There are a lot of hard and thankless gigs these days.
But one of the hardest must be “intern for Adam Kinzinger.” The congressman from Illinois, and Air Force vet who served in Iraq, is now flying a different combat mission: truth bombing. As a key member of the Jan. 6 Select Committee — the next must see hearing is Tuesday — Kinzinger sacrificed his political ambitions to be on the right side of history.
The man deserves a Nobel Prize for bravery and honesty.
It has come at a tremendous cost. For the mortal sin of condemning Donald Trump’s attempted coup, Kinzinger is persona non grata to the frothing MAGA cult. He’s seen as a traitor, a liberal secret agent, a heretic, a disgrace, a treasonous scumbag who deserves to rot in hell for all eternity.
Some of his own relatives have said as much.
On Tuesday, Kinzinger released a truly bone-chilling comp of voice mails that have turned his answering system into a rated R rage machine. He prefaced this with an important reminder to the uninitiated: “All voice mails and phone calls are received by my interns, high school or college level, attempting to learn about the legislative process.”
Sigh. What they are learning about is death threats.
On any given day, an enraged MAGA cultist vows to assassinate Kinzinger and his family. The callers say they know where he lives. They make disparaging remarks about his mother, his wife, his infant son. They pray he dies a painful death. They promise to “get” him and make that so.
Donald Trump promoted a modern Civil War in America this week on his social media platform. Civil War?
Further confounding things, Republican candidates like Pennsylvania’s Kathy Barnette are openly running as ultra-MAGA candidates, having hijacked Trumpism without Trump himself. It’s causing the media and political elites to have a “Huh? What?” moment.
Trumpism without Trump? Could it even be a thing?
Apparently so: candidates Trump has openly disavowed are claiming Trumpism as their standard, the flag they’ll carry into the election and into office if they win.
Trumpism, they proclaim, is a coherent political philosophy of its own that has replaced conservativism as the dominant system of political theory in the “new” Republican Party.
But is Trumpism really new?
Consider its main principles:
*Assert white supremacy
*Fetishize rule by a wealthy elite
*Brand the movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
*Put the “rights” of business above those of workers
*Marginalize and destroy trust in the media
*Maintain a strict racial and gender hierarchy
*Arm the movement’s foot soldiers
*Regulate school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
*Embrace authoritarian preachers to claim the appearance of Christianity
*Make alliances with foreign authoritarians
*Rig elections and prevent minorities from voting
*Embrace a police state for all but the richest
*Accuse political opponents of demonic or perverse behavior
*Heavily criminalize minor behaviors like drug use
*Normalize violence as a political tool
*Oppose worker organizing efforts
*Claim the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the tyranny of the “deep state”
*Make it hard for all but the wealthy to get a college education
*Minimize government regulation of working conditions and products
*Establish a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement”
This is not Barry Goldwater’s, Ronald Reagan’s, or even George W. Bush’s Republican Party.
Sure, those guys were happy to suck up to the wealthy and pass legislation favored by big business, but they didn’t go so far as to separate themselves from the mainstream of American governance.
They didn’t accuse Democrats of drinking the blood of tortured children, openly proclaim their racism, or encourage violence. Before Trumpism, Republicans had for generations opposed nations that suppressed democracy and called out murderous dictators like Hitler, Putin, and Kim.
This is something new.
Or is it? Is it possible Trumpism is simply a very old American invention making its return to the US political stage?
In the early 1800s the invention of the Cotton Gin, which could with one very expensive machine do the work of 50 enslaved people, transformed the American South. It was a technological revolution that made possible the traitorous Confederacy.
For the previous thirty or so years, the slave-holding South had been a democracy, albeit one where only white men had a say in things. But even poor white men could vote, and the region identified as “America” with the American flag and American songs and textbooks.
Wealth disparities weren’t as severe as some northern regions, particularly New York City whose bankers and traders had been made rich by the cotton export trade. (When the South seceded in 1861 the Mayor of New York City argued that the city should secede along with them, but back in 1820 there wasn’t even a whisper of what would tear the nation apart in a mere forty years.)
