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Does A Fascist Takeover Of Our Country Seem Remote? It Isn't!



Writing at Crooks & Liars this morning, Kerry Eleveld noted that Biden-- historically a Joe Manchin kind of senator who has always run his mouth endlessly about fake bipartisanship-- "surrendered his olive branch to the realities of the knife fight we now find ourselves in to save the republic. 'Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect Americans’ right to vote,' Biden said during his speech in Atlanta. 'Not one. Not one.' Biden's unequivocal indictment of Trump and his Republican enablers ushered in a new day in the fight for American democracy. As White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, Biden’s voting rights speech 'clearly struck a nerve.' That was particularly true of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who issued a blistering response from the Senate floor-- otherwise known as Republicans playing defense."


I guess... but I doubt it went much further than McConnell and I sure don't see any ripples of it among the American people, at least not yet. Maybe it presages a sustained effort by Biden, though expecting that would be a stretch in my opinion. Eleveld noted that "If Democrats fail to pass voting rights legislation, it will undoubtedly be a loss for the country and democracy itself." You think? People aren't taking the threat of a rapid slide into fascism seriously enough. They should. And this is what I call fighting back against the toxic turn of events in our country. John Nichols last week: "Peddling the lie that the Democrats were engaging in 'fraud…in this election,' [Madison Cawthorn] said, 'The Constitution has been violated.' He then asked for the crowd to back him up when, 'at 12 o’clock today, we will be contesting the election.' The rally appearance was the culmination of weeks of agitating by Cawthorn, who echoed and amplified Trump’s claims that the election had been 'rigged' and 'stolen,' and who urged young right-wing activists to intimidate and pressure members of Congress who were disinclined to seek to overturn the election results. Speaking to a December 2020 gathering, he declared, 'Ladies and gentlemen, the fight for America is only just beginning and I honestly feel bad for the enemies of liberty and justice because they have no idea what they’ve just started.'"


Nichols reported that Cawthorn argued that 'if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place-- and it’s bloodshed.' It is difficult to review Cawthorn’s record and not conclude that he has violated his oath to 'bear true faith and allegiance' to the US Constitution." Unless stupidity and ignorance are legitimate defenses. But Nichols and many others-- myself included-- agree that by the standard of the 14th Amendment, "it is entirely appropriate-- and necessary-- to argue that Cawthorn has disqualified himself from continued service in Congress. Under North Carolina law, a candidate who 'does not meet the constitutional or statutory qualifications for the office' they are seeking cannot be listed on the ballot. Yet Cawthorn is bidding for a second term. So it has fallen to North Carolina voters to demand a review of his candidacy with an eye toward striking his name from the list of contenders."

Cawthorn is the first sitting House member to face such a challenge-- but he won’t be the last. A number of House members have been identified by planners of the “Stop the Steal” rally as having collaborated with them-- either directly or via assigned staffers-- including Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Louie Gohmert of Texas. In addition, there are eight senators and 139 representatives who, after the deadly assault on the Capitol, gave aid and comfort to the coup attempt by voting to sustain one or both of the objections to the election results that were under consideration when the Trump supporters attacked.
The Cawthorn challenge is vital to the overall process of holding coup plotters and insurrectionists to account, as it goes to the very heart of the question of whether House members must abide by the Constitution they swear an oath to support and defend. “As set forth in our complaint, the publicly available evidence, including Representative Cawthorn’s own statements and reports that he or his office coordinated with the January 6 organizers, establish reasonable suspicion that Representative Cawthorn aided the insurrection, thereby disqualifying him from federal office,” said Ron Fein, the constitutional lawyer who serves as legal director for Free Speech For People. “We look forward to asking him about his involvement under oath.”

