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IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 15, 2021 at 12:05 am

On October 2,  2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that ruled Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer had no authority to issue or renew executive orders relating to Covid-19 beyond April 30.

On October 12, the Republican-dominated Court denied Whitmer’s request to delay the effect of an opinion that ruled her stay-at-home executive orders on the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional.

In its order, the Court wrote: “Our decision today….leaves open many avenues for our Governor and Legislature to work together in a cooperative spirit and constitutional manner to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Major cases likely to be decided by Michigan Supreme Court this week | Michigan Radio

Michigan Supreme Court

This ignored the fact that Whitmer faced an openly hostile Republican legislature—whose members acted in lockstep with the agenda of President Donald Trump. 

The Court also ignored that without significant changes in popular behavior—such as those mandated by Whitmer’s stay-at-home and wear-a-mask-in-public orders—the Coronavirus would run rampant through the state.

On November 16, Whitmer accused Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature of offering no answers for how to combat a new surge in COVID-19.

“When I see the criticisms, it just doesn’t seem particularly serious because they haven’t done anything and they haven’t offered up anything. In fact, I think that they have recklessly endangered their colleagues and all of you.”  

Essential credit union employees in Mich. eligible for education perks | Credit Union Journal | American Banker

Gretchen Whitmer

“The Senate Republicans still have faith in our fellow citizens and encourage them to protect themselves and others by adhering to the practices we know can help combat the spread of this insidious virus: washing hands, maintaining distance, and wearing a mask when it’s appropriate,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. 

This ignored the reality that, without significant penalties for irresponsible behavior, those who complied with such precautions would be at the mercy of those who refused to do so.

On March 11, 2021, the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate authorized a lawsuit against Whitmer, setting up a potential legal fight over millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds tied to limits on the administration’s power.

The lawsuit seeks to limit the state Department of Health and Human Services’ epidemic orders to 28 days and shift decisions on school closures from the state department to local health agencies.

Whitmer opposes the bills. 

It “defies common sense that the Legislature would try to block money from going to schools to help children learn in-person safely,” said Bobby Leddy, Whitmer’s spokesman.

“Governor Whitmer will do everything she can to ensure that funding is available to families, small businesses, schools and communities across the state because we can’t afford to wait.”

Michigan’s surge is a combination of two factors: The spread of the B.1.1.7 variant combined with people refusing to “mask up,” socially distance and keep businesses closed until enough residents are vaccinated. 

It takes about two weeks after the Pfizer and Moderna second doses and about two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before people are immune. Meanwhile, the incubation period, which is the time from when you are exposed to when you are infected with coronavirus, is four to five days.

With the administration of President Joe Biden ramping up COVID vaccinations as that of Trump never did, Whitmer has pressed for more vaccine doses.

But on April 12, 2021, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that wouldn’t solve the problem:

“When you have an acute situation, extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response.

“The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down.”

Which is precisely what the Republican-dominated Michigan legislature fervently opposes.

On January 28, 2021, House Speaker Jason Wentworth said his caucus wanted students back in classrooms as quickly as possible. And Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey criticized a 25% capacity limit Whitmer’s administration had put in place for restaurants and bars once they reopened for indoor dining on February 1.

By January 28, 83,240 Americans had died of COVID, surpassing the previous record set in December, 2020, of 77,486 deaths.

And what is happening in Michigan—the premature re-opening of businesses and the widespread refusal of citizens  to mask-up and socially distance—is happening throughout the rest of the United States. 

As a result, “The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different,” warns a March 30 story in The Atlantic.  Its sub-headline states: “A deadlier and more transmissible variant has taken root, but now we have the tools to stop it if we want.”

Several governors—such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas—have thrown caution to the winds and refused to mandate mask wearing and social distancing. In doing so, they have condemned untold numbers of their fellow citizens to an early death.

Other governors—such as Gretchen Whitmer and Andrew Cuomo of New York—have aggressively fought COVID-19 with all the weapons at their command. 

When the history of the COVID epidemic is written, it is the latter who will be remembered as heroes in a time of fear and loss.

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 14, 2021 at 12:23 am

From the moment Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued her stay-at-home order to stem the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, she became a target for President Donald Trump.

