Mitch McConnell, One Year Ago. Lest We Forget.

“January 6th was a disgrace.

“American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like.

“Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the Vice President.

“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election.

“Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.

“The House accused the former President of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law.

“Let me put that to the side for one moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.

“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.

“And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.

“The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6th.

“It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged ‘trial by combat.’

“It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-President.

“I defended the President’s right to bring any complaints to our legal system. The legal system spoke. The Electoral College spoke. As I stood up and said clearly at the time, the election was settled.

“But that reality just opened a new chapter of even wilder and more unfounded claims.

“The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.

“Sadly, many politicians sometimes make overheated comments or use metaphors that unhinged listeners might take literally.

“This was different.

“This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.

“The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence began.

“Whatever our ex-President claims he thought might happen that day… whatever reaction he says he meant to produce… by that afternoon, he was watching the same live television as the rest of the world.

“A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags, and screaming their loyalty to him.

“It was obvious that only President Trump could end this.

“Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the Administration.

“But the President did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed, and order restored.

“Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election!

“Even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in danger… even as the mob carrying Trump banners was beating cops and breaching perimeters… the President sent a further tweet attacking his Vice President.

“Predictably and foreseeably under the circumstances, members of the mob seemed to interpret this as further inspiration to lawlessness and violence.

“Later, even when the President did halfheartedly begin calling for peace, he did not call right away for the riot to end. He did not tell the mob to depart until even later.

“And even then, with police officers bleeding and broken glass covering Capitol floors, he kept repeating election lies and praising the criminals.

“In recent weeks, our ex-President’s associates have tried to use the 74 million Americans who voted to re-elect him as a kind of human shield against criticism.

“Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters.

“That is an absurd deflection.

“74 million Americans did not invade the Capitol. Several hundred rioters did.

“And 74 million Americans did not engineer the campaign of disinformation and rage that provoked it.

“One person did.


“On a Lark” and “No Plan” May Not Be a Good Idea…Ya Think?

From The Washington Post:

Former president Donald Trump has canceled the news conference he planned to hold on Jan. 6 to mark the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

In a statement released Tuesday by his Save America PAC, Trump blamed the media and the bipartisan congressional committee that is investigating the attack. Trump’s lawyers are fighting the panel’s efforts to obtain his records.

“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, and instead will discuss many of those important topics at my rally on Saturday, January 15th, in Arizona—It will be a big crowd!” Trump said.

The Jan. 6 committee: What it has done and where it is headed

The former president had been planning to speak at his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida on Thursday night.

According to a person familiar with the matter, Trump wanted to make a scene and deride reporters at the event but had been told repeatedly by his advisers that it could be the kind of coverage he doesn’t want. Trump also did not know exactly what he wanted his message to be, and his team was taken aback by how many reporters were planning on attending, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

“It was going to be awful, awful press,” a Trump adviser said. The adviser, who was not authorized to speak publicly about deliberations surrounding the event, said Trump had originally announced the news conference on a lark and without a plan in place.


The Good Coup

From The Bulwark, by Amanda Carpenter:

Donald Trump’s former White House advisor Peter Navarro is mad.

The way he tells it, he and Steve Bannon had a perfectly legal strategy they termed the “The Green Bay Sweep” (a nod to Vince Lombardi) to deprive Joe Biden of the presidency. And, everything was going swimmingly until Trump’s mob showed up and ruined the flow.

In a pair of recent interviews and the final chapters of his grudge-filled book In Trump Time,

Navarro says that he provided research reports to back objections to the Electoral College that were approved of by Trump and disseminated by his office to members of Congress. Bannon acted as the “strategist” and “whip” and “over 100” members of Congress were “lined up to execute that plan.”

These details provide new insight into how closely Trump and his associates coordinated with the Hill to throw the election to Trump, which Navarro believes could have worked.

He told with Rolling Stone in an interview published Monday evening:

It started flawlessly when [Arizona Rep. Paul] Gosar and [Texas Sen.] Cruz promptly at 1 p.m. called on scrutiny of the Arizona vote. Arizona was one of six battlegrounds: They were Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. And it started flawlessly, but the violence overtook that event. The rest, as they, say is history . . .

My role in the whole thing was basically to provide Congress, via my reports, the analytical material they needed to actually make the challenges. And the president himself had distributed Volume One of the report to every member of the House and Senate a week or so earlier. . . .