The Cotton Gin, invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney and widely sold in the South in the 1810s and 1820s, changed all that. Only the wealthiest plantation owners could afford to buy a Gin, and it enabled them to out-compete the hundreds of thousands of small cotton farms that dotted the South.
Large plantations, after driving smaller local farmers out of business, bought up their land and hired their former owners to work the land as sharecroppers.
Wealth inequality exploded across the South as a new, powerful aristocracy rose up and seized control of Jefferson’s Democratic Party. By the end of the 1830s, most of the land and nearly all the wealth and political power in the South was in the hands of a few thousand families.
But that wasn’t enough for the Lords of the New Plantations in the New South of the 1840s and 1850s. They wanted total control of the entire country and were chafing under the restrictions of the American brand and its two-party system of government.
As I wrote in detail in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, by the late 1830s, with the rise of John C. Calhoun and the Nullification Crisis, the South was firmly in the economic, political, and social hands of a small number of morbidly rich plantation-based oligarchs.
It was no longer a democracy or a republic: the South had turned into a neofeudal state, what today we’d call a fascist state.
“A new generation of rulers reshaped the south around their new ruling principle…
“The development of Southern oligarchy portended the rupture of the union, regardless of the ties that bound them together, because no ties, physical, legal, or otherwise, can overcome the difference between fundamentally opposed types of political regimes.”
Nabors cites a speech to Congress by Senator Timothy Howe of Wisconsin, who argued that the oligarchy in the South had become so strong that they weren’t just trying to be left alone; they wanted to seize control of the North and end democracy in America altogether:
“Such, then, I find to be the cause and the purpose of the rebellion. It was not to secure the independence of slaveholders, but to subject you to abject dependence upon slaveholders. It was not to build a new capitol for a new government, but to place a new government in possession of your Capitol.
“It was not to frame a new constitution for a new republic, but it was to impose a new constitution upon the Republic of the United States. It was not to secure toleration for slavery within the seceding Slates, but to compel the adoption of slavery by the nation.”
Congressman John Farnsworth, representing the Chicago area of Illinois, laid it out clearly on Wednesday, June 15th, 1864 in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:
“The slave-owner is cutting at the heart of the nation; yes, sir, he is cutting at the throats of your sons and brothers, of your neighbors and friends; he is with mad desperation seeking to destroy the beautiful fabric of this nation, and to quench in our blood the fires of republican liberty which have burned so long, a beacon of light to other nations, and the hope of the world. All this [he] is trying to do that he may erect a slave empire instead…”
By the time of the Civil War, the oligarchs of the South had rejected all pretense of belief in democracy, a republican form of government, or even the core idea of the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America.
*Asserted white supremacy
*Seized total control of the political systems of the South
*Branded their movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
*Passed laws putting the “rights” of plantation owners above those of workers, including poor whites
*First marginalized and, by 1861, completely destroyed any opposition media (often lynching or imprisoning publishers and editors)
*Established a strict racial and gender hierarchy, both in society and in law
*Armed the Confederacy’s foot soldiers
*Carefully regulated school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
*Incorporated authoritarian preachers into the political Confederacy to claim Christianity
*Tried unsuccessfully to make alliance with French emperor Napoleon
*Rigged elections to prevent all minorities from voting
*Embraced a police state for all but the richest plantation owners who could never be prosecuted
*Accused their political opponents in both the North and South of demonic or perverse behavior, particularly interracial or gay sex
*Enforced anti-abortion laws when white women became pregnant
*Heavily criminalized minor behaviors like loitering
*Normalized violence as a political tool
*Crushed a generation of Southern worker organizing efforts
*Claimed the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the “tyranny” of the North
*Made it impossible for all but the wealthy to get a college education
*Ended what few government regulations existed for working conditions and products
*Established a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement” later known as “The Lost Cause”
In other words, Trumpism is simply the politics of the American Confederacy reinvented for the 21st century. And even now Trumpists — whether affiliated with Donald or not — are openly talking about starting a second civil war.
They’re lionizing killers for the cause like Kyle Rittenhouse.
