By Hyonhee Shin SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden had taken a wrong first step and revealed "deep-seated hostility" by criticizing its self-defensive missile test. North Korea on Friday claimed it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile. Biden said the test violated U.N. Security Council resolutions but said he remained open to diplomacy with Pyongyang. Ri Pyong Chol, secretary of the North's ruling Worker's Party's Central Committee, said the missile test was self-defensive against threats posed by Sout...
Ex-Trump official warns former colleagues that they're defying the Capitol riot probe at their own peril
Speaking to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace on Monday, former Trump official Miles Taylor warned his one-time colleagues against defying the Capitol riot committee -- and especially singled out former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, whom he said was attempting to use his position at the DOJ to justify a coup d'etat.
"Jeffrey Clark was stirring up the department to turn against the government it was set up to serve," Wallace agreed. "He was plotting a coup and putting together the pieces, including overturning the result of an election. Do you think someone like Clark should be retaining lawyers for other legal issues he may face?"
Taylor said he hoped that Clark was smart enough to hire a top legal team, but what he's seen from most of the former Trump advisers is that they're doubling down on being defiant, even though the Jan. 6 committee has proved that it isn't messing around, he said.
"I mean, they are taking the subjects to the mat and making sure that the law is enforced," said Taylor. "Congress's ability to subpoena someone and interview them is one of its most crucial oversight powers. If that oversight power is undermined, it fundamentally undermines the checks and balances. And whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you shouldn't want that to be the case. People like Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark — they are going to pull every legal trick in the book to prevent their cases from going forward. That's their right. Everyone in this country gets due process."
He went on to call for "rational Republicans" willing to fight for America.
Wallace pushed back, saying that she doesn't believe there are many of those left.
"The disinformation has already permeated and rotted to its base from its roots -- the grassroots, literally, of the party, all way to its highest leaders, Kevin McCarthy. I think, if — you talk about decent Republicans, I count two," she said. "Only two! We started with Adam Kinzinger. The right has already predetermined what they are going to do about this."
Taylor agreed, saying that the Republican Party looks like "The Walking Dead" at this point.
Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said that she is worried at how slow the Justice Department is going when it comes to people at the highest levels of power who attempted to overturn the election and unmake American democracy simply because they didn't like the result.
"My message to the Department of Justice is 'Get on it!'" she exclaimed. "Do not act like feds here. Act like state prosecutors. Go fast! Do not take the time -- don't give the other side a month to answer a pleading. Go to the judges. We saw this Supreme Court go quickly when they wanted to hear the Texas case."
See the full discussion below:
"Rational Republicans" are like "The Walking Dead" www.youtube.com
Jack Dorsey announced today plans to step down as head of Twitter. That prompted Candace Owens to say the following: “I’ve been telling people for years. Jack Dorsey is not your enemy. He is a prisoner at his own company. Good thing the Parler app is finally working properly and looks amazing. The communists will fully run Twitter soon.”
If you don’t already know Candace Owens, all you need to know is that she’s a koshering virtuoso. Like some Jewish people who make anti-Semitism seem respectable, Owens, who is Black, makes white supremacy seem fine and dandy. She appears to think Jack Dorsey had been some kind of bulwark against liberal sensibilities. Now that he’s leaving, she said, “the communists will fully run Twitter soon.”
I don’t care what Owens thinks about anything. Neither should you. Every word she says -- including “a” and “the” -- is a variety of bad faith. Even hyping Parler is deceptive. Authoritarians can’t succeed on the margins of media and society, where Parler is. To sabotage their enemies, they must appear as respectable as a Black woman koshering white supremacy. By blaming the “communists,” Owens is reminding followers of what they already believe true: they are the real victims.
While I don’t care about Owens, and neither should you, we should care about the use of the right’s rhetoric of slander, of which the word “communist” has long played a part in American history. Liberals and progressives first looked to the government as a force of social reform in the early 20th century. Around that time, the Russian Revolution occurred (1917). Since then, the American right has smeared liberals by associating their policies and objectives with godless communism.
