Preview of the 7th hearing of the Jan. 6th Select Committee

Preview of the 7th hearing of the Jan. 6th Select Committee

July 21, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Aaron Blake of The Washington Post previews what tonight’s witnesses, former Deputy National Security Matthew Pottinger and former Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews, could testify to related to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Pottinger served for all four years of Trump’s presidency before resigning as deputy national security adviser on Jan. 6. He had significant stature in the White House and will be difficult for Trump to try to dismiss as an insignificant aide, as Trump did with Hutchinson. Indeed, Pottinger appears to be the highest-ranking White House official to resign that day, though Cabinet secretaries also resigned in response to Jan. 6.

Matthews, who was a deputy press secretary, has more publicly criticized Trump in the 18 months since Jan. 6. When she resigned, she issued a statement saying, “Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.” A week later, she told The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker that “seeing people I know, who were scared for their lives, just shook me to my core.”

Both will undoubtedly speak to a central event after the insurrection began: Trump’s 2:24 p.m. tweet attacking Vice President Mike Pence for not having the courage to go along with overturning the election. The committee has played relatively little of their prior videotaped testimony, but each witness weighed in on this event in the portions that have been shown so far.

Adam Rawnsley, Nikki McCann Ramirez, and Asawin Suebsaeng report an exclusive for Rolling Stone that the committee will report on how lawmakers that downplayed the Jan. 6 Capitol attack acted while the Capitol was under siege on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Jan. 6 committee plans to use its Thursday night hearing to call out insurrection-friendly lawmakers who cowered during the Capitol attack but have since downplayed the insurrection’s severity, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s planning.

“They have plans to paint a really striking picture of how some of Trump’s greatest enablers of his coup plot were — no matter what they’re saying today — quaking in their boots and doing everything shy of crying out for their moms,” one source tells Rolling Stone. “If any of [these lawmakers] were capable of shame, they would be humiliated.” […]

The committee has at times switched plans at the last minute, and it remains unclear which specific lawmakers the committee could call out. But at least some Republicans have already had their attempts to downplay or justify the attempted coup undone by footage from the day of the attack. When Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga) claimed the insurrection “a normal tourist visit,” social media users quickly located photos of the Georgia Republican gasping in terror and hiding behind an armed Capitol police officer pointing a handgun at a barricaded entrance to the Senate floor.

Julia Ainsley of NBC News reports that the first (and possibly the second) communication to the Secret Service to preserve all records came before Jan. 6, 2021.

The first email about preserving records came on Dec. 9, 2020 from the Secret Service’s Office of Strategic Planning and the second was in January 2021 from the agency’s chief information officer, though the source didn’t provide an exact date. Both emails included reminders that federal employees have the responsibility to preserve their records and included instructions on how to do so, the senior Secret Service official said.

The first two emails did not specifically reference Jan. 6, according to the Secret Service official and another senior official within DHS.

The Secret Service official said that by the time the Inspector General asked for the records more than a month after the attack on the Capitol, that information was already lost.

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Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel writes that an even more immediate threat to democracy than Donald Trump is Jan. 6 insurrectionist and Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano.

I’m impatient to have some accountability for Trump and his flunkies, just like everyone else (even if, because I’ve followed the investigation, I know that DOJ is investigating Trump’s flunkies). I think, for the reasons I laid out here, a hypothetical Trump indictment wouldn’t come for some time yet, but I’m also confident that if the investigation isn’t open now or soon, Trump’s campaign roll-out would do nothing to thwart opening an investigation. It would require the same Garland approval that would be obtained in any case. Trump wouldn’t even be affected by the DOJ policy on pre-election actions, because he’s not on the ballot this year.

But there is a key player in January 6, someone known to have been under investigation, for whom the window to prosecute is closing as the election draws near, someone who presents a far more immediate threat to democracy than Trump: Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.[…]

Yet DOJ only has seven weeks left to charge Mastriano before DOJ’s election guidelines would prevent that from happening.

If you want to panic, panic first about Mastriano. Because the threat he poses to democracy is far more imminent than the very real threat Trump poses.

Robin Givhan of The Washington Post writes about the currently devalued “soft power” of first ladies.

What does it mean when these two first ladies stand in front of the cameras and ask us to give them our attention and to keep the human suffering in Ukraine in the front of our mind alongside inflation, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the weakening of democracy, the enduring gun violence, the climate crisis, the immigration crisis and all the personal crises that families confront on a daily basis? They are asking us to be civil.

