would poison relations with Saudi Arabia. Yes, that’s a legitimate concern, and I agree that it’s often necessary to engage even rulers with blood on their hands. But in this great balancing of values and interests, the towering risk is that M.B.S., who is just 35, will become king upon the death of his aging father and rule recklessly for many years, creating chaos in the Gulf and a rupture in Saudi-American relations that would last decades.

In other words, it’s precisely because Saudi Arabia is so important that Biden should stand strong and send signals — now, while there is a window for change — that the kingdom is better off with a new crown prince who doesn’t dismember journalists.

M.B.S. is the sixth crown prince Saudi Arabia has had over the last decade, and only one of them (King Salman) rose to become king. Two died, and two were deposed. If it becomes clear that Saudi Arabia will not have a workable relationship with the West if M.B.S. becomes king, perhaps we’ll see a seventh crown prince. That’s not the U.S. dictating to Saudi Arabia, but pointing out reality.

“King Salman and any independent advisers he may still have would be well-advised to consider how unsustainable it will be for the kingdom to retain M.B.S. as crown prince,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now. “M.B.S. has proven time and again to be a liability and a danger for the kingdom, reviled and avoided by the international community.”

American officials sometimes say that if we don’t sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, then France or Russia will. But what Saudi Arabia gets from America is not only high-tech weaponry but, far more important, an implicit promise of defense from Iran or other countries. France and Russia can’t provide that.

Some Saudis tell me that it’s a foregone conclusion that M.B.S. will become king. Maybe. But the fact that M.B.S. has detained rivals, like Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz (who is broadly admired in Saudi society) and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, suggests that he doesn’t think it’s a done deal.

“It’s not a given that if you’re crown prince, you’re going to become king,” noted Dr. Khalid Aljabri, who is currently in the United States but has close ties to senior Saudi royals, and whose father was allegedly targeted for murder by M.B.S. “Just apply the law. Sanction MBS! If they sanction MBS, the whole country would come to a standstill, and King Salman would have no choice but to remove his son, even if he doesn’t want to.”

Perhaps I’m biased because I knew Jamal. Some may think: It’s too bad about the murder, but other leaders have killed people, too. True, but M.B.S. poisons everything he touches. He kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister. He oversaw a feud with Qatar. He caused the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. He imprisoned women’s rights activists. He has tarnished his country’s reputation far more effectively than Iran ever could.

So, Mr. Biden, it’s not a human rights “gesture” to sanction M.B.S. Jamal was a practical man who didn’t believe in mushy gestures — but he did dream of a more democratic Arab world that would benefit Arabs and Americans alike. And by letting a murderer walk, you betray that vision.

Your thoughts?

They Walk Among Us

Thomas Edward Caldwell, age 65, from Berryville, Virginia, is a U.S. Navy veteran.  Caldwell, once a lieutenant commander in the Navy, also had a top-secret security clearance and served as a section chief for the FBI after leaving the armed forces in 2009.  After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Coast Guard and the Army Personnel Command.

Thomas Edward Caldwell has now been indicted on federal conspiracy and other charges in connection with the January 6th attack on the U.S. Congress and U.S. Capitol.  As a member of the right-wing group calling themselves the “Oath Keepers”, Caldwell was involved in planning and coordinating the attack on the Capitol.  On social media, in the days leading up to that fateful day, Caldwell reached out to another right-wing group known as the “Three Percenters”, in order to arrange plans to “transport weapons across the Potomac by boat.”

On January 1st, Caldwell wrote on Facebook …

“I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I did the former, I have done the latter peacefully but they have morphed into pure evil even blatantly rigging an election and paying off the political caste. We must smite them now and drive them down.”

During the attack on the Capitol, Caldwell received a text message from a cohort saying …

“All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.”

And later that evening, after the National Guard had secured the Capitol, Caldwell sent a Facebook message to another cohort, saying …

“We need to do this at the local level. Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”

This gave me chills.  Yes, it’s been over a month ago, and yes, we now have a President, with a capital ‘P’, and yes, over 230 of the perpetrators of that monstrous event have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes.  But some roam free on bond, and … let’s face it folks, the 230+ who have been arrested are a drop in the bucket.  There are more people out there with these warped notions and diabolical intentions.