If you know anyone who isn't taking the threat seriously, ask them to read the Sidney Blumenthal piece in The Guardian recently, The insurrection is only the tip of the iceberg. Blumenthal is, an Abraham Lincoln scholar, a journalist and a former Bill Clinton advisor. He wrote that "After thousands of posts appeared for weeks on a website called TheDonald.win detailing plans for the 6 January attack on the Capitol, including how to form a 'wall of death' to force police to abandon defensive positions; after Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, warned his senior aides of 'a Reichstag moment' like the 1933 burning of the German parliament that Hitler used to seize dictatorial power; after insurrectionists smashed several ground floor windows of the Capitol, the only ones out of 658 they somehow knew were not reinforced, that allowed rioters to pour inside; after marching to the chamber of the House chanting 'Hang Mike Pence!'; after pounding on the locked doors; and as the Capitol police led members in a run through the tunnels under the Capitol for safe passage to the Longworth Building, Congressman Jody Hice, a Republican of Georgia, raced by a Democratic colleague, who told me Hice was screaming into his phone: 'You screwed it up, y’all screwed it all up!' (Hice has denied the incident occurred, but the Democratic congressman stands by his account.)


Hice, an evangelical minister, professor of preaching at a Southern Baptist seminary, and radio talkshow host before his election in 2014, has notably declared that freedom of religion should not apply to Muslims and that the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 people at an elementary school by a deranged shooter occurred because liberals were “kicking God out of the public square”.
He was tasked to present a challenge to Georgia’s electors before the joint congressional session convened on 6 January to certify the electoral college victory of Joe Biden. Hice performed his assignment as part of the far-rightwing Republican faction, the Freedom Caucus, directed by Congressman Jim Jordan, of Ohio, who was in constant touch that day with Mark Meadows, the Trump chief of staff and former Freedom Caucus member, and a watchful Trump himself. Just as the violent insurrection launched, and paramilitary groups spearheaded medieval style hand-to-hand combat against the police and burst into the Capitol, Hice posted on Instagram a photo of himself headed into the House chamber, with the caption, “This is our 1776 moment.”
To whom was Hice shouting that “y’all” had screwed it all up? It seems likely it was Meadows. And what had they screwed up? They had screwed up the coup that led to the insurrection.
The insurrection was not the coup itself. It was staged as the coup was failing. The insurrection and the coup were distinct, but the insurrection emerged from the coup. It has been a common conceptual error to consider the insurrection alone to be the coup. The coup, however, was an elaborate plot developed over months to claim that the votes in the key swing states were fraudulent, for Mike Pence as the presiding officer of the joint session of the Congress to declare on that basis that the certification of the presidential election on the constitutionally mandated date could not be done, to force that day to pass into a twilight zone of irresolution, for House Republicans to hold the floor brandishing the endless claims of fraud, to move the decision to the safe harbor of the House of Representatives, voting by states, with a majority of 26 controlled by the Republican party, to deny both the popular vote and the electoral college vote to retain Trump in office, for protests to breakout at federal buildings, and for the president to invoke the Insurrection Act to impose law and order.
Presumably, any gesture to forestall the coup by the joint chiefs would be communicated at once to Trump from his agent, Kash Patel, a former aide to far-right representative Devin Nunes), sworn enemy of the “Deep State,” embedded as chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense, and presidential orders would be issued to countermand. The rally on 6 January-- “will be wild,” Trump promised-- was a last-ditch attempt to intimidate the vice-president with the threat of violence into fulfilling his indispensable role in the coup, to lend support to the Republicans objecting to certification, and to delay the proceedings into a constitutional no man’s land.

The excerpt above just scratches the surface of what Blumenthal had to say. You should read his whole chilling report, which he ends by reminding his Guardian readers that "The coup of 2020 gestated within the central organizations of the Republican right, and it was a learning experiment for the Republican Party as a whole. Hice has announced he will run in the Republican primary against Raffensperger for Georgia secretary of state. He is only one of the Republicans focused on taking over the states’ electoral apparatus to ensure that the next time there will be no obstacles. By December, Republicans had proposed 262 bills 'to politicize, criminalize, or interfere with the non-partisan administration of elections,' with 32 becoming law in 17 states, according to the non-profit Protect Democracy group. The threat of intimidation, coercion and intimidation hangs over American politics. The coup may have failed, but it rolls on."

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