On September 29, Trump faced off with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first of three scheduled Presidential debates.

When Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, moderator Chris Wallace challenged him to do so. 

“What do you want me to call them?” asked Trump. “Give me a name.”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a violent Right-wing group.

Trump’s response: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a Right-wing problem.” 

President Trump's Proud Boys comments stir up Kalamazoo residents | WWMT

Donald Trump

On October 8, 2020, 13 Right-wingers were arrested and charged in a terrorism plot to kidnap Whitmer. The terrorists intended to overthrow several state governments that they “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Six of the would-be kidnappers were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven others associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state. 

Interviewed on TV that afternoon, Whitmer said: “I knew this job would be hard, but I’ll be honest, I never could’ve imagined anything like this.

“Just last week, the President of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“‘Stand back and stand by,’ he told them….Hate groups heard the President’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.” 

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Bond unlikely for suspects in Whitmer kidnapping case

Right-wing suspects in Whitmer kidnapping plot

Their chief grievance: Whitmer’s stay-at-home order to control the fast-moving spread of Coronavirus throughout Michigan. By no small coincidence, that happened to be the theme of Trump’s attacks on her.

The FBI learned of the plot in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals. Agents persuaded a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with about 16 plotters.

“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to a complaint. 

Needing reinforcements, one of the conspirators, Adam Fox, contacted a Michigan-based militia group.

”…Fox said he needed ‘200 men’ to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, said the criminal complaint.

Fox said they would kidnap and try Whitmer for “treason” before the November 2020 elections.

The verdict could only have been death.

On June 20, the conspirators met at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids. 

FBI agent injured in fatal Dexter crash - mlive.com

The FBI seal

The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump’s followers would assault the United States Capitol Building—to stop the counting of Electoral College votes certain to elect former Vice President Joe Biden over Trump.

In a video Fox live-streamed to a private Facebook group, he complained about the judicial system and the state of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.

During one meeting, Fox said: “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it’s over.” 

“Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap [shoot] her,” one of the men said in an encrypted group chat.

Trump’s response to the kidnapping plot swiftly followed: “Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” he tweeted. “She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

In an interview on CNN on October 8, Whitmer said: “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’” 

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately to express his sympathy after the announcement of the failed plot.

“I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.”

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

Joe Biden

Having escaped death, Whitmer soon suffered a major defeat.

On October 2,  the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that ruled Whitmer had no authority to issue or renew executive orders relating to Covid-19 beyond April 30.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution,” Whitmer responded in a statement.

“Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.”

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 13, 2021 at 12:16 am

On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread calamities inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33. This declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across Michigan.

By April 8, 2020, COVID-19 had infected 20,346 Michigan residents and claimed 959 lives. As a result, on April 9, Whitmer reaffirmed and extended the measures set forth in Executive Order 2020-21. Her order stated:

  • Michigan residents must stay at home or at their place of residence.
  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household were prohibited.
  • All individuals who leave their home or place of residence must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.

On April 9, Whitmer extended the anti-Coronavirus measures set forth in her March 10 Executive Order 2020-4. Among these:

  • No person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations that require workers to leave their homes or places of residence unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.
  • “Essential workers” were defined as those “necessary to sustain or protect life.”

KXAN Austin

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Individuals were allowed to leave their home and travel as necessary to:

  • Engage in outdoor physical activity, so long as they stayed at least six feet from people from outside their own household.
  • Perform their jobs as critical infrastructure workers after being so designated by their employers.
  • Perform necessary government activities.
  • Obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members, their pets, and their vehicles.
  • Care for minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Visit an individual under the care of a health care facility, residential care facility, or congregate care facility.
  • Attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
  • Work or volunteer for businesses or operations that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for those who are poor, disabled, or suffering because of the COVID-19 emergency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders that banned large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Yet President Donald Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders. On April 17 he issued a series of tweets to his supporters:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” 

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states had Democratic governors—and had been targeted for Right-wing protests. Large numbers of men and women stood closely together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claimed their “freedoms” were being infringed upon.

Whitmer, who had defied the Republican legislature by extending her stay-at-home order, was denounced as a Nazi, with protesters displaying signs like “Heil Whtmer.” 