Dawn Bancroft is 58 years old and lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania where she owns a gym.  She, too, was part of the attack on the Capitol, and her words are as chilling as Caldwell’s, perhaps more so …

“We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain but we didn’t find her.”

They walk among us, my friends.  They are the lady who asked you where she could find pizza crust in the grocery store, the man you saw on the corner waiting to cross the busy street, the guy who gave you a friendly smile while he was waiting to pick up his prescription at the pharmacy yesterday.  They don’t, in everyday life, go about half-naked with horns sticking out of their heads so that we can identify them as certifiable nutjobs.  They look and act normal, for the most part.  How many like Caldwell and Bancroft are there in your city?  I’d bet money there are some, probably living within a few miles of you.

What’s my point, you ask?  My point is that in order to deter such future attacks, we must make an example of these people.  We must find as many as possible, and they must be charged, tried, and convicted, then sentenced to the maximum allowed by law, in order to deter any who might be thinking to do the same.  And those like the former guy who inspired and incited these people, must also be charged and punished, preferably with a very long prison sentence.

The people mentioned above are the ones I have often referred to as the snakes that came slithering out from under the rocks when the former guy was campaigning for the 2016 election and basically told them that it is okay to be a racist, that white people, especially white ‘Christian’ people, are superior and have the right to denigrate and even kill ‘others’.  These snakes slithered out from under their rocks, and now they have no intention of going back, of accepting that this is a very diverse world, that Black people are just as deserving as any others, that Muslims are not terrorists, and that LGBT people have the same rights as anybody else.  That is not the world they want, and not one they will readily accept.

I call on every judge and jury in this nation to hold these people accountable for their actions on that day.  I call on the FBI to diligently root out those who remain free, to find them and prosecute them.  These people do not belong in our society … not now, not ever.

I hear there are ‘events’ planned for March 4th, and I can only hope that federal law enforcement agencies are on high alert and far better prepared and more effective at preventing a repeat of what happened on January 6th.  And given that social media has proven to be the venue through which these terrorists communicated and planned their attack, I would have no problem with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest being shut down for several days prior to March 4th.  Freedom of speech?  Sorry, folks … it’s time for some checks on unlimited 1st Amendment ‘rights’, if people do not also accept the responsibility that accompanies those rights.

Burn It Down

I first came across an opinion piece by one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, two weeks ago.  At that time, I considered posting it here, but decided against it, thinking it was a bit … much.  Today, however, in light of the destruction that was wrought yesterday by 43 men and women who shredded both their oaths of office and the U.S. Constitution, Robinson’s piece seems apropos of the moment.

This nation’s government can only function as it was intended if we have two distinct and separate political parties, but what we cannot have is one of those parties lacking a conscience, lacking honesty, lacking integrity.  The Republican party now has none of those attributes and can no longer be considered a legitimate party, can no longer be taken seriously by any who care about the fate of this nation and the 330 million people living here.


If the GOP is to rise from the ashes, it has to burn first

Eugene-RobinsonOpinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

Feb. 1, 2021 at 4:26 p.m. EST

Before a sane, responsible political party can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of today’s dangerously unhinged GOP, there must be ashes to rise from. The nation is going to have to destroy the Republican Party to save it.

Parties reform and rebuild themselves after suffering massive, scorched-earth defeats. Since Republicans decided to follow Donald Trump and Fox News into the dystopian hellscape of white supremacy, paranoid conspiracy theory and know-nothing rejection of science, they have lost control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. Yet it has become obvious that those defeats are not nearly enough.

You might think the violent and deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol — an unprecedented attack on our democracy, incited by Trump’s election-fraud Big Lie — would snap the GOP back into reality. Unbelievably, though, you would be wrong. 

If anything, the party is heading deeper into the wilderness. Look at how the two most powerful Republicans left in Washington behaved last week. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to bend the knee to Trump. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) voted to question whether Trump’s coming impeachment trial is even constitutional. 