There was a couple of times I walked over to the Oval—both times after I finished a report—and personally handed him one and briefed him on it. In the first case, in front of me, he asked Molly Michael, his assistant, to make sure everybody on the Hill promptly got a copy of it.

His theory was that the objections would take many hours, and the media would be forced to cover it all, creating pressure to finally send Electoral College votes back to the states for “further review.” Because . . . reasons?

At that point, Navarro told Rolling Stone:

One of two things could happen. They go back there [to the states], they look at it and they say, “Nope. It’s certified.” [The votes] come back, and that would be it. Fair enough.

But the more likely scenario based on our assessment of the evidence was that states would withdraw any certification. And the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives. And even though the House is controlled by Democrats, the way votes would be counted in a presidential election decided by the House, Trump would almost certainly win.

Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. You get a nice, legal coup. All above board and on the up-and-up.

It is interesting that Navarro believes that this version of events clears Trump of any responsibility for the violence on January 6. He writes in his book that he, Bannon, and Trump were “the last three people on God’s good Earth who want to see violence erupt on Capitol Hill” because “it was this violence that finally put an abrupt end to any hope the president had for taking back an election likely stolen from him.”

In other words: He, Bannon, and Trump were in the middle of executing a legal coup, which the violent coup attempt foiled. Therefore, he, Bannon and Trump couldn’t possibly be responsible for the violent attempted coup. Which is a defense, of sorts.

What Navarro is arguing is that he had a good coup in mind. The rioters were trying to do a bad coup. He’s the good guy. The rioters—and, funnily enough, Mike Pence, whom Navarro accuses of “betrayal”—are the bad guys who got in the way of this good coup. Navarro describes The Green Bay Sweep as “a well-thought-out plan based on sound, constitutional law and existing legislative precedent.”

“And all it required was peace and calm on Capitol Hill for it to unfold,” Navarro said.

And yea, verily, there is nothing expressly illegal about the strategy Navarro came up with. There are perfectly legal ways to disqualify the Electoral College votes and throw the election to a vote in the House of Representatives by state delegations. And, Trump would have likely won that vote.

Navarro is certainly right: This scheme could have worked.

Whether that’s a defense or an indictment is up to America.


The Gift That Keeps on Giving…and Lying

From The Oregonian:

Jared Schmeck ‘proud’ of dig at President Biden, promotes lie that Trump won

The southern Oregon father of four who ended a Christmas Eve call with President Joe Biden by declaring “Let’s go Brandon” told a former adviser to President Donald Trump this week that he believes the verifiably false claim that “the election was 100 percent stolen.”

Despite telling The Oregonian/OregonLive on Saturday that he was not a “Trumper” and the comment was in jest, Jared Schmeck said Monday he’s “proud” of using the conservative dig against Biden at the end of a live streamed Santa tracker call and called the moment “pretty darn funny.”

“Donald Trump is my president and he should still be president right now,” Schmeck told Steve Bannon in an interview on Bannon’s program, “War Room,” which airs on a network called “Real America’s Voice.”

Biden won 306 votes in the Electoral College and Trump received 232. Biden won by more than 7 million votes.

Schmeck, 35, lives in Central Point and works for an electric company. In the aftermath of his remarks, the company website appeared to be down and the company’s Yelp page was filled with negative comments.

He was previously a Medford police officer for six years until he resigned in July 2018.

Schmeck wore a “Make America Great Again” hat and struck a defiant tone in the conversation with Bannon, saying that using the euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden” was a way to express his dissatisfaction with the president.

“I’ve got a chance right now to voice my disapproval of this man and his administration,” Schmeck said.

“You’re John Q. Public, what is that disapproval?” asked Bannon. Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury in November and charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena to testify and provide documents for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Schmeck cited “the leftist mob, the cancel culture, the mainstream media.” He did not elaborate.

The phrase “Let’s Go, Brandon” has become a conservative dig at the Democratic president, a code for “F— Joe Biden,” which resulted from an Oct. 2 NASCAR race in Alabama, where a crowd was shouting the vulgar chant, but a TV reporter suggested during an interview with the winning driver Brandon Brown that the crowd actually was chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon.” Brown had just won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

In his conversation with Bannon, Schmeck went on to offer a laundry list of criticism, including the withdrawal from Afghanistan, “supply chain issues,” “terrible policies on abortion” and a border crisis.

“There’s just more than I can even say,” he said, laughing.

Schmeck received sharp criticism on social media, where amateur sleuths dug into his background, trolled his father’s business and mocked Schmeck for turning a Christmas tradition into a political stunt.