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

On April 30, a protest at the Michigan Capitol Building featured treasonous Confederate flags and hangman’s nooses. Some signs displayed swastikas. Many of the demonstrators were armed with AK-47s.

That protest was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a group co-founded by a GOP state representative and his wife, who was on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called Women for Trump and was also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another event promoter, Greg McNeilly, was a longtime political adviser to the wealthy DeVos family, which included Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater mercenary group.

On May 1, Trump aimed a tweet at Whitmer: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

Also on May 1, demonstrators—many of them heavily armed—again descended on the state capital in Lansing, protesting Whitmer’s extension of her emergency declaration that kept some businesses closed amidst the plague. And, once again, President Trump sided with the protesters.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee tweeted: “The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. “His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve see it before.”

Trump had two hidden agendas for ending “stay-at-home” orders.

First, from the moment he took office on January 20, 2017, he had claimed credit for a booming economy—even though this was largely the creation of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Now, with thousands of businesses closed because of Coronavirus, that economy was essentially dead. 

Trump knew that Presidents who preside over faltering economies usually don’t win a second term. And Trump not only lusted to win a second term but—as he had repeatedly “joked”—become “President-for-Life.”

Second, Trump was desperate to return to his Nuremberg-style rallies. There he could hurl insults at virtually everyone and bask in the fanatical worship of his followers. These rallies acted as fuel to his campaign.

IN MICHIGAN, STUPIDITY RULES, COVID-19 REIGNS: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 12, 2021 at 12:08 am

Michigan is now battling the biggest surge of new COVID-19 cases in the nation.

The state has surpassed 100,000 active COVID-19 cases in the last week, the highest number since mid-November. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan’s COVID-19 infection rate as No. 1 in the country—with 492.1 positive infections per 100,000 people.

Hospitals throughout Michigan are reporting a 30% increase in hospital admissions over the past week.

The culprit seems to be the B-117 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, a more deadly and transmissible mutant comprising 70% of new coronavirus cases in Michigan, according to state and CDC data. 

The state has the highest number of U.K. variant cases in the nation, according to the CDC.

Contributing to the meltdown: The refusal of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to roll back already loosened regulations for reopening the state, which now allows for 50% in-door dining at restaurants and public schools to reopen for in-class learning.

Seal of Michigan.svg

State Seal of Michigan

During an April 9 news conference, Whitmer urged residents to avoid indoor dining for two weeks and for high schools to consider going back to virtual learning for two weeks.

“To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates, or requirements. A year in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Whitmer said.

“There’s light at the end of this tunnel, but the recent rise in cases is a reminder that we are still in the tunnel. That’s the nature of this virus, the second we let our guard down it comes roaring back.”

Whitmer had previously issued stringent stay-at-home orders and urged Michigan residents to wear masks when they ventured out in public. This won her opposition from the Republican-dominated legislature and President Donald Trump—and even made her the target of a Right-wing kidnapping plot.

On October 8, 2020, the FBI arrested 13 people for that plot.

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven other people, associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state.  

“The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a press conference.

Whitmer had become a major target of President  Trump in March, 2020,. when she tried to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies for Michigan hospitals coping with a flood of Coronavirus cases.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

On March 26, during an interview on Fox News, Trump blamed the failures of his administration’s response to Coronavirus on Democratic state governors like Andrew Cuomo (NY), Jay Inslee (WA), and Gretchen Whitmer (MI).

On March 27, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—officially in charge of the White House’s Coronavirus response effort—to not call Inslee and Whitmer because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts.

Trump said this even as hospitals in each of their states were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

“I tell him—I mean I’m a different type of person. I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor in Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan,’” Trump said. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

Echoing French King Louis XIV’s boast, “I am the State,” Trump said that when people criticized him, they were criticizing the federal government: “When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA.  It’s not right.”

Trump also attacked Whitmer on Right-wing Fox News’ “Sean Hannity Show”: “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

That same day—March 27—Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

On March 10, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan. 

In the three weeks that followed, the virus spread across Michigan, bringing deaths in the hundreds, confirmed cases in the thousands, and deep disruption to the state’s economy, homes, and educational, civic, social, and religious institutions.