What had looked like a flicker of sanity earlier, when McCarthy said Trump, among others, had some “responsibility” for the Capitol riot and McConnell said Trump “provoked” it, was nothing but a mirage. And anyone who expects there to be 17 Republican votes in the Senate to convict Trump, no matter how damning the evidence may be, will almost surely be disappointed. 

No one should have any doubt: The GOP bears no resemblance to the party of Abraham Lincoln. It is now the party of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who believes in the hallucinatory QAnon conspiracy theorywho has suggested that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is a child murderer and who thinks 2018’s California wildfires may have been ignited by a giant space-based laser somehow controlled by Jews. Also, high-speed rail is involved somehow.

Do mainstream Republicans such as McCarthy and McConnell believe such nonsense? No, but down by only 10 votes in the House and with a tied Senate, they do believe they are within striking range of regaining control of both the House and the Senate in next year’s midterm election, and they are choosing power — or its prospect — over principle.

For the sake of their party and the nation, those hopes must be utterly dashed. 

The 2022 midterms have to be more like 2002, during President George W. Bush’s first term, when his party gained seats in both the Senate and the House. That uncommon result was generally attributed to a groundswell of solidarity following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the nation, right now, should be equally traumatized. In January, the United States lost more than 95,000 people to covid-19 — the equivalent of a 9/11’s worth of death every single day. Just weeks ago, we saw the Capitol sacked for the first time since 1814. And a majority of the Republican rank-and-file clings to the lie that the election was somehow stolen from Trump. 

GOP House members who had the integrity to vote for impeachment, such as Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Tom Rice of South Carolina, are under withering attack from their fellow Republicans. The warning to Republican senators is explicit: Vote to convict Trump — and, effectively, purge him from the party — at your own peril. 

The GOP won’t or can’t reform itself. So we must help the party by crushing it.

The fact that dozens of major corporations such as Walmart, Google and AT&T have announced they will not give campaign donations to Republicans who voted to decertify the elections results is a start. But we consumers need to demand that corporate America go further by insisting that trade associations follow suit — and that companies at least ask their executives to refrain from giving to GOP Super PACs, the dark-money realm where donations are not statutorily bound by tight limits. 

We saw how Georgia voters recoiled from Trumpism by ousting two Republican senators and electing two Democrats, one Black and one Jewish, in their place — and that was before the Capitol riot. The necessary ruin of the GOP is far from an impossible quest.

It was GOP voters in Georgia who gave us Greene, most accurately identified as (R-QAnon), and she should be made the face of the GOP. The choice is binary and stark: If you don’t believe in Jewish space lasers, you can’t vote for Republicans. And if you loved the old Republican Party, you can’t have it back until you smash today’s GOP to smithereens.

Insurrection Impeachment: Prosecution Rests

The events of January 6th were plotted and financed by the person on trial in the Capitol today. What will the verdict be? Depends on whether the republicans in the senate have found a conscience — doubtful. We will remember what happens here and hopefully the Department of Justice will launch an immediate investigation. There will come a day when truth wins out and justice is served. Brosephus has summed up the impeachment trial and his views, with which I fully concur. Thank you, my friend.

The Mind of Brosephus

Yesterday, the prosecution finished presenting their case for Trump’s second impeachment. While I thought I knew the details of what happened on 1/6, the House managers somehow managed to drop even more knowledge and information that I had no clue existed. So, I’ll try to offer my insights on where things sit thus far.

While I initially thought that Trump’s actions of inciting the attempted coup warranted impeachment and a permanent bar from ever holding office again, I don’t think that would be sufficient based upon what the prosecution put forth this week. While I believe Trump’s actions fit the definition of stochastic terrorism, I could not have imagined how close we were to a full on constitutional crisis. Even being a fan of the TV show Designated Survivor, I don’t think Hollywood writers could have ever come up with a story to match what we’ve lived over…

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Follow The Money …

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) is a non-profit, nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C., that tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy.  Its website, OpenSecrets.org, allows users to track federal campaign contributions and lobbying by lobbying firms, individual lobbyists, industry, “dark money”, federal agencies, and bills.  It is a valuable and reliable resource.