They’re embracing foreign authoritarians like Putin and Orbán.
They’re building and funding their own media empires while destroying American’s faith in mainstream media.
And they’re successfully using the filibuster to block the passage of any legislation that may strengthen democratic principles in our republic.
Today’s Republican Party, under the control of Trumpism, is every bit as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the Confederacy in the 1860s.
It’s emerged from similar conditions and reflects a nearly identical worldview grounded in the fear of losing white supremacy. It’s based in the American South, as was the Confederacy.
The media needs to wake the hell up. The American government, the American people, and the Democratic Party must see the Trumpist Republican Party for the threat it is.
The FBI and intelligence agencies need to bring the seditionists within it to ground. Democrats must loudly call out its naked embrace of racism and fascism and make clear where this will lead if unchecked.
Every day that goes by without action brings us closer to the new Republican Party’s goal: tearing apart democracy in America and transforming this country into this generation’s version of the Confederacy, complete with its own Lost Cause mythology.
The question is no longer whether Trump and the MAGA movement are fascist, but where they are taking the country.
By Bill Blum
The Republican Party’s embrace of fascism is now open and notorious, and impossible to ignore. With the exception of a few stragglers and diehards, the party has been captured by Donald Trump and the MAGA movement he has spawned.
And the takeover is accelerating.
In his latest “Save America Rally,” held in Montgomery County, Texas, on Jan. 29, the former president went beyond his usual tirades about the “big lie” of the stolen election and Mike Pence’s cowardice, ranting that he would consider pardoning the Capitol insurrectionists if he is reelected in 2024. “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” he declared. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Implicit in the prospect of pardons is the endorsement of political violence and the promotion of alternative realities, both hallmarks of classic and, now Trumpian, fascism. Lest it be forgotten, four people died on the day of the insurrection. Another 150 officers from the Capitol Police, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police and other agencies were injured. In the weeks after the attack, an additional five officers died, either from injuries sustained during the riot or because they committed suicide.
At his Texas rally, Trump also called on his supporters to stage massive demonstrations if he winds up getting indicted or sued as a result of investigations led by the Justice Department, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis. Without mentioning James, Bragg or Willis–all of whom are Black–by name, Trump vowed, “If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or corrupt, we are going to have the biggest protests we have ever had.”
Following Trump’s remarks, Willis sent a letter to the FBI, asking for a “risk assessment” of the courthouse and government center where she works, and for security assistance.
The Republican National Committee, on the other hand, responded to Trump’s speech with abject genuflection. On February 4, the RNC voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for serving on the House select committee investigating the insurrection. In its formal censure resolution, the RNC condemned the pair for “joining in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” [The RNC later attempted to clarify that the resolution applied only to non-violent protesters.]
All three governors supported early state lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
If these kidnappings had been successful, these governors would have been put on trial for tyranny. And as we’ve seen with radical crazies, they would have been executed, most probably live-streamed.
The anti-United States cult of Trump and their support for an overthrow of a duly elected government played their best hand on January 6. Fueled by Traitor Trump and his despicable minions’ unconscionable behavior, thousands of MAGA cultists stormed the US Capitol, hunting for politicians to arrest.
Many chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they built a gallows outside the Capitol walls and we can only imagine what would’ve happened if they were successful in capturing even a single congressperson, let alone Speaker Pelosi or VP Pence?
Now we see Americans buying guns a rapid rate and this is similarly alarming. The NY Times writes, “But beneath the timeworn political cycle on guns in the United States, the country’s appetite for firearms has only been increasing, with more being bought by more Americans than ever before.”
Conservatives have relentlessly fear-mongered the lie that millions of immigrants are coming into our country through our southern borders to steal our homes, and that Antifa will destroy your neighborhoods.
Outside of targeting politicians that either refused to overturn a free and fair presidential election or supported instituting CDC guidelines to combat COVID, the new targets may be polling locations and voters around the country, including the swing states. Maybe especially in the swing states.