On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread calamities inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33. This declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across Michigan.

BURYING TRUMP–AND STALIN: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 15, 2021 at 12:10 am

Fifty-nine years ago, a Russian congress came face-to-face with the legacy of a ruthless dictator.

For almost 30 years, from 1924 to 1953, Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili—better known as Stalin—had ruled as absolute dictator over the Soviet Union. Hallmarks of his legacy included mass arrests, repeated purges, forced mass starvation and the imprisonment of millions. As many as 20 million men, women and children died as his victims. 

His reign of terror ended only with his death, of a cerebral hemorrhage, on March 5, 1953, at age 74. 

Joseph Stalin

As historian Robert Payne wrote in his monumental 1965 biography The Rise and Fall of Stalin: “The son of an obscure cobbler, he had become during the last years of his life the most powerful man on earth. No emperor had ever enjoyed the power he possessed.

“He had taken the world by the throat, and forced it to do his will. He was one of the world-shakers, and when he died in 1953 it was thought proper that his remains should be exhibited as an object of reverence and worship in the Lenin mausoleum, the holy of holies of the Soviet empire.”

On February 25, 1956, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, revealed Stalin’s litany of crimes to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The speech was the opening shot in Khrushchev’s “de-Stalinization” campaign. He intended to destroy the image of the late dictator as an infallible leader and rein in the infamous KGB secret police. 

The speech gave rise to a period of liberalization known as the “Khrushchev thaw” (1956-1964). During this, censorship policy was relaxed, and for the first time books and articles appeared about the huge network of forced labor camps set up by Vladimir Lenin and reaching its peak under Stalin.   

File:Khrushchov.jpg - Wikipedia

Nikita Khrushchev

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Thousands of political prisoners were released, and thousands more who had perished during Stalin’s reign were officially “rehabilitated.”

By 1961, Khrushchev and those seeking to reform the Soviet political system decided to condemn the horrors of the Stalinist decades in a forceful symbolic act.

On October 31, 1961, the body of Joseph Stalin was removed from its honored resting place in the Lenin mausoleum in Red Square. A new grave was dug for him—among the minor heroes of the Russian Revolution. The re-internment took place secretly—at night—without ceremonies. And his name was removed from the mausoleum. 

Historian Robert Payne described that event—and its significance: “A dead god was being transformed into a dead man, a dead emperor was being dethroned, a dead criminal was being executed….

The rise and fall of Stalin: Robert Payne: Amazon.com: Books

“But more than a ritual murder was at stake. The Supreme Soviet and the Central Committee, which decreed the punishment now being inflicted on the corpse of Stalin, were now attempting to absolve themselves from responsibility for his crimes. 

“They were saying: ‘We are not responsible, we are casting him away, he is not one of us! He committed such terrible crimes that we will have none of him.’

“For nearly thirty years Stalin had ruled tyrannically over Russia. History, too, was being consigned to oblivion.” 

A series of similar events has erupted within the United States since January 6.

On that day, thousands of Right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump—ignited by his fiery, lie-riddled rhetoric—overwhelmed police guarding the United States Capitol and occupied the building.

Donald Trump

Their intention: To halt the counting of Electoral College votes that would certify former Vice President Joseph Biden as the next President of the United States.

Americans who held that site sacred as the cradle of democracy were horrified to see rioters:

  • Breaking windows and battering down doors;
  • Beating police with fire extinguishers and an American flag pole; 
  • Carrying treasonous Confederate flags in the Capitol;
  • Stealing treasures (such as the podium used by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and
  • Forcing members of Congress to crouch under chairs as police fought off rioters.

Since then, Trump’s fortunes have sharply declined:

  • Twitter—whose platform he had used during his Presidency to ruthlessly attack hundreds of people—finally cut off his account.
  • A series of Cabinet officials hurriedly resigned from his administration. Among these: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
  • Deutsche Bank, his business lender since the 1990s, announced that it would not continue to do business with him.
  • The PGA of America cut ties with Trump by canceling plans to hold the PGA Championship at his New Jersey golf course in 2022.
  • And on January 13—one week to the day after his Stormtrumpers attacked the Capitol Building—the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for the second time during his Presidency. No other President has ever suffered such a humiliation.
  • Adding to this humiliation: Ten Republican House members voted to impeach him.