Yesterday, Open Secrets published the following article showing the connection between Donald Trump’s campaign fund and those who led the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th.  Given this information, I think there cannot remain a single shred of doubt that Donald Trump used his money and influence to attempt to overturn our election and implement a takeover of the United States government.  Please take a moment to read this important piece …


Trump’s political operation paid more than $3.5 million to Jan. 6 organizers

By Anna Massoglia

February 10, 2021 9:22 am

As former President Donald Trump faces a Senate impeachment trial on charges of inciting attacks on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, unanswered questions about the full extent of his ties to a nearby rally the same day highlight the need for more campaign finance transparency.

Newly identified payments in recent Federal Election Commission filings show people involved in organizing the protests on Jan. 6 received even larger sums from Trump’s 2020 campaign than previously known.

OpenSecrets unearthed more than $3.5 million in direct payments from Trump’s 2020 campaign, along with its joint fundraising committees, to people and firms involved in the Washington, D.C. demonstration before a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Recent FEC filings show at least three individuals listed on permit records for the Washington, D.C. demonstration were on the Trump campaign’s payroll through Nov. 30, 2020. 

The Trump campaign paid Event Strategies Inc., a firm named in a permit for the rally that also employed two individuals involved in the demonstration, as recently as Dec. 15, just three weeks before the attacks on the U.S. Capitol. That’s according to the most recent FEC filings covering spending through the end of 2020.

Trump’s role in a rally at the Washington, D.C., Ellipse shortly before the attacks on Jan. 6 is expected to take center stage in the impeachment trial. 

But the American public may never know the full extent of the Trump campaign’s payments to organizers involved in the protests. That’s because the campaign used an opaque payment scheme that concealed details of hundreds of millions of dollars in spending by routing payments through shell companies where the ultimate payee is hidden. 

Trump’s 2020 campaign and joint fundraising committee, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, spent more than $771 million through American Made Media Consultants LLC, according to new data analyzed by OpenSecrets. The secretive limited-liability company was created by campaign aides and members of Trump’s inner circle to act as a “clearinghouse” to pay vendors, concealing the campaign’s transactions with those vendors. 

The FEC generally does not require campaigns to detail payments vendors make to subcontractors so long as the campaign does not have undue influence over the vendor and the subcontractor does not work under the direction or control of the campaign. But the role individuals in Trump’s inner circle played in creating the limited-liability company through which the campaign routed millions of dollars raises the question of whether the company is truly separate from the campaign. The former president’s son-in-law and White House advisor, Jared Kushner, reportedly helped create the limited-liability company and his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, reportedly sat on its board

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed an FEC complaint alleging that the Trump campaign and its joint fundraising committee may have violated federal election reporting rules by “laundering” those funds and concealing details of the campaign’s financial dealings. 

During the 2020 election cycle, this payment scheme disguised hundreds of millions of dollars paid to firms acting on behalf of the campaign as well to Trump’s family members. Undisclosed beneficiaries of those payments reportedly included Lara Trump as well as campaign fundraiser Kimberly Guilfoyle, according to the complaint. The full roster of individuals working for Trump’s campaign remains hidden from the American public. Details of those payments, such as the nature of services provided by each individual and the amount of money changing hands, are shrouded in mystery.

The role of nonprofit “dark money” groups that do not disclose their donors in organizing the demonstrations on Jan. 6 only adds to the opacity. 

Politically active nonprofits are only required to report limited information about their financial dealings in tax filings more than a year after activities take place — and may be able to keep their funders secret forever. The lack of transparency required of such groups means many details of who they pay and who bankrolls their activities can remain hidden. 

The rise of shell companies and politically active nonprofits channeling money from untraceable sources has made political spending harder to trace than ever. 

Under the most normal circumstances, disclosure loopholes can be exploited to hide anything from illegal campaign coordination to politicians lining their own pockets. 

Lacking enough commissioners to engage in most meaningful actions until December, the sole federal agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance law was largely powerless throughout the 2020 election cycle. With its quorum restored, the FEC can again vote on enforcement matters addressing a backlog of complaints alleging campaign finance violations.