First ladies aren’t a replacement for diplomacy. They’re a poor substitute for the nongovernmental organizations and charities and good Samaritans who are on the ground and in harm’s way. But the American first lady has traditionally been framed as a representative of the American people rather than the country’s politics. This was never entirely true and perhaps it was always an illusion. But now that illusion is harder to maintain or even believe because politics has chipped away at everything.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times really knows how to wrap me around his finger with a discussion of U.S. macroeconomic policy and inflation that references “Scylla and Charybdis.”

Macroeconomic policy in the United States has been subject to two great errors over the past half-century. The odds are that you’ve only heard about the first, the way the Federal Reserve allowed inflation to become entrenched in the 1970s. But the second — the way policymakers allowed the economy to operate far below capacity, needlessly sacrificing millions of potential jobs, for a decade following the financial crisis — was arguably even more severe.

The task facing today’s policymakers, which, given Joe Manchin — er, gridlock in Congress — effectively means the Fed, is to try to steer a course between Scylla and Charybdis, avoiding both past mistakes. (Which mistake is Scylla, which Charybdis? I have no idea.) The good news, which by and large hasn’t made headlines but is extremely important, is that recent data are showing encouraging signs the Fed may pull this off.

This news also, however, suggests that the Fed should steer a bit farther to the left than it may previously have been inclined to, and turn a deaf ear — stuff its ears with wax? — to demands it turn hard right rudder.

OK, enough with the classical metaphors.

Fabio Bertoni of The New Yorker examines Neil Gorsuch’s tortured interpretation of First Amendment in the majority opinion of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.

The decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, holds that a public-high-school football coach has a constitutional right to publicly pray at the fifty-yard line after games. Using the words “quiet” or “quietly” ten times to describe the coach’s prayers, Gorsuch dismisses any concerns that students may feel coerced to join him, as long as they are not expressly compelled to do so. The coach’s conduct, Gorsuch finds, in an opinion joined by Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, is fully protected by the First Amendment.

The First Amendment, of course, states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The establishment clause, which was cited by the school district, has traditionally been interpreted to prohibit government action that compels religious conduct, favors one religion over another, or endorses religion over non-religion. But Justice Gorsuch makes the astonishing claim that, because prayer is protected by both the “speech” and the “free exercise” references, it is “doubly protected.” This “double protection” means that the School District’s concern that the coach’s prayers run afoul of the establishment clause is outgunned, two clauses against one. Does this mean that if I (1) petition the government to (2) hold a rally supporting the (3) printing of a pamphlet about my (4) new religion, I’d be quadruply protected and could thereby trump other constitutional provisions, such as the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? The math quickly becomes absurd.[…]

Protecting political speech, including speech that criticizes government officials, was the primary justification in the Supreme Court’s unanimous landmark 1964 decision in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which holds that government officials need to meet a very high burden of proof to succeed in defamation claims. In that decision, Justice William Brennan reasoned that, because political speech is central to democracy, “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open.” According to Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, however, that long-held understanding of the central purpose of the First Amendment is wrong. In his view, it is government suppression of religious speech that is the core concern of the First Amendment, and what it was designed to protect against. Further, Gorsuch’s finding that religious speech is “doubly protected” implies that political speech—say, about voting rights or women’s rights—is only single protected.

Renée Graham of The Boston Globe figures that the next logical move for anti-abortionist Republicans is to weaken age of consent laws.

The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and various Republicans recently dismissed as false the true story of a 10-year-old Ohio girl, six weeks pregnant, whose family had to travel to Indiana for an abortion after she was raped. Instead of apologizing, most shifted to excoriating the reported undocumented status of her accused rapist.

Republicans also reiterated a revolting old point — even a child impregnated by a rapist should not have an abortion. In a Politico interview last week, Jim Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life, said given his druthers, “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.”

That should have surprised no one. Antiabortion laws are steeped in cruelty and misogyny where male dominion trumps what’s best for the lives of women and girls. When Roe was overturned, Philip Gunn, speaker of Mississippi’s Republican-led legislature, said his state’s law “does not include an exception for incest” because “I believe life begins at conception.” […]

That the vast majority of states allow minors to get married, most of them girls marrying adult men, emphasizes how we should closely watch whether and how states will attempt to weaken or expunge age of consent laws.

See ya later, alligator.

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No, Bloomberg UK, “Hasta la vista, baby” was not made popular in Terminator 2, it was made popular in a Jody Watley song that was a megahit in the US and a hit in the UK. Terminator 2 did make the saying more popular, true enough.

Jen Kirby of Vox details the procedure and politics for electing the next British Prime Minister now that the field of candidates has been whittled down to two Tory MPs.