Herodotus, the Greek historian who chronicled the Greek-Persian wars, offers a still-timely explanation of such reverses of fortune—and a warning for those who dare to ignore history:

“Look to the end, no matter what it is you are considering. Often enough God gives a man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him.”

BURYING TRUMP–AND STALIN: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 14, 2021 at 12:08 am

On January 13, for the first time in its history, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach a President—for the second time during his tenure.

On December 10, 2019, Democratic leaders in the House voted to send two Articles of Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee.

Their purpose: To remove Donald J. Trump from office as the 45th President of the United States.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler read the charges:

Article 1: Abuse of Power: For pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by damaging former Vice President Joseph Biden, his possible Democratic rival.

Article 2: Obstruction of Congress: For obstructing Congress by blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.

On January 23, 2020, House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted a prophecy—and a warning: “Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.” 

Adam Schiff official portrait.jpg

Adam Schiff

On February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

Schiff’s prophecy came true on January 6, 2021. On that day, Trump unleashed thousands of Right-wing terrorists on the United States Capitol.

Inside, members of Congress were tabulating the Electoral College votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election.

The winner had been former Vice President Joseph Biden. Trump, seeking a second term, had lost, getting 74,196,153 votes.to 81,255,933 for Biden.

Trump had made repeated—and false—claims of electoral fraud. Yet despite filing 60 court cases seeking to overturn the election’s results, his lawyers had failed to produce any proof of it.

Trump had often “joked” about how great it would be for the United States to have a “President-for-Life”—like China.  Now his only hope of remaining in power lay in intimidating Congress into ignoring the election results.

Inspired by Trump’s violence-charged rhetoric, the Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside outnumbered Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes.
  • A Capitol Hill police officer was knocked off his feet, dragged into the mob surging toward the building, and beaten with the pole of an American flag.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages. Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” often rang out.
  • Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C. 
  • Members of the House and Senate huddled anxiously behind locked doors barricaded with furniture as seditionists tried to break in.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

Meeting again that evening, members of the Senate and House resumed their vote-counting. In the end, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were named, respectively, the President-Elect and Vice-President Elect of the United States.

By the next day, members of the House—especially Democrats—were furious at their near-brush with death. And they were ready to seek retribution on the man responsible.

Their initial hope was that Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump’s cabinet would invoke the 25th Amendment. But hopes for this quickly faded.

A growing number of Cabinet officials began resigning:

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
  • Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf

There was a very real danger there wouldn’t be enough Cabinet members left to invoke the Amendment.  

But making the use of the Amendment even more unlikely was the obvious unwillingness of Vice President Pence to invoke it.

Official White House portrait of Mike Pence smiling. He wears a black suit, red tie, and an American flag lapel pin.

Mike Pence

This despite the fact that he could have been hanged as a “traitor” by the Stormtrumpers only days ago.

(He had likely been spared this fate by his Secret Service detail, whisking him out of the Senate—and leaving other government officials to their own fates.)

On January 11, Democrats introduced a single impeachment article charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in urging his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

They also introduced a resolution that called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove him from office before January 20.

On January 13, the House met to debate a single article of impeachment: “Incitement of Insurrection.” Its gist:

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.” 

Thus, the House sought to remove a President who intended to rule as a dictator.

Fifty-nine years earlier, a Russian congress had come face-to-face with the despotism of another tyrant.

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 29, 2020 at 12:12 am

From the beginning of his Presidency, Donald Trump has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism.

“The President always wants to pick a side, and he wants to pick the side that supports him,” said Miles Taylor, a former Homeland Security official in Trump’s administration. “But Donald Trump has created, in my opinion, the favorable conditions that have allowed these domestic terrorist groups to rise.

“The White House wanted to cover its eyes and wanted to cover its ears when it heard about domestic terrorism because they didn’t want to pay attention to the Right-wing extremists that they saw as a potential base of support.

“As a consequence, the President’s rhetoric has served as a loaded gun for those groups who have since taken his words as sort of permission to do what they’re doing.”

