Army Stopped National Guard From Rescuing Congress. What's 3 Hours And 19 Minutes When You're Under Attack?
We need answers, and we might need prosecutions.
There may be a Trump terrorist attack today at the Capitol.
That's according to a bulletin from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent to law enforcement warning that there's been chatter from domestic terrorist cells about "plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove Democratic lawmakers," either today or somewhere around today. Meanwhile, NBC News reports that the Capitol Police have intel that says there's a "possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group" today.
And if there is another attack, it will have been incited yet again by Donald Trump, because here's what's motivating the terrorists:
[The bulletin] states that domestic violent extremists have a continued "perception of election fraud and other conspiracy theories associated with the presidential transition, which may contribute to (Domestic Violent Extremists) mobilizing to violence with little or no warning."
Yep, they're still mainlining Trump's fascist Big Lie about the presidential election their big boy lost in a landslide.
So that's why the House was up late voting last night and isn't around today. For their own safety. Hooray, America!
What's the significance of today, March 4? Because that's the day America used to inaugurate presidents, and a long-running QAnon prophecy — it's at least several months old! — says somehow today is the day the REAL president Donald Trump is going to re-seize power and reveal himself as their one and true messiah, or something. We question their policework on that, but for some reason the Trump hotel in DC has kept its rates jacked way up around $1,300 a night, but just for last night and tonight. As Rachel Maddow reported last night, they checked yesterday, and the rates go right back down after tonight, and there's zero reason for hotel rates to be jacked up in DC right now. You know, unless they know something we don't about what's going on today.
So keep your eyes on the news, we guess! Oh right, that's what we're for.
Yesterday, the Senate heard testimony from Pentagon officials about the last Trump terrorist attack on the US Capitol, and we sure did learn some things, specifically from the testimony of Maj. Gen. William Walker, who commands the DC National Guard.
In his opening statement, we learn that the DC National Guard wrote to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on January 1 asking for support for the upcoming demonstrations. Walker got approval for most of what he asked for on January 5, with the distinct exception of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that would be "postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civilian authorities." McCarthy also said any plans for him to use the QRF would have to be submitted to him for special approval. Walker thought that was weird, that he'd have to get special permission from the Army secretary to use the QRF. Walker also thought it was weird that McCarthy was requiring him "to seek approval to move Guardsmen supporting [DC's Metropolitan Police Department] to move from one traffic control point to another."
Then January 6 came. At 1:49 p.m., Steven Sund, who was the chief of the Capitol Police, called Walker freaking out, "his voice cracking with emotion." The Capitol was under attack. Please send help, right now. Walker got in touch with Army leadership, and they got right on the task of approving that help — THREE HOURS AND 19 MINUTES LATER.
During the ensuing time, as we all know, people were dying, the vice president's life was in danger, members of Congress's lives were in danger, terrorists were screaming that they were looking for the vice president and the speaker of the House, to kill them, in an attempt to steal democracy for One Ugly Orange Shitbag they all worship as their Dear Leader.
Walker had already put guardsmen on buses, thinking approval would be coming any minute now, so when he finally got approval — THREE HOURS AND 19 MINUTES LATER — they were ready to go. They got there in less than 20 minutes.
During questioning, we learned a lot more about what all that delay was about. You see, Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn — brother of disgraced seditionist mouthbreather Michael Flynn, who had spent the preceding weeks flapping his treason-yap, filling Donald Trump's small brain with fantasies of declaring martial law to steal the election — was part of the Army leadership making decisions that day, serving as the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations. And poor thing was just really worried about the "optics" of sending in the National Guard, right in the middle of a Trump-inspired terrorist attack. That's right, the "optics."
Gen. Walker just testified that Gen. Charles Flynn and Gen. Piatt were the ones worried about "optics." WATCH Bac… https://t.co/y8G2swHNF6— Adam Klasfeld (@Adam Klasfeld)1614788112.0
What, praytell, kind of "optics" were they waiting for, that would have made it OK for the National Guard to come in and help in stopping a terrorist attack on the Capitol? Did elected officials, including maybe the vice president, need to actually get assassinated? Did they need to literally "hang Mike Pence"? Were they waiting for things to get bad enough for Trump to declare martial law, like Michael Flynn had been saying?
Pretty sure we want to hear from Charles Flynn under oath, from Ryan McCarthy, and from then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller — really, all the moron stooges Trump shoved in at the Pentagon after he lost the election. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans to reach out to Miller and McCarthy very soon, committee chair Senator Gary Peters said yesterday. Have fun hiding from congressional subpoenas now that the Trump Justice Department has been run out of town and Merrick Garland's about to be confirmed!