 The possibility that a failed presidential candidate’s campaign may have continued bankrolling operatives behind a rally that escalated to violent insurrection raises the question of how this could have been hidden from the American public — and raises the stakes for campaign finance transparency to a new level.

The Fox News Stain on America

Fox News is, as I see it, the pimple on the patootie of network television, though I’m sure many would argue that point. Last night, they showed us just how little we or anybody matter to them, and Jeff has that story for us! An aside, an election tech company, Smartmatic, is suing Fox in a defamation suit for $2.7 billion! I hope they win their suit! Frankly, I hope Fox goes down in flames. Thanks, Jeff, for this excellent post … and I share your feelings … about 20 seconds is as long as I can view Fox!

On The Fence Voters

I watched MSNBC Wednesday night when they began to cover the arrival of murdered Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s remains to lie in state in the Capitol rotunda. A short memorial service followed, with many of his fellow officers present and several Congress members, President Biden, and his wife, Jill.

Curious, I switched over to CNN to see if they were covering the ceremony, which they were indeed doing. Then I got even more ambitious and decided to see what was happening over at Fox News. I occasionally do that for no other reason than to see what topics they’re talking about when a major news event occurs. Most of the time, I can only last about one minute before I begin to get sick to my stomach.

As I expected, there was no coverage whatsoever of the solemn ceremony. In fact, none other than the quack Dr. Scott Atlas…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 1/30

I thought this cold, dreary afternoon could use a bit of humour in the form of TokyoSand’s weekly cartoon roundup!  It’s amazing the difference in the tone of the cartoonists just in the past two weeks.  Not a single one has an orange-faced monster with a critter sitting atop his head!  Today’s batch is more humorous and uplifting than political ‘toons have been in a long time!  So, enjoy … and thank you, TS!

toon-1toon-2toon-3

See All The ‘Toons!

The Press Got It WRONG!

I fully support a free press, for without that, this nation cannot survive as a democratic republic.  However, in exchange for our support of the freedom of the press, we have a right to expect accurate and comprehensive reporting.  In this, we have been failed.  Rather than call a spade a ‘bloody shovel’, as my UK friend Mary once told me, they are whitewashing the GOP and pretending that there is still a party that actually cares about this nation and its people.

A daily newsletter I receive, Press Run written by Eric Boehlert, a respected journalist and published author, tells of the media’s latest lie – that the GOP has found their conscience.  It hasn’t.  Apparently, if violence and the threat of their own deaths wasn’t enough, then nothing will be.


Memo to media: the GOP’s Trump “reckoning” is never coming

Chasing unicorns

eric-boehlertEric Boehlert

In a move that should have surprised nobody, yet seemed to catch the D.C. press off guard, the Republican Party rallied to Trump’s defense this week, voting overwhelmingly in favor of shutting down an impeachment trial before it even begins in the U.S. Senate.

Casting aside the fact that he incited a murderous mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol, 45 Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), voted to give a remorseless Trump a pass. The vote came in the wake of news that, during the final days of his presidency, Trump secretly plotted to fire the U.S. Attorney General in order to force Georgia officials to overturn the state’s election results, which would have ignited the country’s gravest Constitutional crisis in a century.  

Confirmed: There is no looming GOP “reckoning” over Trump, and there will never will be, no matter how many times naïve news outlets suggest otherwise.

For five years, the press has gotten this story wrong. Why? Today’s Republican Party represents an unwieldy challenge for news outlets. It spent the winter wantonly trying to invalidate election results, while simultaneously endangering the masses during a public healthy crisis by deliberately misinforming Americans about the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also taken no disciplinary action against a new Congresswoman who previously supported the killing of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Yet the press remains committed to portraying the GOP as a mainstream, center-right entity. That’s why it keeps botching the “reckoning” story — reporters assume there is a Republican breaking point with Trump and the politics of hate and revenge he represents. But there never is.

