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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Political Violence: The Lights Are Blinking Red

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Joan E. Greve at The Guardian:

The Gosar incident served as the latest data point in an alarming trend in American politics. In a year that began with a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, lawmakers have seen a sharp rise in the number of threats against them. Republicans’ muted response to Gosar’s behavior has intensified fears about the possibility of more political violence in America in the months to come.

Jackie Speier, the Democratic congresswoman who spearheaded the effort to censure Gosar, warned that Republicans’ refusal to hold him accountable could have dangerous repercussions.

“If you are silent about a member of Congress wanting to murder another member of Congress, even in a ‘cartoon’, you are inciting violence,” Speier told the Guardian. “And if you incite violence, it begets violence.”

That cycle is already playing out in the halls of Congress. The US Capitol police reported earlier this year that the agency had seen a 107% increase in threats against members compared with 2020. The USCP chief, Tom Manger, has said he expects the total number of threats against members to surpass 9,000 this year, compared with 3,939 such threats in 2017.

Some of those threats have been on vivid display in the past month. In addition to Gosar’s violent video, the 13 House Republicans who voted in support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier month have received threatening messages.

Representative Fred Upton of Michigan publicly shared one such message, in which a man called the Republican congressman a “fucking piece of shit traitor”. “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your fucking family dies,” the man said in the message.

And those kinds of threats are not reserved solely for members of Congress. Election workers and school board members also say they are receiving more violent messages. According to an April survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly one in three election officials are concerned about their safety while on the job.


 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Trump, Rittenhouse, and Violence

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Zach Beauchamp at Vox:

Immediately after Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on Friday, the fringe right’s online forums lit up with celebration — and among some, a belief that they too can kill without legal consequence. On Telegram, a secure messaging app popular with extremists, the leader of a neo-Nazi group wrote that the verdict gives “good Americans legal precedent and license to kill violent commies without worrying about doing life in prison if we defend ourselves in a riot.”

There is every reason to take such rhetoric seriously. “It has never taken more than a whisper of approval to fan the flames of militant right action. The Kenosha acquittal is a shout,” writes Kathleen Belew, a historian of white power movements at the University of Chicago. Based on how it’s been cheered in some quarters, the verdict is potentially setting the stage for future violence.

Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project shows that, between January 2020 and June 2021, there were 560 protest events where either demonstrators or counter-demonstrators showed up with guns — about 2 percent of all protests in the United States during the studied time period. The data also shows that these demonstrations are more than five times more likely to involve violent or destructive behavior as compared to unarmed ones.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Trump-Russia: Indisputable Facts

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracyRussia helped Trump through 2020.

 Recent revelations about the Steele Dossier are irrelevant to the basic facts of the Trump-Russia connection. David Frum writes at The Atlantic:

The factual record on Trump-Russia has been set forth most authoritatively by the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina. I’ll reduce the complex details to a very few agreed upon by virtually everybody outside the core Trump-propaganda group.
  1. Dating back to at least 2006, Trump and his companies did tens of millions of dollars of business with Russian individuals and other buyers whose profiles raised the possibility of money laundering. More than one-fifth of all the condominiums sold by Trump over his career were purchased in all-cash transactions by shell companies, a 2018 BuzzFeed News investigation found.
  2. In 2013, Trump’s pursuit of Russian business intensified. That year, he staged the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Around that time, Trump opened discussions on the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow, from which he hoped to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars, if the project advanced to completion,” in the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  3. Trump continued to pursue the Tower deal for a year after he declared himself a candidate for president. “By early November 2015, Trump and a Russia-based developer signed a Letter of Intent laying out the main terms of a licensing deal,” the Senate Intelligence Committee found. Trump’s representatives directly lobbied aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016. Yet repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, Trump falsely stated that he had no business with Russia—perhaps most notably in his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, in October 2016.
  4. Early in 2016, President Putin ordered an influence operation to “harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.” Again, that’s from the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
  5. The Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos “likely learned about the Russian active measures campaign as early as April 2016,” the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote. In May 2016, Papadopoulos indiscreetly talked with Alexander Downer, then the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, about Russia’s plot to intervene in the U.S. election to hurt Clinton and help Trump. Downer described the conversation in a report to his government. By long-standing agreement, Australia shares intelligence with the U.S. government. It was Papadopoulos’ blurt to Downer that set in motion the FBI investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a revelation authoritatively reported more than three years ago.
  6. In June 2016, the Trump campaign received a request for a meeting from a Russian lawyer offering harmful information on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. and other senior Trump advisers accepted the meeting. The Trump team did not obtain the dirt they’d hoped for. But the very fact of the meeting confirmed to the Russian side the Trump campaign’s eagerness to accept Russian assistance. Shortly after, Trump delivered his “Russia, if you’re listening” invitation at his last press conference of the campaign.
  7. WikiLeaks released two big caches of hacked Democratic emails in July and October 2016. In the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “WikiLeaks actively sought, and played, a key role in the Russian intelligence campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.”
  8. Through its ally Roger Stone, the Trump campaign team assiduously tried to communicate with WikiLeaks. Before the second WikiLeaks release, “Trump and the Campaign believed that Stone had inside information and expressed satisfaction that Stone’s information suggested more releases would be forthcoming,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In late summer and early fall 2016, Stone repeatedly predicted that WikiLeaks would publish an “October surprise” that would harm the Clinton campaign.
  9. At the same time as it welcomed Russian help, the Trump campaign denied and covered up Russian involvement: “The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort,” the Intelligence Committee found.
  10. In March 2016, the Trump campaign accepted the unpaid services of Paul Manafort, deeply beholden to deeply shady Russian business and political figures. “On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information” with a man the Intelligence Committee identified as a Russian intelligence officer. “Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services … represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the committee found. Through 2016, the Russian state launched a massive Facebook disinformation program that aligned with the Trump campaign strategy.
  11. At crucial moments in the 2016 election, Trump publicly took positions that broke with past Republican policy and served no apparent domestic political purpose, but that supported Putin’s foreign-policy goals: scoffing at NATO support for Estonia, denigrating allies such as Germany, and endorsing Britain’s exit from the European Union.
  12. Throughout the 2016 election and after, people close to Trump got themselves into serious legal and political trouble by lying to the public, to Congress, and even to the FBI about their Russian connections.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Burners

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Hunter Walker at Rolling Stone:
Some of the organizers who planned the rally that took place on the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6 allegedly used difficult to trace burner phones for their most “high level” communications with former President Trump’s team.