In April, thousands of Right-wingers gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to protest Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders shutting down most of the state. Many of them wore MAGA hats, waved Trump flags and/or brandished AK-47s and other semiautomatic weapons.

Trump and protesters pressure governors to start reopening the states

Trump-inspired Michigan protest

Some chanted “Lock her up!”-–echoing Trump’s call for the imprisonment of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

The protest was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a group founded by a pro-Trump state representative and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, who is on the advisory board for an official Trump campaign group called “Women for Trump” and is also the co-founder of Michigan Trump Republicans.

Another group that promoted the event, the Michigan Freedom Fund, is run by Greg McNeilly, a longtime political adviser to the DeVos family, who are prolific Republican donors and have funded conservative causes across the state for decades.

McNeilly was campaign manager for Dick DeVos, the husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, during his failed bid for governor in 2006.

Asked about the protesters, Trump said: “They’re suffering. They want to get back.” He dismissed the health risks of ignoring state orders and potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” he said. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion’s the same as just about all of the governors. Nobody wants to stay shut.”

One such protester was Melissa Ackison, the conservative Ohio state Senate candidate.

“It enrages something inside of you,” said Ackison of the stay-at-home orders issued by her own governor, Republican Mike DeWine. She has “no fear whatsoever” of contracting the virus, dismissing it as hype.

“As patriots, we put President Trump in office for a reason,” she said. “If he’s not able to give a convincing enough argument to these governors that they need to open up, then he needs to do something to take action.”

In short: This “states’ rights” maven would be fine if Trump forced governors to bring the states back on line.

Party foul: Local pastor running for state rep sued by state senate candidate

Melissa Ackison

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders that banned large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

Yet President Donald Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders. On April 17 he issued a series of tweets to his supporters:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states have Democratic governors—and had been targeted for Right-wing protests. Large numbers of men and women stood closely together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claimed their “freedoms” were being infringed upon.

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Donald Trump

On May 1, Trump tweeted in support of the Michigan demonstrators. Just as German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler blamed his opponents for the violence he stoked, so did Trump. Aiming his tweet at Whitmer, he wrote: “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely!  See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

In May, the protests at the Capitol continued, featuring signs with swastikas, Confederate flags and demonstrators who advocated for violence against Whitmer.

Also in May, a man was charged with threatening to kill Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Referring to government-ordered closures and social distancing measures, Homeland Security analysts recently warned: “Anti-government groups and anti-authority extremists could be motivated to conduct attacks in response to perceived infringement of liberties and government overreach.”

Polling places or voter registration events were “likely flash points for potential violence,” warned the analysts, adding that Right-wing extremists “have heightened their attention” to the election.

Election administrators throughout the United States are taking steps to prepare, with some directing staff to undergo training sessions on extremist group tactics and even preparing poll workers for the possibility of someone showing up armed.

Anticipating the worst, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on October 16 that residents will not be allowed to open-carry firearms “in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

On October 8, 13 Right-wing men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

At a press conference where the arrests were announced, Whitmer said: “Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“But why Governor Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

In a CNN interview on October 8, Whitmer said: “You know, the fact that after a plot to kidnap and to kill me, this is what they come out with. They start attacking me, as opposed to what good, decent people would do, [which] is to check in and say, ‘Are you OK?’”

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden telephoned her immediately after the announcement of the failed plot.

“I think that tells you everything that’s at stake in this election,” Whitmer said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the character of the two people on this ballot that we have to choose from in a few weeks.” 

Sleepy Joe : punchableface

 Joe Biden

Later on October 8—the date of the FBI arrests—Trump again attacked Whitmer in a series of tweets.

He falsely claimed she had called him a “White Supremacist” in her remarks earlier that day. And he whined that she did not thank him for saving her.

“Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job,” tweeted Trump. “She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

In another tweet, he demanded: “Open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Whitmer responded: “We know every time that this White House identifies me or takes a shot at me, we see an increase in rhetoric online, violent rhetoric, and so there’s always a connection and certainly it’s something that we’ve been watching. But this took it to a whole new level.