The post-insurrection mob headlines in early January were explicit. And they were all wrong: 

“Republicans Splinter Over Whether to Make a Full Break From Trump” (New York Times)

  • “A GOP Reckoning After Turning Blind Eye to Trump” (Associated Press)
  • “Insurrection Marks Moment of Reckoning for Republicans” (US News)
  • “The day Trump broke the GOP” (Politico)
  • ” GOP Faces Trump Reckoning” (NPR)
  • “Southern California Republicans face reckoning after insurrection in D.C.” (Orange County Register)

If one of our two major political parties doesn’t care that Trump incited a mob by attacking free and fair elections for months, if the GOP doesn’t want to address the fact that extreme and violent domestic forces rallied to Trump’s side and set out, in theory, to kill members of Congress, then the press should report the truth and stop pushing this myth about a looming “reckoning.”

Instead, the Beltway press badly misread the insurrection story and assumed so-called responsible members of the GOP would do the right thing. The height of that purposeful naïveté came when nameless McConnell aides started calling reporters two weeks ago and telling them that McConnell maybe/kinda supported impeachment. Convinced that the mythical “reckoning” had arrived, journalists wildly overplayed the story.

“There’s a better than 50-50 chance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would vote to convict President Trump in an impeachment trial,” Axios excitedly reported. “Rep. Liz Cheney’s support for impeachment could open the floodgates for other Republicans,” insisted CBS’s Norah O’Donnell. The New York Times agreed, claiming Cheney’s move was, “a sign that the dam could be breaking against Mr. Trump in a party that has long been unfailingly loyal to him.” Adding, “Party leaders were racing to distance themselves from a president many of them now regard as a political and constitutional threat.” The newspaper was sure the “deeply divided” GOP was “close to a breaking point,” in the wake of the murderous mob.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

A Fox News headline announced, “McConnell Furious With President, Supports Move to Initiate Impeachment Proceedings.” And from CNN: “Many Republican senators are staying quiet about whether they’ll back conviction — a sign that they, too, could support conviction in an effort to rid Trump from their party.”

Wait, what? By saying nothing about impeachment Republicans were signaling they might support impeachment? What a strange tealeaf-reading exercise from journalists who were anxious to create a storyline about a rebellious wing of the Republican Party standing up to Trump. The whole thing was a mirage.

The press has been making this mistake for years, anxiously portraying Republicans as being deeply concerned over Trump’s reckless and dangerous behavior. Last summer, the Times announced GOP members were  “despairing” over Trump. “The result is a quiet but widening breach between Mr. Trump and leading figures in his party,” the newspaper insisted.  The breach though, was only visible to members of the press.

This kind of coverage has been predictably wrong throughout the Trump era because journalists have been projecting a rational thought process onto the Republican Party, and especially after he incited a deadly mob, leading journalists to think, ‘Of course they’ll punish Trump, of course he’ll be forced to pay a price, right?’

Not by this radical GOP. It was never a realistic option. The press needs to cover today’s GOP for what it actually is — fringe and erratic — and not the mainstream version they want it to be.

Wise Words From A Wise Man

Last night, I read Nicholas Kristof’s column from yesterday, an open letter to his conservative friends.  While he is kinder and more forgiving than I am, I do agree with most of what he says, so I’ve decided to share his letter here with you.  Mr. Kristof has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as numerous other honours far too numerous to list here.


A Letter to My Conservative Friends

Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Jan. 27, 2021

AMHILL, Ore. — This is an open letter to some of my old friends and neighbors who believe that Donald Trump won re-election, who think that face masks are for wimps and who fear that Democrats are plotting to seize their freedom.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Relax! We liberals aren’t plotting to round you up in “re-education camps.”

I was horrified when a couple of old friends here asked if they were in danger for having supported Donald Trump. I gently told them that they were in no peril — and I was stung that they felt greatly relieved to hear it.

Yes, I know that Fox News is peddling nonsense about Democrats setting up re-education camps, and that a Wall Street Journal column asked, “If you were an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter, are you ready to enter a re-education program?”

Folks, you’re being played. Again.

These are some of the same charlatans who argued last year that, as Fox News put it, the coronavirus is “just like the flu” and that mask mandates are a step toward “tyranny.” More than 400,000 coronavirus deaths later, some people are dead because they believed that drivel.