Don’t Be Such a Schmeck…er…Schmuck

From The Oregonian:

A Central Point father of four who wished President Joe Biden and the first lady a wonderful Christmas and added “Let’s go, Brandon,” at the end of a live streamed Santa tracker call told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he didn’t intend his parting message to be vulgar.

“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden, but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job,” said Jared Schmeck, 35, who works for an electric company and was previously a Medford police officer for six years until he resigned in July 2018. “I mean no disrespect to him.”

The phrase “Let’s Go, Brandon” has become a conservative dig at the Democratic president, a code for “F— Joe Biden,” which resulted from an Oct. 2 NASCAR race in Alabama, where a crowd was shouting the vulgar chant, but a TV reporter suggested during an interview with the winning driver Brandon Brown that the crowd actually was chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon.” Brown had just won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

Schmeck said he’s not a “Trumper,” but described himself as “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”

Schmeck called his remark a “joke,” and a reflection of his frustration with Biden’s policies, including the federal vaccine mandates, inflation and global supply chain problems that have caused shortages in consumer products.

“And now I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech,” Schmeck said, adding that he’s been receiving some vague but threatening phone calls since the Santa tracker call.

“I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple minded, no matter how I feel about him,” the 35-year-old father said Christmas morning. “He seems likes he’s a cordial guy. There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner…I love him just like I love any other brother or sister.”

Asked why he resigned from Medford police on July 15, 2018, Schmeck wouldn’t say.

He went on to say he “stood 100% behind what I did and what I said.”


For Christmas, We Received a Hopeful Week

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

This has been a bit of a hopeful week as weeks go these days. The U.S. Army seems to be closing in on a vaccine that will work against all variants of coronavirus—not just COVID, but SARS, as well. There are now not one, but two antiviral pills aimed at treating the virus in affected individuals and moderating its effects. And studies indicate the new Omicron variant of the virus, while highly contagious, results in a milder form of the disease than that produced by either the original strain or the Delta variant.

Science is reaching the point at which it’s done all it can. The rest of the fight against the pandemic depends on how much every one of us cares about our fellow human beings. This has been the obvious answer from the start, but it’s also been something at which the country has bridled over the past two years, a reaction that, as nearly as I can tell, is unprecedented in American history. I’m old enough to remember the unequivocal joy with which the Salk vaccine against polio was received. (Kids, of course, were equally overjoyed at the arrival of the Sabin vaccine. No more shots!) My mother had been confined for weeks in an iron lung after contracting polio as a young woman. It left her with a lasting medico-phobia that she transferred to me, thereby making sure polio affected our lives long after the vaccine had eradicated it. But even she insisted that I be immunized as soon as the vaccine became available. She didn’t believe in doctors, but she believed in that vaccine.

I believe we have it in us to be better than we have been. I believe we have it in us to be better than we are. I believe we can rediscover our common humanity if we just look for it. There are all kinds of things we knew and loved once that we’ve forgotten. There are better parts of ourselves that have lain dormant for far too long. Rediscovery can be as exciting as discovery was in the first place.

Every year at this time, I publish the rejoinder delivered by Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, the first time his uncle has dropped the “Humbug!” In response, Fred appeals to those parts of his uncle that have atrophied through many years of greed and contempt. Those are the first things that are summoned in the story. The ghosts come second. Lost humanity must be rediscovered first.

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say. Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creature bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

And so say we all, amen.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us in the shebeen. And god bless us all, everyone.


Joe Manchin Reports That White House Staffers Were Mean to Him

The senator hopped on a safe-space radio show to explain his torpedoing of Build Back Better.

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

All right, so now we have to monitor someone named Hoppy Kercheval, who has a radio show in West Virginia, in order to keep track of the whims and fancies of Senator Joe Manchin. Whenever the heat gets turned up in Washington, Manchin hops onto Hoppy’s show back home as a kind of safe space. And the heat never has been hotter than it has been since Manchin announced that he intended to chloroform the administration’s Build Back Better human-infrastructure bill for a number of reasons, most of them bogus. So Manchin dove back into the comfortable confines of Hoppy’s place. From The Hill:

“They figured surely to God we can move one person. We surely can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough that they’ll just say, ‘OK I’ll vote for anything …”Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period…They know the real reason, what happened. … It’s staff-driven. I understand it’s staff. It is not the president. This is staff. And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”

My god, the sheer brass on the man. His state is at the bottom with regard to most major categories of social problems. The guy then kills a bill that would help that situation root and branch while driving his Maserati to his yacht. On the way, however, he goes on the radio and claims he’s the guy who faced down the mighty, Ivy-covered power of the White House staff, who tried to bully Joe Manchin and his and his spouse’s seven-figure income. I’ve become accustomed to all manner of political performance art, but Manchin’s one-man-against-the-mob surpasses most in its towering inauthenticity.