Kylie Kremer, a top official in the “March for Trump” group that helped plan the Ellipse rally, directed an aide to pick up three burner phones days before Jan. 6, according to three sources who were involved in the event. One of the sources, a member of the “March for Trump” team, says Kremer insisted the phones be purchased using cash and described this as being “of the utmost importance.”

The three sources said Kylie Kremer took one of the phones and used it to communicate with top White House and Trump campaign officials, including Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, who leads the family’s real-estate business; Lara Trump, Eric’s wife and a former senior Trump campaign consultant; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; and Katrina Pierson, a Trump surrogate and campaign consultant.
The member said a second phone was given to Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer’s mother and another key rally organizer. The team member said they did not know who the third phone was purchased for.

“That was when the planning for the event on the Ellipse was happening, she needed burner phones in order to communicate with high level people is how she put it,” the March For Trump team member tells Rolling Stone, referencing Kylie Kremer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pernicious Polarization

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Zack Beauchamp at Vox:
The new wave of threats is cresting on one side of the partisan divide. Generally, the individuals responsible seem to believe former President Donald Trump’s fraudulent claims about the 2020 election, oppose Covid-19 vaccines and masks, and claim schools are indoctrinating their kids with “critical race theory.”

This most likely reflects the way extreme polarization and Trumpian populism have convinced a segment of the population that their political opponents are not mere rivals but existential threats to American society. Political scientists, who have termed the spread of this us-versus-them mindset “pernicious polarization,” find that it has undermined the foundations of democracy in countries such as Hungary, Venezuela, and Turkey.

...

Start with election workers: For the past several months, Reuters reporters Linda So and Jason Szep have interviewed dozens of election administration officials across the country, compiled a database of more than 800 threats against them, and even unmasked some of the individuals responsible for the harassment. Their conclusion is unequivocal: The spate of threats is real, and a direct outgrowth of Trump’s campaign to undermine the 2020 election.
“The harassers expressed beliefs similar to those voiced by rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, trying to block Democrat Joe Biden’s certification as president,” So and Szep write. “Nearly all of the threateners saw the country deteriorating into a war between good and evil — ‘patriots’ against ‘communists.’ They echoed extremist ideas popularized by QAnon, a collective of baseless conspiracy theories that often cast Trump as a savior figure and Democrats as villains. Some said they were preparing for civil war.”

 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Rittenhouse Aftermath

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic:
The fact that Rittenhouse has become a folk hero among Republicans points to darker currents within the GOP, where justifications for political violence against the opposition are becoming more common. The party finds the apocalyptic fear of impending leftist tyranny useful not only for turning out its supporters, but also for rationalizing legislative attempts to disenfranchise, gerrymander, and otherwise nullify the votes of Democratic constituencies. Engineering the American political system so that Republicans’ political rivals are unable to contest their power is a less forceful solution than killing people, but the political goal is similar: to never have to share power with those they disagree with.

For this reason, the party defends those who engage in rhetoric threatening violence against their political enemies and silences those who denounce it. Whether it’s Donald Trump justifying his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Republican members of Congress threatening their colleagues, or Fox News hosts praising Rittenhouse for “doing what the government should have done,” the desire to kill your political opponents is a sentiment no longer confined to the dark corners of the internet. The principle that canonizes Rittenhouse as a saint for defending his city from rioters, and the mob that stormed the Capitol as martyrs, is the principle that the slaughter of the right’s enemies is no crime.


 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Leftward Lurch

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

Lloyd Green at The Daily Beast:
Virginia voters’ rejection of Terry McAuliffe’s claim that parents should not “be telling schools what they should teach” is a reminder that taxpaying parents are not bystanders to their children’s education. Two plus two equals four is an objective fact—few outside of academe believe the equation to be a construct engineered by an oppressive patriarchy. At the end of the day, there is hell to pay if the family checkbook or Wall Street’s ledgers don’t add-up.

Right now, the Democrats are looking flat-footed and tone-deaf. Nationally, they have vowed to push back “aggressively” against Republican charges that progressive school systems have made critical race theory and white privilege cornerstones of the educational experience. Skepticism is warranted as the Democrats struggle with the competing demands of their upstairs-downstairs coalition, one that is also forced to worry about what AOC is thinking.

Despite rising crime, the Biden administration has attacked cash bail in the name of racial equity. Just remember, it was South Carolina’s James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, who lamented the left wing of his party making “defund the police” their battle-cry.

Meanwhile, Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice is expected to offer a full-throated defense of race-based affirmative action before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Harvard admissions case. In case anyone forgot, California’s voters resoundingly rejected that path at the same time they were saying “no” to a second Trump term.
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As ever, culture counts. These days, just over half of Americans (52 percent) believe the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, but only 35 percent say the Republican Party has moved too far to the right. Right now, the Democrats need to wake up and smell the coffee: It’s burning.