Just after the election, we wondered aloud what Trump's Pentagon moves were all about, asking specifically if he was entertaining masturbatory daydreams about getting a troupe of asslickers into Pentagon leadership craven and un-American enough to help him pull off his coup. "Maybe the president is indulging himself in grandiose fantasies of using the military to attack the American people in order to stay in power," we wrote. Or maybe the idea was that the military would not intervene when Trump's terrorists really started showing their asses.
We wrote that on November 11. Just under two months later, January 6 happened.
As Dana Milbank wrote yesterday:
At best, this was a catastrophic failure of government. At worst, political appointees and Trump loyalists at the Defense Department deliberately prevented the National Guard from defending the Capitol against a seditious mob.
We need fucking answers, and we probably are going to need prosecutions.
For more on yesterday's hearing, check out the Washington Post. We'll just be over here hoping and praying there isn't another Trump terrorist attack on the Capitol today.
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First they came for the lying hacks, and I said, 'About damn time.'
Twitter permanently suspended the account of James O'Keefe's rightwing disinformation operation "Project Veritas" (Latin for worm vomit on thin spaghetti) Thursday, saying the permaban was imposed for "repeated violations of Twitter's private information policy." Twitter also temporarily suspended O'Keefe's personal account, although that was back up Friday. For now. The suspension came almost a week after Twitter also banhammered Jim Hoft, aka the Gateway Pundit, aka The Stupidest Man On the Internet, for constantly tweeting lies about the 2020 election. If you thought Twitter stank a little less lately, that may be why.
O'Keefe's stock-in-trade almost always involves using hidden cameras to catch people saying something that can be spun — usually with deceptive editing — as scandalous proof of horrific crimes or media bias. But this time, the video that got Project LieALot in trouble featured one of their "reporters," Christian Hartsock, right out in the open, with a Project VeganButthole emblem on his mic, ambushing Facebook VP Guy Rosen as he returns home from jogging (his first name is Guy. For once we're not calling someone a VP guy). Hartsock had important journalism questions to ask Rosen about a leaked video in which Rosen said Facebook can "freeze" comments on posts containing "hate speech," which we guess is the latest thing wingnuts are panicking about. We're not going down that rabbit hole and you can't make us.
Hartsock wanted to know what Rosen meant by "hate speech" anyway, presumably because, like "racism" or "white supremacy" or "unethical reporting," it's such a vague term that no one can possibly know what it is, much less silence patriots for it. As Rosen ignores him completely, Hartsock asks, "How do you define hate speech? Is it just speech that you hate?" Ooh, sick burn.
Not that that has anything to do with why the video (brave snowflakes can see it here) prompted Twitter to swing the banhammer. O'Keefe showed The Wrap a form email he'd received that said, "You may not publish or post other people's private information without their express authorization and permission, although it didn't get more specific.
The problem appears to be that the video briefly shows the numbers on a pole (it's a Facebook post!) in front of Rosen's house, although the actual street isn't named, so we suppose O'Keefe & Company would claim that's not quite doxxing. (Weirdly, the video does blur out the license plates of any cars parked on the street, but not the home address.) Here's a screenshot; Yr Wonkette has pixelated the house numbers for Mr. Rosen's privacy, and Project Vanitas's URL because ew.
O'Keefe told The Wrap it was totally unfair, because
Reporters with microphones [and] cameras engage in reporting activities on the streets all the time in residential communities, so I'm trying to understand what Twitter considers violating their rules against posting private information. Does Twitter consider reporting information the public has a right to know private information? This is quite the Rubicon we're crossing if Twitter wants to ban this particular piece of information.
He also took to his reactivated Tweeter account to post a video from CNN of a reporter talking to a woman on the sidewalk in front of her home; and what about THAT, huh? (The woman's house number is briefly seen near the end, though not as prominently as in the shot of Rosen's home.)
Twitter suspended @Project_Veritas for “repeated violations of the companies anti-doxxing policies.” Also known in… https://t.co/VnJgjMDDpP— James O'Keefe (@James O'Keefe)1613101850.0
At least the video itself is amusing, with the woman refusing to accept that her Trump gathering was organized on Facebook by a Russian disinfo account, because there weren't any Russians at the Trumperware party and she doesn't even know any Russians.
We suppose O'Keefe might even have a point, of sorts: House numbers do sometimes get shown on TV. We don't know whether TV stations or the industry have actual rules bout that, but it seems reasonable you'd want to avoid it — like pixelating license plates. But O'Keefe is definitely arguing in bad faith when he suggests the public has any need to know Guy Rosen's house number. It's just not relevant to the "story."
We'd also note that Twitter is not an actual television station, and it gets to set its own policies. Was the privacy thing a mere pretext? We don't know — Twitter hasn't shared any specifics, but perhaps there were other, similar privacy details in other Project Victimhood videos.