Right-wing state legislators are trying to undermine the integrity of our entire Constitution — A government of the people, by the people, for the people — by passing immoral and illegal voting restrictions targeted at the working class and minority populations. They are trying to pass legislation that puts the election results to be determined by a hand picked enclave of Republican activists, not the voters, even the people they deem eligible to be voters.
If a concerted effort is made by these right-wing militia groups beholden to Trump to intimidate voters, vote counters and to even shut down polling locations, how would local municipalities handle this? Trump won the 2016 election by three states only. There needs to be protections ready and waiting to thwart any effort to undermine the right to vote in every state.
As a precursor to the present, back in the highly contested 2000 election in Florida, the famed Brooks Brother riots were held to shut down the recounting of votes that eventually helped award George W. Bush the presidency.
Roger Stone was one who took credit for organizing Republican staffers to demonstrate, but it “turned violent and, according to The New York Times, “several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff’s deputies restored order.”
Within two hours the recount was stopped.
They got what they wanted.
These were GOP staffers wearing suits, not gun wielding psychopaths who would have no problem pulling the trigger against defenseless Americans. Many of those staffers ended up in key Trump administration positions.
We are arriving at a tipping point where fascists can overtake this nation and they’d have Fox News, evangelicals and the like supporting their efforts, apologizing for it and then even justifying it.
Proud Boys in Washington, D.C. (Johnny Silvercloud / Shutterstock.com)
Two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys gang are now being detained ahead of their trial for their roles in the January 6th riots at the United States Capitol building.
As reported by BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman, Proud Boys leaders Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs were ordered to go back to jail pending their trials by United States District Judge Timothy Kelly of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
In his ruling, Kelly emphasized the seriousness of the charges facing Nordean and Biggs, whom he said “stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power.”
On Sunday evening, Jordan Zarakin of Progressives Everywhere on Substack released an interview with Florida state Rep. Carlos Smith, the first gay Latino member of the Florida legislature, in which they discussed the growing sex trafficking scandal surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz.
During the segment, Smith noted that the Florida Republican Party, behind the scenes, is terrified that the investigation could sweep up more of their members.
“The web of corruption that Matt Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, and [Ron] DeSantis are all wrapped up in is really a web that appears to tie up the entire Republican Party of Florida,” said Smith. “It seems like everyone in the Capitol is nervous about what the next revelation is going to be and who else is implicated in this sweeping saga of corruption that they’ve been a part of for so long.”
US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP
According to CNN, the Supreme Court has once again declined to take up a lawsuit asserting the 2020 presidential election was tainted by voter fraud.
On Monday, the high court declined to take up a case filed by Republicans that the voting in Pennsylvania was tainted by changes to voting rules.
Noting that the latest dismissal by the court is signal that the justices want no part in Donald Trump’s assertion that he was robbed of his second term, CNN reports, “Before Monday, the justices had already declined several requests to dive into one of the most litigious elections in history, denying petitions from then-President Donald Trump and other Republicans seeking to overturn election result in multiple states President Joe Biden won.”
Just two weeks ago, many of us celebrated the new year – and the end of an especially devastating one – with a renewed sense of optimism that perhaps the worst of the Trump presidency was behind us.
That hope came to a screeching halt on January 6 when a violent, insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Many forces at work perpetuated and exacerbated the disturbing events that unfolded that day, and immediate and decisive efforts to hold Trump legally accountable have already begun:
On January 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time for inciting insurrection, an effort People For fully supported.
In addition to Trump’s impeachment, we have also called for the resignation of every senator and House member who voted to reject certification of the Electoral College results, and censure for Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Josh Hawley, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise.
In addition, we believe the Justice Department should undertake an investigation into Trump’s potential criminality in inciting the riots, as well as potential criminality of the actions of Trump cronies and rally participants, including Rudy Giuliani, Mike Flynn, Peter Navarro, and Rep. Mo Brooks.
And we have called for a full investigation of the law enforcement response for fraternizing with rioters and potentially even facilitating the violent attack, and for the stark disparity in their response to the pro-Trump mob and their history of needlessly aggressive policing tactics at Black Lives Matter protests, during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and other events.