Two years ago today, insurrectionists tried to hold American democracy hostage.
Two years later, some of the same insurrectionists are holding the House of Representatives hostage, while others are preparing to take power as part of the GOP’s new “establishment.”
It’s almost as if they are addicted to chaos theater.
Meanwhile, “Two years after US Capitol attack, investigation into Trump and insurrection enters new phase.”
Today’s GOP is still the January 6 Party.
As the Wapo reported, all but two of the 20 anti-McCarthy votes are “election deniers who embraced former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.”
McCarthy’s opponents include Matt Gaetz, who falsely claimed that some of the rioters “were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa." They also include Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry who pushed bizarre conspiracy theories about foreign interference and urged Trump to replace the acting attorney general “with an acolyte willing to do Trump’s bidding.” Five days after the election was called for Joe Biden, Perry was texting White House COS Mark Meadows: “From an Intel friend: DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion.”
Then there’s North Carolina’s Ralph Norman who urged Trump to declare “Marshall Law,” (sic) just days before the inauguration.
“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!” Norman wrote.
But, as my colleague Mona Charen continues to point out, the current imbroglio over McCarthy does not pit extremists versus the establishment. “It’s between two camps of extremists.”
There are no normies in this scenario.
Here’s your new “establishment,” folks:
Just last month, Marjorie Taylor Greene said that “if Steve Bannon and I had organized” the attack on the Capitol, “we would have won. Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”
Today, she is firmly allied with McCarthy, and poised to win key committee assignments under his speakership.
And, here is what the January 6 Committee said about one of McCarthy’s closest allies, Jim Jordan:
He participated in numerous post-election meetings in which senior White House officials, Rudolph Giuliani, and others, discussed strategies for challenging the election, chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud. On January 2, 2021, Representative Jordan led a conference call in which he, President Trump, and other Members of Congress discussed strategies for delaying the January 6th joint session. During that call, the group also discussed issuing social media posts encouraging President Trump’s supporters to “march to the Capitol” on the 6th.
Then there is McCarthy himself, whose current shape-shifting political identity was birthed by his embrace of election denialism and the Seditionist-in-Chief.
By now, you know that story: after a brief spasm of conscience in which he blamed Trump for the violence, McCarthy quickly fell back into line. It’s worth remembering that he did not have far to fall.
As Charen notes: “McCarthy, like all of the members of the Freedom Caucus who are attempting to thwart him, refused to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. Like the Freedom Caucus, McCarthy has faithfully repeated the lie about the 2020 election being stolen.”
He orchestrated the excommunication of Liz Cheney and hugged the QAnon caucus to his breast.
But McCarthy’s pattern of reckless surrender was set even before the attack. You might remember this cringey moment, when he scurried to catch up to the rest of his caucus as it became clear they were embracing bizarre and absurd legal strategies to overturn the election.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Friday joined 125 other congressional Republicans in supporting Texas’ long-shot Supreme Court lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s projected presidential victory.
McCarthy, the top-ranking Republican in the House and a close ally of President Donald Trump, was included in a “friend of the court” brief led by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., urging the high court to review the case filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier this week.
Paxton’s case accused Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin — four key swing states where Biden defeated Trump — of certifying “unlawful election results.” Texas is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the Electoral College votes cast by electors in those four swing states “cannot be counted.”
Well, as Abraham Lincoln might have said, oof.
My fellow Cheesehead, James Wigderson ponders the irony of the moment.
Imagine what it's like for McCarthy. He had to deny he ever said anything bad, like please end the riot, on the phone to President Donald Trump on January 6. He had to eat his words from a week later blaming Trump for the insurrection. He had to go begging at Mar-A-Lago for Trump's forgiveness, or was it an indulgence? He even had to suck up to the Trumpists with a failed attempt to sabotage the January 6 investigation by the House of Representatives.
His reward? Eleven (11) humiliating defeats and an endless series of self-defenestrating surrenders to the chaos caucus. But, Wigderson asks, why should McCarthy be surprised?
Even as the tear gas and the bear spray was settling in the atmosphere of the Capitol on January 6, as the police gathered the evidence of the insurrection and the blood and damage were cleared, 147 Republicans in the House (including McCarthy) sided with the violent mob and voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Did McCarthy expect that somehow some respect for tradition would cause every member of the House Republican caucus to vote for their leader when the time came? Did he think that he was dealing with honorable people who would make traditional demands in exchange for their support?
Obviously, some folks would like to scrub the memory of the attack on the Capitol. Via the Wapo:
The attack is not mentioned in the Capitol Visitor Center’s newly renovated exhibition hall, which provides a robust history of the building. Nor is it discussed in the seven-minute introductory film that visitors watch before the tour commences. And as the second anniversary of the attack approaches, the visitor center has not announced any plans to address it.