For that matter, Twitter would certainly be on solid ground had it banned the group for violating its "civic integrity" policy, which was the reason it cited when it also permabanned the Stupidest Man on the Internet, Gateway Pundit perpetrator Jim Hoft, for repeatedly spreading lies about the election and fake allegations of "voter fraud." Gosh what a shame. Predictably, Gateway Pundit insisted, with the site's usual accuracy, that O'Keefe and Project Vertiginous had been banned "for exposing Facebook."
Given O'Keefe's penchant for continually presenting bullshit claims of "voter fraud" where there isn't any, that would have been a fine reason tor Twitter to have rid itself of his propaganda outlet, too. In September, a joint study by scholars at Stanford and the University of Washington discussed in detail how Project Veritas created and promoted a video about alleged ballot harvesting in Minnesota that "made several falsifiable claims that have either been debunked by subsequent reporting or are without any factual support," and concluded that the video "stands as an interesting example of what a domestic, coordinated elite disinformation campaign looks like in the United States." (The report is also really good reading for media nerds!)
We can't say we're really feeling a lot of sympathy for these poor sad liars who'll have to take their lies elsewhere. Probably that means we hate Freedom.
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Not a hero. He just had the right enemies sometimes.
Larry Flynt, the relentlessly self-promoting pornographer who liked to take credit for the entire First Amendment when he mostly just exploited it, died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 78. Jimmy Flynt, his brother, said he died of heart failure.
Flynt is mostly known for founding Hustler, the porn magazine that, unlike soft-focus predecessors like Playboy and Penthouse, made no pretensions to art, culture, or sophistication. Instead, Hustler was all about lurid, harshly lit, legs-spread photos of women, with gratuitous torture, rape, simulated snuff scenes, and full-on racism thrown in just in case simply being more explicit than other publications didn't manage to be shocking enough. Flynt liked to portray himself as a cultural rebel who opposed puritanism in all forms, and to be sure, he shocked plenty of puritanical souls. And if anyone pointed out that his magazine promoted contempt for and violence against women, he called those critics puritans too, and continued to be pleased with what a broad-minded guy he was.
Flynt is being remembered in some predictable corners (hello New York Times) as "an unlikely free speech hero," although his real talent was for pandering to the absolute basest tastes and then proclaiming himself a hero because, yes, the First Amendment really does protect even the most disgusting free expression that's at least not child porn, outright libel, or — worst of all in US America — copyright infringement.
The news of Flynt's death was met with a diversity of opinions, as this actual random pair of tweets illustrates:
Sometimes Flynt advanced causes adjacent to progressive ones, like opposing the death penalty for Joseph Paul Franklin, the racist who'd tried to assassinate Flynt in 1978 after being angered by Hustler's pictorials depicting interracial sex. Franklin also bombed a synagogue, and had been sentenced to death for murdering five people, including a mixed-race couple. Despite Flynt's opposition, Franklin was executed in 2013. Flynt was often lucky in being hated by people who managed to be even more awful than he was, which he pretended made him, if not a good guy, at least a scumbag who cared about important things, at least as long as they didn't get in the way of pandering to tastes that were several notches below the lowest common denominator.
You might want to leave aside the big news site obits and instead read this 2004 profile/interview by Robert Chalmers in The Independent, which reminds us that the guy sometimes lionized as a Guardian of the First Amendment made his millions by selling a magazine that treated degrading women as some kind of sexual liberation, including a feature depicting "a woman being shaved, raped, and apparently killed, in concentration-camp style surroundings," as well as "pictures of naked women trussed like turkeys and squashed in giant burger buns, or a girl being fed head-first into a mincer." Not to mention the hilarious image of "a housewife's vagina being used as a makeshift roach trap."
See? He was edgy.
And let's also not forget Hustler's casual, omnipresent racism, from the cartoons (Black men have huge cocks and like raping white women; Black women are promiscuous welfare-addicted crack whores; both are relentlessly criminal and horny) to the photo shoots. A 1998 academic paper argues that Hustler
draws from past regimes of racial representation and articulates a more contemporary myth that Black masculinity, having been allowed to run amok in the post-civil rights era, has finally rendered White men impotent, both sexually and economically.
Happily, there was no Twitter in 1998, so we'll assume there were relatively few death threats sent to the lady professor who wrote it.
Still, plenty of people were happy to treat Flynt as a free speech crusader, even though his interests were more about making money from porn than in advancing civil liberties. You gotta have free speech to publish the kind of shit he did. When Flynt was prosecuted for obscenity in 1977, Chalmers notes, a bunch of prominent liberals published a protest letter that literally compared Flynt to Soviet dissidents. The comparison wasn't entirely convincing to some.