Then there’s the rubbish about the election. This month, just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, a childhood friend told me confidently that Trump would swoop in to serve a second term. When I told him he was wrong, he was astonished that I could be so poorly informed, and he helpfully advised, “Don’t pay attention to those liars in the mainstream media.”

You’ve been hoodwinked, exploited and manipulated by con artists waving flags, casting lies and monetizing bigotry. Steve Bannon, who suggested beheading Dr. Anthony Fauci, defrauded Trump supporters into donating to build a border wall and then used some of the money for himself, according to a federal indictment.

Here on our family farm, we received a direct mail appeal warning about “Islam in Yamhill Schools” and pleading for donations to protect Christianity. No, that isn’t about conservative values, but about spreading hate and hysteria while grabbing at your wallet.

So let’s give America a chance to heal. And, as I told my worried friends, don’t hesitate to stand up for your conservative values. We need Republicans! America benefits from a loyal opposition.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week called for trying harder to keep schools open. On that issue, Republicans have been more right than many Democrats.

But half a century ago we didn’t need the racist George Wallace wing of the Democratic Party, and today we don’t need the wing of the Republican Party that embraces conspiracy theories and winks at violence.

The grand question: Without that wing of today’s G.O.P., what’s left?

One glimpse of the conundrum: The G.O.P. representation in Congress is losing Rob Portman, a widely respected senator who announced he will step down, and just gained Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, an extremist who in 2019 endorsed the idea of shooting Nancy Pelosi in the head. When a party loses a statesman and gains a kook, that’s a bad omen.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii G.O.P. this week recommended the “high quality” commentary … of a Holocaust denier. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News that Democrats are trying to “exterminate the Republicans.” Sure, Democrats sometimes say and do dumb things, too, but there’s no symmetry.

As I see it, the last, best hope is twofold. First, Republican leaders must learn that extremism is a losing strategy. Only one G.O.P. candidate for president has won the popular vote in the last three decades, and the loony Arizona Republican Party has lost about 10,000 members since the riot in the U.S. Capitol and its censure of party elders like Cindy McCain. If Trump is further discredited through prosecutions or scandals, it is possible (though far from certain) that his malign influence on the party will diminish.

Second, to dampen that extremism, advertisers should stop supporting networks that spread lies and hatred, and cable companies should drop channels that persist in doing so. As a start, don’t force people to subsidize Fox News by including it in basic packages.

Is this a slippery slope? Yes, and it makes me queasy. But we all recognize that there are red lines: Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan grand wizards have First Amendment rights, but we shouldn’t pay to give them microphones, nor should commentators on the left or the right get megaphones to promote violence. Extremists enjoy free speech but shouldn’t be buttressed by advertisers or our cable fees.

So, conservative friends, fear not: We’re not plotting to lock you up in detention camps. We need you to keep us honest. But you’ve been scammed in ways that have hurt the country we all love. Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

“Truth Matters or we are Lost” If You are to Say that Trump is Not Guilty it Would be True to Say that there are no Slain and there Has Been No Crime: the Second Trump Impeachment

The impeachment trial of the twice-impeached president, Donald Trump, is to begin on February 9th. Will it end differently than the last trial? The future of this nation depends on 100 men and women in the Senate … the question is, will they vote their conscience, or will they continue to be cowards who have forgotten the oath they took? Padre Steve says it well, makes the case that the Senate must do their jobs, else the nation will pay a steep price. Thank you, Padre … you’ve said it well.

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Representative Jamie Raskin, Chief House Impeachment Manager

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today the House of Representatives Impeachment Managers delivered the Impeachment Article against former President Donald John Trump to the United States Senate. It was a historic moment for it was the first time a President has been impeached twice, and the first time that one has had the impeachment charge was filed after a President left office, unfortunately it was necessary and an unnecessary unfolding of events brought about by Trump himself.

In his last words at the first impeachment trial of President Trump Congressman Adam Schiff stated:

“If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right. That’s what they do in the old country, that Colonel Vindman’s father came from. Or the old country that my great…

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