The history of the rhetoric of slander is so pernicious it’s hard, if not impossible, for a lot of (white) Americans to see what might be obvious otherwise. When the right accuses liberals of being communist (or socialist), they are covering up the common purpose they share with actual communists. Both factions are collectivist. Both are implacable. Both aim to replace the established order. Both regard the process of democratic reform as liberal decadence requiring the purifying violence of revolution. The difference is origins. Communism is mob rule arising from the left. Fascism is mob rule arising from the right.
That such slander is so pernicious as to prevent most (white) Americans from seeing what might be obvious otherwise means there’s an opportunity for international media outlets to say what needs saying. Such is the case for The Globalist. Though based in Washington, the publication takes an international view of economics, politics and culture in order to inform readers “how the world hangs together.”
And as far as I know, editor Stephan Richter, who is German, and senior editor Alexei Bayer, who is Russian, are the only writers to connect the Republican Party and the Russian Revolution. In a piece posted this month, they said: “The parallels between the Leninist power usurpation in early 20th century Russia and the Trumpian brigades in today’s United States are becoming ever more eerie.”
Nothing in modern Western history has ever come so close to the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg as the events of January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC, when a riotous mob stormed the US Capitol. Ironically, these forces were out to preserve the rule of their “Czar”, Donald Trump, who had been defeated for re-election.
Most Americans associate mobs with the left on account of the right aggressively slandering the left for decades. Bayer and Richter, both of whom lived under the shadow of the Soviet Union, know better. While “the mob on the left also showed up in the summer of 2020 [and] turned legitimate protests against police brutality into a violent mob bacchanal,” they wrote, it’s the people ready to accuse the Democratic Party of being a den of communists who are the true heirs of chaos.
“The mainstream Democratic Party has denounced those riots,” Bayer and Richter wrote on Nov. 6. “Meanwhile, the Republican Party has transformed itself into the Party of Trump and therefore into the Party of Mob Rule. It is channeling its inner Leninist and baiting the mob.”
[The Democrats] passed an infrastructure bill and are proposing many long overdue measures to improve the lives of ordinary people. To this end, they are offering better health care, services for the elderly and educational assistance. Meanwhile, their Republican “colleagues” are stirring hatred in the mob toward all those measures — just like Lenin did back in 1917.
It’s an imperfect analogy. Like I said, the GOP is mob rule arising from the right. It seeks to maintain, to the point of open warfare, the hierarchies of power by which rugged white individuals stand on top. Lenin and his revolutionaries were mob rule arising from the left. They sought to flatten Russian society to the point of wholesale murder.
That it takes, however, an international media outlet that sees American politics from a European perspective to point out the similarities between them is instructive. The right’s rhetoric of slander has such a hold on Americans, most can’t see what’s in front of them.
Little is known at this point about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 that is causing worldwide panic and last week's stock market crash — except that it's a reminder of the importance of people getting vaccinated. Vaccination can help prevent such variants from evolving in the first place, and vaccinated people are probably still much safer than unvaccinated people in the face of the variant. As President Joe Biden's office told the press, his top infectious disease advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci "continues to believe that existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of Covid."
Vaccines save lives and are the best path forward to ending the pandemic and returning to normal. Despite this — or really, because of this — Republicans not only continue to sabotage efforts by the Biden administration to get the public vaccinated, but are doubling down on the sabotage.
As Axios reported Monday morning, the concerted efforts to keep shots from going in arms have escalated in red states, with Republican politicians now openly bribing constituents not to get vaccinated. "Republican officials around the country are testing a creative mechanism to build loyalty with unvaccinated Americans while undermining Biden administration mandates: unemployment benefits," the short piece explains. "Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have changed their unemployment insurance rules to allow workers who are fired or quit over vaccine mandates to receive benefits."