In contrast, Joe Biden will mark the anniversary with a warning about the ongoing threats to democracy. He will also award the Citizens Medal to some of the heroes, who “demonstrated courage and selflessness during a moment of peril for our nation.” Via Axios:
Among the honorees are Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn, Caroline Edwards, and Eugene Goodman, as well as Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.
Metropolitan police officer Daniel Hodges and retired Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone will also be recognized.
U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who suffered two strokes and died of natural causes the day after the Capitol attack, will also be posthumously honored at the White House ceremony.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers are among the other honorees.
Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, who served as election workers in Georgia's Fulton County during the 2020 election, and Al Schmidt, a city commissioner on the Philadelphia County Board of Elections during that time, round out the list of 12 honorees.
Finally, on this second anniversary, let’s give the final word to Michael Fanone, who provided this critique of the post-January 6 GOP to Rolling Stone.
Fuck Marjorie Taylor Greene (“Put her in the tinfoil-hat brigade”) and Andrew Clyde (“When confronted in person, he fucking folded like a fucking deck of cards”) and Matt Gaetz (“I mean, dude, there’s a constituency out there somewhere in America that elected Matt Gaetz and decided that guy somehow embodied what it is to be a real red-blooded American. A fucking pedo. I don’t get it”).
Fuck Josh Hawley. “He comes down there, flashes the sign of solidarity, riles up this fucking crowd,” Fanone says of Hawley’s actions during the insurrection. “I would’ve had more respect for him if he said, ‘Charge,’ and fucking rushed the first fucking group of police officers that he could possibly fucking find. But he didn’t. He ran like a bitch as fast as he fucking could to the closest safe room in the fucking Capitol building.”
And definitely, definitely fuck Kevin McCarthy, who, as Fanone describes in the first chapter of his memoir, Hold the Line (out Oct. 11), lied and deflected his way through a meeting with Fanone and Jan. 6 casualty Brian Sicknick’s mother — the dead man’s mother, for fuck’s sake! — as he nixed any chance of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because of so-called political factors.
1. What Bradley Fighting Vehicles Will Mean for Ukraine
In today’s Bulwark, General Mark Hertling explains that the Bradley has the speed, range, and firepower to help Ukraine retake its territory.
The Biden administration yesterday confirmed reports that it will include Bradley Fighting Vehicles in an upcoming tranche of weapons and ammunition for Ukraine. Coming soon after French President Macron’s announcement of the transfer of its wheeled and highly mobile AMX-10RC anti-tank vehicles, and along with confirmation that President Biden persuaded German Chancellor Scholz to provide a number of their Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles, the first week of the new year has looked momentous for Ukraine.
Giving Ukrainians Bradleys and other armored vehicles will transform the tactical capability of a technologically advanced maneuver force. More importantly—from a commander’s perspective—it’s also a solid approach to establishing the kind of advanced logistical, maintenance, and repair capability Ukraine needs for future deliveries of advanced vehicles.
2. ‘Nobody Is in Charge’: A Ragged G.O.P. Stumbles Through the Wilderness
Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein in the NYT:
As the chaos and confusion on the House floor stretched into a third day, Republicans made it abundantly clear who was leading their party: absolutely no one.
From the halls of Congress to the Ohio Statehouse to the back-room dealings of the Republican National Committee, the party is confronting an identity crisis unseen in decades. With no unified legislative agenda, clear leadership or shared vision for the country, Republicans find themselves mired in intraparty warfare, defined by a fringe element that seems more eager to tear down the House than to rebuild the foundation of a political party that has faced disappointment in the past three national elections.
Even as Donald J. Trump rarely leaves his Florida home in what so far appears to be little more than a Potemkin presidential campaign, Republicans have failed to quell the anti-establishment fervor that accompanied his rise to power. Instead, those tumultuous political forces now threaten to devour the entire party.
The current situation in Congress is EXACTLY what the Kochs, Mercers, etc. have been spending many millions of dollars of campaign and conservative think tank contributions over decades to achieve, i.e., the end of effective democratic government. Since an effective democracy is the only thing that stands in the way of them hoarding ever more of the nation's wealth for themselves and leaving the rest of us to beg for crumbs from their tables, they see democracy as their enemy and want to kill it. As many have pointed out, their interests are more aligned with Russian oligarchs, kleptocratic dictators, oil sheiks, etc. than with their fellow Americans, and they are finally seeing some real return on their investment.
People often say we are a country of laws, which is true. However, we are also a country of norms, behaviors society recognized as leading to a more harmonious society. Those norms started decaying in the 1990s and now we live in a world (to paraphrase Daniel Patrick Moynihan) where deviance is perpetually being defined down. Behaviors that would have been abhorrent 10 years ago are tolerated, even embraced. We should not be surprised at the chaos in the House or the behavior of January 6th--once the norms were thrown out, everything became possible and allowable.