The great American satirist Lewis Lapham originally signed the joint letter, then saw a copy of Hustler. Lapham immediately withdrew his name, saying that "I'm not sure this was quite what Jefferson had in mind."
Flynt's one concrete contribution to the cause of free speech resulted from a fake Campari ad in 1983, with a fake testimonial in which "Jerry Falwell" reminisced about losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse, with very humorous copy like "We were drunk off our God-fearing asses on Campari, ginger ale and soda - that's called a Fire and Brimstone," and "Mom looked better than a Baptist whore with a $100 donation."
Falwell sued for defamation, and in 1988, the Supreme Court upheld Americans' right to publish even the most outrageous parodies and satire, which is pretty good law that applied equally to high quality jokes about vegan baby buttholes and to the shit Flynt liked to publish, too. That cleared the way for such other First Amendment triumphs as 2 Live Crew's beating a copyright infringement suit for their Roy Orbison parody about a "big hairy woman."
Decades later, he was still quite proud of himself. In 2012, Flynt explained that a photoshopped image of TV pundit SE Cupp with a great big dick in her face was actually not sexist at all, because for one thing, it was part of a monthly series called "What Would (celebrity) Look Like with a Cock in Her/His Mouth," which had also featured some male celebrities, and it was clearly labeled as a fake parody. Also, he Flyntsplained, don't forget Larry Flynt is an outrageous flag-diapered First Amendment hero, you puritans!
"So critics, get a life," Flynt said. "Find another horse to beat. We don't know anything about Ms. Cupp's personal life, but we do know that oral sex is practiced by the majority of adult Americans, both male and female. The fact that the picture of Ms. Cupp has generated so much flap says more about the sexual repression of the American people than it does anything else. Oral sex is a normal and healthy practice."
Bravo to Lindy West, who took Flynt's brave defense of free speech exactly as seriously as it deserved:
Dude, you could have just yelled "FIRST AMENDMENT," farted theatrically, and then left it at that. No one needs your rhapsodizing about Bill Maher's purty mouth and how blowjobbery is woven into the fabric of America. I'm not even arguing with your argument. "First Amendment" is legit. You totally have the right to be terrible, and everyone else totally has the right to be bothered by it. Everybody wins. Jeez, go outside or something.
So goodbye to a guy who made a career of creating a safe space for all the very worst speech, and pretended that was a virtue instead of just one of the things we put up with in a free society. May he eternally enjoy being a footnote in constitutional law.
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Pretty sure that's called 'stolen valor?'
Anyone can go to clown school. I could go to clown school. You could go to clown school. But if you never actually work as a clown or register myself as a clown by painting your clown face on an official clown egg at the clown registry*, can you truly call yourself a clown?
Well, if you are Tom Cotton, you certainly can.
Sen. Tom Cotton sure has made a whole lot of his military career. It's pretty much his whole schtick. He went to Harvard Law School, joined a fancy New York firm and then left that fancy New York firm to join the Army, because of how much he believed in George W. Bush and his stupid, stupid war. One of the things he's talked a lot about — particularly during his senate run, was how very proud he was of being an Army Ranger.
But whoops! Turns out he was not, in fact, an Army Ranger. Not really, anyway.
Salon reports that Cotton "was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command," but merely attended Ranger school, a two month course that is open to anyone serving in the military. This, technically, gives him the "right" to call himself a Ranger, and to wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, but actual Rangers really don't like it when people do that.
And Tom Cotton did it over and over and over again.
Yet Cotton told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in February 2012: "My experience as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and my experience in business will put me in very good condition." The year before, he told Roby Brock of Talk Politics in a video interview that he "became an infantry officer and an Army Ranger." A Cotton campaign ad placed in the Madison County Record in May 2012 identifies Cotton as a "Battle-Tested Leader" who "Volunteered to be an Army Ranger."
Sen. Cotton lied about his experience in the Special Forces in order to give him an edge in his Senate race, but it's not just bloating your resume when you're talking about military service. It's stolen valor. Tom Cotton may have wanted to be an airborne ranger, living the life of guts and danger, but that was not to be his fate.
Rather than express some amount of contrition upon getting caught, Cotton's office doubled down and accused Salon reporter Roger Sollenberger of not being an Army Ranger either.
Cotton spokesperson Caroline Tabler told Salon in an email, "Senator Cotton graduated from Ranger school and is more of a Ranger than a Salon reporter like you will ever be."
I really don't think it works that way.
*This is in fact a real thing, I looked it up recently while watching a documentary about John Wayne Gacy in which they said he was a registered clown and I was like "WTF is a registered clown?" And now I know. It's someone who has painted a clown face on an egg or is Tom Cotton. I did, however, totally lie about all of us being able to go to clown school, because apparently clown school is more selective than Harvard.
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