“I have raised this very issue with this White House and asked them to bring the heat down. I have asked leaders, Republican leaders in the state—let’s bring the heat down.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee squarely blamed Trump as responsible for the latest threat to Whitmer: “It is very unfortunate that she has been troubled not just directly by these threats, but a constant barrage of, frankly, incendiary criticism from the president, and I think that’s been very unfortunate.” 

“This shocking development is the most disturbing of the increasingly violent threats being made against Democratic governors by some of the most extreme and violent fringes of the Right,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

“Unless and until President Trump openly denounces such Right-wing extremism, groups like the Michigan Militia will continue to act as if they hold a permission slip from him to openly engage in such terrorist plots.”

On October 18, at a Trump campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan, the crowd chanted “Lock her up!” against Whitmer.  Trump smiled, chuckled and said, “Lock them all up.”

“It’s incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me—10 days after that was uncovered—the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Not only has Trump refused to show any compassion for Whitmer, he has shown a total indifference to prosecuting her would-be kidnappers—or in combating Right-wing terrorism.

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

“Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump claimed on September 2.

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Donald Trump

But he has shown no interest in combating Right-wing terrorism, despite warnings from the FBI, Congress and groups such as the Anti-Defamation League that track extremism. White House officials have tried to suppress use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” altogether.

Trump defended a caravan of his supporters who drove into Portland, Oregon, and fired paintball guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, calling them “peaceful protesters” and claiming they were using paintballs as “a defensive mechanism.”

And he has defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two people during another Black Lives Matters protest: “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 27, 2020 at 12:37 am

The FBI learned of the plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Needing reinforcements, one of the conspirators, Adam Fox, contacted a Michigan-based militia group.

”…Fox said he needed ‘200 men’ to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, said the criminal complaint.

Fox said they would kidnap and try Whitmer for “treason” before the November 2020 elections.

The verdict could only have been death.

On June 20, the conspirators met at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids. To ensure security, they entered the basement through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor. Attendees turned over their cell phones, which were brought upstairs to “prevent any monitoring.

Yet monitored they were—by an FBI informant among them.

FBI agent injured in fatal Dexter crash - mlive.com

The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles.

They planned to meet again during the first weekend of July and conduct firearms and tactical training.

In a video Fox live-streamed to a private Facebook group, he complained about the judicial system and the state of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.

Fox referred to Whitmer as “this tyrant bitch. I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.”

The FBI monitored the kidnapping plot throughout the summer as the target narrowed to the governor’s personal vacation home.

During one meeting, Fox said: “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the fuckin’ Governor. Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it’s over.” 

“Have one person go to her house. Knock on the door and when she answers it just cap [shoot] her,” one of the men said in an encrypted group chat.

Bond unlikely for suspects in Whitmer kidnapping case

Right-wing suspects in Whitmer kidnapping plot

The group spoke of a “baker” and a “cake,” which FBI agents interpreted as code words referring to explosive devices.

“I just wanna make the world glow, dude,” the affidavit quoted Adan Fox as saying in a profanity-laced tirade. “We’re gonna topple it all, dude”

The plotters surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home on two occasions in late August and September. Barry Croft and Fox discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the vacation home area.

In early October, Fox told others in the group that he had bought a taser for use in the kidnapping plot.

Fox, Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris and Kaleb Franks planned to meet on October 6 to pay for explosives and swap tactical gear.

But the FBI moved in first.

At least seven FBI field offices around the country took part, owing to the complexity of the operation and the likelihood the suspects could be armed and dangerous.

Agents were dispatched to execute search or arrests warrants at approximately a dozen sites. Arrest details included SWAT agents, technical exploitation personnel and evidence technicians.

Immediately after the FBI learned of the threat to Whitmer, its agents alerted her security detail. As a result, security around the governor was greatly tightened. The FBI continued to update the governor’s security detail on the investigation’s progress.

At a press conference on October 8, Whitmer stated:

“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”

US Marines charged in alleged kidnapping plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer - ABC7 Chicago

Gretchen Whitmer

A week earlier, on September 29, President Donald Trump had faced off with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first of three scheduled Presidential debates.

When Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, moderator Chris Wallace challenged him to do so.

“What do you want me to call them?” asked Trump. “Give me a name.”

Biden suggested the Proud Boys, a violent Right-wing group.