Since early spring, a number of commentators — including myself — have been pointing out that Republican politicians and media are deliberately undermining Biden's pandemic response by convincing their base to reject the vaccines. The reason isn't particularly mysterious. Republicans understand that if death rates remain high, the economic recovery remains stagnant, and unpleasant mitigation measures like mask mandates and school shutdowns continue into 2022, a pandemic-weary public is going to start blaming the guy in charge for not doing more to fix the situation.
But still, there are many who simply refuse to believe that Republicans could be that sinister, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
In August, Jonathan Chait of New York magazine scoffed that "Republican covid denialism is idiocy, not a plot." He continues to insist on this take, tweeting Sunday that to argue otherwise is overrating "the intelligence of the Republican party base." This is an incoherent argument, as Crooked Media editor Brian Beutler pointed out, as it requires believing that gullible people are somehow impervious to manipulation, when "easy to manipulate" is literally what defines gullibility.
But even the New York Times, which has a long-standing habit of refusing to accept the depths of depravity Republicans will sink to, is facing up to this grim reality. Last week, Jonathan Weisman reported that "Republicans have hit on a new line of attack" — blaming Biden for the pandemic — even though it's Republicans who "spent months flouting mask ordinances and blocking the president's vaccine mandates."
Breaking things and then blaming Democrats for things being broken is a long-standing GOP political strategy. It works because, as Paul Krugman of the New York Times recently explained, voters "tend to support the incumbent party when things are going well, oppose it if things are going badly." So, when the GOP is out of power, they do what they "can to make bad things happen," knowing Democrats will be blamed. So it has been on the economy, and so it is on the pandemic.
Now there's a scary new variant that could prolong the pandemic, and many Republicans can barely hide their glee.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas continues to bash Dr. Fauci, tweeting on Sunday that he's "an unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans," and spreading a repulsive conspiracy theory insinuating that Fauci somehow had a hand in creating the virus. "I'm just going to do my job and I'm going to be saving lives and they're going to be lying," Dr. Fauci said in response to GOP conspiracy theories about him — theories clearly meant to undermine his authority when he continues to advocate for vaccination.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia also doubled down on vaccine discouragement in response to the Omicron variant, insisting that the horse deworming drug ivermectin is the real solution. She even encouraged her followers to sue hospitals for COVID-19 deaths because doctors won't prescribe this useless drug. That's the modern GOP in a nutshell: First, get people killed by telling them to refuse vaccines, and then blame the only people who actually tried to save those lives for the deaths.
That this is a deliberate strategy and not just idiocy was confirmed yet again over the weekend through the actions of Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who gave two separate interviews — one on Fox News and one on CNN — where she offered extremely different claims about the vaccine. For her Fox New audience, Mace claimed "natural immunity gives you 27 times more protection against future COVID than a vaccination." On CNN, while trying to hoodwink the Jonathan Chaits of the world into thinking Republicans aren't that bad, she claimed she wanted people to get vaccinated.
And Donald Trump Jr., always ready to be the sweaty id of the GOP, went on Fox News and praised the anti-vaccine rioters in Europe, claiming they're standing up for "freedom." In reality, it has little to do with freedom and more to do with far-right groups in Europe spreading the same conspiracy theories about the vaccine as the right in America does.
This is the same GOP that has supported Donald Trump despite his attempted coup and instigating a violent riot on the Capitol. Indeed, this is the same party that, inspired by Trump, is rewriting election laws and reorganizing election boards to make it far easier for Trump to succeed when he tries to steal the 2024 election. They care not one bit about this country or its people, just their own pursuit of power. So of course the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, which could kill way more people, isn't giving them any pause.
The Republican strategy now is what it has been for months: Encourage the base to reject vaccination and to spread COVID-19, with the hopes that a weary public will blame Democrats and punish them at the ballot box in the 2022 midterms. The frightening thing is the GOP's nakedly pro-COVID strategy may very well work, especially if this new variant draws out the pandemic for that much longer.