I liked him so much better when he was worried that helping his constituents pay for childcare would turn them into parasites instead of the hardworking, unemployed salt-of-the-earth citizens who keep him in yachts and Maseratis. That’s the kind of basic political hypocrisy to which I am accustomed. Among the many people not buying his current act, we find the United Mine Workers. From Bloomberg:

The legislation includes several provisions that would aid coal workers, including extension of a fee that helps fund benefits for workers suffering from black lung and tax incentives that would encourage manufactures to build facilities in coal fields and to employ out-of-work miners, said United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts in a statement. For the first time, the bill would also penalize employers that deny workers their rights to form a union, Roberts said.

Ingrates. Don’t they realize that Manchin’s torpedoing black-lung benefits was part of his intrepid, one-man stand against 25-year-old deputy special assistants to the White House associate communications director? Did he mention he was from West Virginia?


Joe Manchin Has Kicked Off a Flurry of Straight Talk From Everyone Except Joe Manchin

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

Desperate times call for desperate measures and, when prominent politicians get desperate, the most desperate of their desperate measures is the utter abandonment of euphemism and a sudden devotion to simple declarative sentences describing what a duplicitous schmuck Joe Manchin is.

I refuse to spend an ounce of energy jumping up and down about Manchin’s grotesque bad faith, not while there are 50 Republican senators who care less about helping Americans than Manchin does. (I also will not be shaken from my conviction that Manchin was fronting for some other Democratic senators with even less guts than he has.) One of our two political parties has been too busy slouching toward Nuremberg to help govern the country, and it has no intention of ever doing so until it once again has the power to drive the country into a ditch. That is the real story behind the end of Build Back Better, which, alas, is not merely dead. It’s really, most sincerely dead. That being said, the sudden outburst of plain talk has been refreshing. For example, the White House called out Manchin for everything for which Manchin has been called out over the past year.

Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework “in good faith.”

That’s the first paragraph, in which the White House calls Manchin a three-card monte artist with a very good corner. His dander pretty clearly somewhere in the stratosphere, the president then unlimbered himself on the subject of COVID.

But I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken, Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would’ve otherwise done and as is happening in Europe. But it’s here now, and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase. For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death — if you’re unvaccinated — for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.

I think one of the things that stung the most was that Manchin chose Fox News to bail on BBB. And then there was his wounded-puppy act about how hard he had worked to find a way to keep faith with the good folks of West Virginia, when everybody knows that the bill he was killing dead would help vastly more people there than all of his professed concern about inflation and The Deficit would. The state is poor. It is sick, and getting sicker. It’s still reeling from being ground zero for the opioid epidemic. Strangely, after it was announced that 71 percent of West Virginians were fully vaccinated, a data reconciliation dropped that percentage below 50. West Virginia is 49th out of 50 states in median income, which is some indication that elements of the bill might be helpful to his state’s people, something that Manchin’s subsequent statement tries mightily to ignore.

For five and a half months, I have worked as diligently as possible meeting with President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues on every end of the political spectrum to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations. I have made my concerns clear through public statements, op-eds and private conversations. My concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world…

My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.

OK, that’s a load of codswallop, but it’s not the reason Manchin has jerked the party, the country, and his constituents around the way he has. This has been a donor scam from the first, and he closed the deal on Sunday. For him, I believe, it was the climate-crisis provisions all along. Everything else—childcare, paid leave, tax credits—is just window dressing, as witnessed by this amazing passage from his statement.

The energy transition my colleagues seek is already well underway in the United States of America. In the last two years, as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with bipartisan support, we have invested billions of dollars into clean energy technologies so we can continue to lead the world in reducing emissions through innovation. But to do so at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow will have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years.

Good god, this is just terrible bullshit. The failure of the Texas electrical grid absolutely had fck-all to do with renewable energy or any of the other provisions in BBB. (Not for nothing, but West Virginia’s grid is a mess.) It’s about his donors, pure and simple. That, and the spotlight. Can’t forget the spotlight. He never does. There’s always energy for that.