Trump’s response: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the Left, because this is not a Right-wing problem.”

Now, referencing Trump’s shout-out to the Proud Boys, Whitmer condemned the President’s action:

“Just last week, the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups.

“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. And they are complicit.”

But Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller attacked Whitmer for calling out the President.

“We’re all united standing against anyone who would conspire to cause such hatred and violence. And there is no place for that in American society in any way, shape, or form,” he said on Fox News.

“But why Gov. Whitmer would go and start attacking President Trump, this is just—people can see right through it. They can see that Governor Whitmer is a complete phony and it is just disgusting that she would take a moment of unity to attack the President.”

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON THE RIGHT: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 26, 2020 at 12:12 am

Donald Trump rode a wave of pure hatred into the White House. 

Trump had three major goals when he sought the Presidency:

  1. Obtain nearly absolute power;
  2. Obtain constant publicity; and
  3. Enrich himself even further. 

And he knew what his future constituents craved.

An August 30, 2017, article in Salon examined the base that Trump had appealed to—and captured. And it examined why that base supported him so fanatically: “Most Americans Strongly Dislike Trump, But the Angry Minority That Adores Him Controls Our Politics.”

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Donald Trump

It described these voters as representing about one-third of the Republican party:

“These are older and more conservative white people, for the most part, who believe he should not listen to other Republicans and should follow his own instincts….

“They like Trump’s coarse personality, and approve of the fact that he treats women like his personal playthings. They enjoy it when he expresses sympathy for neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate white supremacists.

“They cheer when he declares his love for torture, tells the police to rough up suspects and vows to mandate the death penalty for certain crimes. (Which of course the president cannot do.)

“…This cohort of the Republican party didn’t vote for Trump because of his supposed policies on trade or his threat to withdraw from NATO. They voted for him because he said out loud what they were thinking. A petty, sophomoric, crude bully is apparently what they want as a leader.”

Image result for Images of people giving the "Sieg heil" salute to Trump

Supporters giving the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute to Trump

“President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear,” read the theme of an October 3, 2018 story in The Atlantic: “The Cruelty Is the Point.”  

“The cruelty of the Trump administration’s policies, and the ritual rhetorical flaying of his targets before his supporters, are intimately connected,” wrote Adam Serwer. 

“We can hear the spectacle of cruel laughter throughout the Trump era. There were the border-patrol agents cracking up at the crying immigrant children separated from their families, and the Trump adviser who delighted white supremacists when he mocked a child with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother.

“There were the police who laughed uproariously when the president encouraged them to abuse suspects, and the Fox News hosts mocking a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre (and in the process inundating him with threats), the survivors of sexual assault protesting to Senator Jeff Flake, the women who said the president had sexually assaulted them and the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting.

“There was the president mocking Puerto Rican accents shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria, the black athletes protesting unjustified killings by the police, the women of the #MeToo movement who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, and the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting on Trump truthfully.

“It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump.”

So it was inevitable that, on October 8, 13 men were charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

Whitmer had become a major target of Trump in March, when she tried to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies for Michigan hospitals coping with a flood of Coronavirus cases.

On March 27, Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time” Trump was attacking her on Fox News for being “ungrateful.”

Six of the would-be kidnappers were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap. Seven others associated with the militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” were charged by the state. 

The scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects “believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Their chief grievance: Whitmer’s stay-at-home order to control the fast-moving spread of Coronavirus throughout Michigan. By no small coincidence, that happened to be the theme of Trump’s attacks on her.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The six charged by the federal government are Michigan residents Adam Fox, 37, Ty Garbin, 24, Kaleb Franks, 26, Daniel Harris, 23, Brandon Caserta, 32, and Delaware resident Barry Croft, 44.

The seven men charged by the state are Paul Bellar, 21, Shawn Fix, 38, Eric Molitor, 36, Michael Null, 38, William Null, 38, Pete Musico, 42, Joseph Morrison, 42.

They face a variety of firearm and terror charges. 

The FBI learned of the plot in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals, according to the federal criminal complaint.

The FBI persuaded a confidential informant to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.

“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions….Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to the complaint. 

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