Dues-paying members of the Conservative Party will decide between Rishi Sunak, former the chancellor of the exchequer (fancy name for finance minister) who helped kick off the Cabinet rebellion against Johnson that prompted his resignation; and Liz Truss, the foreign secretary. Sunak is expected; he had led voting among members of Parliament throughout all the early rounds of voting. But Truss edged out Penny Mordaunt, another minister who had dogged Sunak in earlier voting rounds among their fellow members of parliament and who had a lot of grassroots support from the party throughout the race.

Both Sunak and Truss will have to convince the Conservative Party that they are up to tackling the mounting challenges facing the United Kingdom: inflation and the cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine and its economic fallout, and the still-loose ends of Brexit. And the next leader will need to rehabilitate a Conservative party that’s now struggling with potential voters, and define the party away from the controversies and dramas of the Johnson government.

The last time the Conservatives did this, in 2019, Johnson was the obvious frontrunner, and the contest was all about Brexit. In 2022, the leadership contest is a lot less straightforward. Both Sunak and Truss served in Johnson’s Cabinet, and so neither represents a completely clean break with Johnson. Both will likely try to use the others’ records in and out of government and out against the other — Truss on Sunak’s handling of the economy, Sunak on Truss’s lack of experience handling the economy, for example. But the candidate who emerges is likely to be the one the Conservative Party thinks is most likely to help them win, again.

Polling shows that now Liz Truss is a heavy favorite to become the next British Prime Minister.

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Jem Bartholomew interviews the Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson about the role of the U.K. press in choosing the next British Prime Minister for Columbia Journalism Review.

JB: Sticking with legacy media for now, who wields the most influence today?

JW: The Sunday newspapers [the Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Observer, etc.] are still the place you drop your scandalous story or your particularly explosive, grubby bit of briefing. The insurgent candidate Penny Mordaunt, who was topping polls with Conservative members, got an absolute kicking from the Sunday papers as rival teams tried to damage her. [Mordaunt was eliminated in the final round of MPs voting on July 20.]

The main thing American audiences might not understand is the odd relationship in British media between the press and the publicly-funded BBC. Newspaper sales have collapsed, but they really still set the mainstream news agenda, in part because the BBC follows up so many of their stories. That connection is really powerful. Highly-political newspapers tend to break the news, and the BBC feels obliged to follow up something the Daily Mail says is a story, for fear of looking partisan if it didn’t. So there’s a lot of power in being a newspaper proprietor.

In [Johnson’s] Downing Street, talking to people in there, they were obsessed with what was in the Telegraph or Mail. It was real panic if the Mail was going for them or if the Telegraph was really critical of a policy. It’s kind of bizarre, the whole country in hock to these outlets and their editors.

A 15-reporter team from Der Spiegel explains how and why Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to “weaponize” global food supplies.

More than 20 million tons of wheat, barley and corn are now trapped inside Ukraine. After the harvest that is currently underway, it could be as much as 70 million tons. And if this grain doesn’t find its way to market soon, experts warn that a global hunger crisis could be the result. Ukrainian fields have long been responsible for feeding a significant share of the global population.

Hunger, Putin ally and former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said in April, is Russia’s “silent weapon.” He also warned that that no agricultural products would be delivered to “the enemies of Russia” if they went along with Western sanctions.

The fact that Putin means business can be seen in the fact that hardly any Russian grain ships docked in ports in sub-Saharan Africa in the spring. The 40,000 tons of wheat that Kenya received in May is just a 15th of what Russia normally delivers to the region.

Discussions these days with diplomats from places like Egypt, Pakistan and Senegal center almost exclusively on a single issue: grain deliveries. From those countries, European priorities – like Putin’s attack on the European security order and spiking energy prices – aren’t even on the radar. Survival is the order of the day for countries that depend on food deliveries from the Black Sea region, and for Putin, that is an extremely strong lever for influencing huge swaths of Asia and Africa.

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Brian Winter of Foreign Affairs warns that Brazil may be following a classic pattern of Latin/South American politics.

Today, the man who oversaw most of that euphoric era as president from 2003 to 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is leading the polls for presidential elections scheduled in October 2022. Although no one expects a divine miracle, many Brazilians hope the longtime metalworkers’ union leader—now 76, his trademark beard gone fully gray—can recapture at least some of the magic. After more than a decade of economic turmoil and political instability, Brazil is now about 20 percent poorer on a per-person basis than it was during Lula’s final year in office. Under the leadership of the country’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for reelection, Brazil has lost more than 660,000 people to COVID-19, second only to the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Its four-decade-old democracy is under severe stress. And, in a reversal of the Lula-era progress in protecting the Amazon, deforestation has increased dramatically, leading some scientists to warn that the forest, often referred to as “the world’s lungs,” is on the verge of collapse.

With a life story that reads like an epic novel and a charisma that led U.S. President Barack Obama to call him “the most popular politician on earth,” Lula may well have the talent and experience to put Brazil back on the right path. But it is also possible that Brazilians are falling into a classic recurring trap of Latin American politics: hoping that an aging leader who presided over a long-ago commodities export boom can somehow turn back the clock. Repeatedly over the past century, leaders who presided over periods of unusual prosperity, such as Juan Perón in Argentina in the late 1940s, Carlos Andrés Pérez during Venezuela’s oil boom of the 1970s, and Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe during the first decade of this century, have either returned to power themselves or helped protégés get elected. But almost without exception, these comebacks have ended in disappointment or disaster, in part because the world had changed and prices for crucial exports such as crude oil, iron ore, and soybeans had fallen.

Today’s Latin America is struggling to emerge from an especially troubled period that saw some of the world’s highest death rates from COVID-19, its worst rates of homicide and inequality, and a lost decade of lackluster economic growth and social unrest. Given the scale of these challenges, it is fair to worry that Lula’s rise may be symbolic of what the Venezuelan intellectual Moisés Naím calls “ideological necrophilia,” a historical preference during times of crisis for nostalgia and shopworn ideas instead of fresh leadership and forward-looking policy. As the 2022 presidential campaign in Brazil has progressed, Lula’s team has been characterized by a glaring shortage of new faces, relying instead on the principal players from his previous term to advise him. He told one interviewer: “You have to understand that, instead of asking what I’m going to do, you just have to look at what I did.” But for Lula to come even close to replicating his past record, he will have to overcome a much more adverse external context—and the outsize expectations that have ultimately sunk most others who attempted similar comebacks.

Granted that Winter mentions a lot of peculiarities and other features that are unique, perhaps, to Latin American politics, how different is it, really, from a North America that has elected Roosevelts, Trudeaus, and Bushes in the past 120 years? (Not to mention attempts by Tafts, Kennedys, and Clintons)

How about the Nehrus-Gandhis, Bhuttos-Zardaris, Sharifs, and Marcoses of southeast Asia?

Elizabeth A. Harris of The New York Times reports that Oxford University Press has hired Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as project editor for a new dictionary— the Oxford Dictionary of African American English.

English has many words and expressions like “shout out,” she said, which began in Black communities, made their way around the country and then through the English-speaking world. The process has been happening over generations, linguists say, adding an untold number of contributions to the language, including hip, nitty gritty, cool and woke.

Now, a new dictionary — the Oxford Dictionary of African American English — will attempt to codify the contributions and capture the rich relationship Black Americans have with the English language.

A project of Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research and Oxford University Press, the dictionary will not just collect spellings and definitions. It will also create a historical record and serve as a tribute to the people behind the words, said Henry Louis Gates Jr., the project’s editor in chief and the Hutchins Center’s director.

“Just the way Louis Armstrong took the trumpet and turned it inside out from the way people played European classical music,” said Gates, Black people took English and “reinvented it, to make it reflect their sensibilities and to make it mirror their cultural selves.”

I’ve moved around so much that I’ve long need a replacement for the dictionary about African American slang that I had; this one.

I wonder if it would be practical to expand a dictionary like this beyond African American English to, say, other creoles of English spoken by Black people throughout The Diaspora (spoken English which has even been incorporated within African American English by Caribbean migrants to the United States).

That might require other dictionaries, though.

Finally today, The Grammarian writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer about the dangers of typos.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro informed the 600-person town in north-central Pennsylvania, just a few miles from the New York state border, that it didn’t conduct the proper background check of Timothy Loehmann before hiring him. In a Facebook video of the quaint meeting where the borough council voted to hire Loehmann, his name is misspelled aloud: “L-O-C-H-M-A-N-N.” The incorrect name “Timothy Lochmann” — not “Loehmann” — was reportedly also given to local media before the officer was sworn in. Anyone who wanted to do even the simplest Googling wouldn’t have found Loehmann’s ignominious history.

Now this sleepy Pennsylvania hamlet, where the local government body meets gathered around a tiny table, has been dragged through the mud in the national press due to an accidental typo.

There’s no evidence that the town (or the officer) intended to deceive anyone when it misspelled the officer’s name. But if it did, it wouldn’t be the first time that a typo was used not just intentionally, but strategically.

Have a good day, everyone!



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