FUNDAMENTAL DISCOURSE: The January 6 committee debuts!

THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2022

Only one question remains: With apologies for the interruption in services, we were called away, once again, from our sprawling campus this morning.

That leaves us looking ahead to tonight, when the committee debuts.

In our view, the committee is staring at one question only.  Round the decay of [our nation's] colossal wreck, only one question remains.

The committee needs to answer one question. That question goes something like this:

Did Donald J. Trump know that violence was being planned for the march on the Capitol? 
Had he approved of some such violent attack? Had the violence been part of his plan?

In these days of (dual) epistemic closure, our blue tribe's tribunes often seem to think that those questions have already been answered. They seem to think they've already shown that the violence was part of Trump's plan.

As far as we know, no such thing has ever been shown. But alas! At times of epistemic closure, people believe what they like.

Our blue tribe's tribunes seem to think that the question has been answered. The red tribe's tribunes act like the question is just a big dumb joke.

For ourselves, we don't expect a great performance from the committee starting tonight. With apologies, we occasionally get the tiny sense that they may be a bit self-convinced.

(Dual) epistemic closure is like that! That said, we're willing to be surprised by their presentation—but where would things go from there?

We apologize for the interruption in services. Surely, the best lies ahead!

Discourse on fuzzy language: Over at the Washington Post, Amber Phillips identifies "6 questions the Jan. 6 committee aims to answer about the attack." Her first question goes like this:
"How much responsibility for the violence falls on Trump?"
That strikes us as an exercise in somewhat slippery language. On this campus, we're asking if Trump knew there would be violence that day—more precisely, if the violence was part of his plan.

Was the violence part of his plan? Also, will that question be answered? Accept no substitutes! 


69 comments:


  1. "The committee needs to answer one question. That question goes something like this:..."

    Oh, puh-leeze, dear Bob.

    Have you heard about the thing called "politics"? If so, are you capable of distinguishing it from "truth-searching"?

    Y'know, dear Bob, "politics" and "truth-searching" are pretty much the diametrically opposed concepts. Wise up, dear.

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    1. It was criminal, not political, when Right-wing snowflakes, egged-on by a Republican Party that was furious that black peoples votes were counted in an election, tried to lynch the Vice President of the United States.

      Delete
  2. Somerby says one question remains, then he asks 3. Then he talks about clarity of language. Same as it ever was.

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    1. The second two questions are an attempt to add clarity to the first version. Yes it would have been better to just phrase it well and ask it once, but your criticism is largely overblown.

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    2. "Did Donald J. Trump know that violence was being planned for the march on the Capitol?
      Had he approved of some such violent attack? Had the violence been part of his plan?"

      We don't know Somerby's intent in posing the second two questions. To assess whether the intent was to add clarity, we can ask -- do the second two questions add any clarity to the first one? I don't think they do.

      The first question asks whether Trump knew there was going to be violence planned at the march. The second question asks whether he approved the plan (assuming there was one) and whether, assuming Trump had a plan of his own, the violence was part of it. This confuses the situation a whole bunch.

      1. We are asked what Trump knew.
      2. We are asked whether he approved someone else's plan that included violence. Did Trump conspire or merely put his stamp on something others did?
      3. We are told Trump had a plan and asked whether it included violence.

      The second and third questions majorly confuse the situation by bringing others into the picture, talking about plans whose existence has not been demonstrated, asking about an intent to provoke violence on Trump's part or others' parts, assuming plans not in evidence. There is no added clarity when you increase the possibilities and remove any limits from them.

      The first question is bad enough because when you ask what someone knew, you have no way of determining or verifying the answer, short of Trump displaying his knowledge in writing or by statements to others, e.g., evidence that supports a reasonable conclusion that he knew there would be violence, such as saying "Where should I be when the violence starts?" or "What shall I do when violence breaks out after the speeches?"

      These seem like innocuous questions, but their primary purpose is to refocus viewer attention onto the testimony about violence, and to set an impossible standard for what must be proven by the hearings -- showing us what was in Trump's mind, what he knew, believed, wanted, when that is notoriously difficult, especially in someone trying to evade responsibility for his actions. Somerby doesn't even tell us what he believes Trump knew or why that is important if his intent was to disrupt Congress and stay in office.

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    3. Heh heh. Good one. Sounds like the real deadrat, sort of, anyway.

      Two corporate parties, trying to score points. I should watch it with my own eyes to see if I can stomach it, and tell my progeny that I saw the whole thing. On corporate TV.

      Leroy

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    4. Right before the death rattle. Bob, don't get all Catholic on us. Hope you're doing well.

      Leroy

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    5. Leroy,,
      I haven’t seen this much corporate shtick, since I watched the corporate World Trade Center towers, in the corporate capital of the USA, supposedly fall on corporate television.

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    6. This “both parties are corporate” crap is supposed to imply that the two parties are really just the same, I guess. And it invariably helps the fascists.

      Except one party wants to raise taxes on corporations to fund programs that help the middle class and the poor, whereas the other wants ever lower taxes on our “job creators.” One party supports workers unions, while the other wants them outlawed. Etc.

      Short of forcibly seizing the means of production and turning it over to the workers, what should the Dems do (you know, the party of Medicare, Medicaid, social security, etc)? And how should they do it?

      I leave it as a thought experiment to decide which party you think corporations prefer to see in power. For example, the oil companies are making record profits, despite inflation and other pressures. You think they are maybe trying to influence the election?

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  3. Surely the violence is but equal or even secondary to Trump making a conscious attempt to subvert the very fabric of our democratic process.

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  4. Bob's grasping for anything he can use to distract us from the fact the Republican Party are fascists.
    It isn't working.

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  5. Bob miscounts two questions as one question. He isn't good at numbers, is he?

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    1. 3,actually. You could both use some counting practice.

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  6. The reality is that Trump doesn't know anything, except what the last person he talked to says. That's how he escapes everytime, by existing in a fog, never being consistently clear.

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    1. Yeah he's not a liar he's a bullshitter.

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    2. I didn’t realize that bullshitting was an acceptable mechanism for a perp to avoid being charged or found guilty. I’ll let all the folks brought up on criminal charges know….

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    3. How many times have we been told, incorrectly, that Trump was about to be convicted of a crime? I won't pay attention until he's actually convicted of something.

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    4. This committee will not be charging Trump. They will lay out the facts they have uncovered. Are you saying you aren’t going to watch, David?

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    5. you have some fucking balls, David. And no shame whatsoever. And no conscience. Just win baby. Whatever it takes.

      "I just want to find 11,780 votes," he told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

      doesn't even cause you to blink, you fucking fascist prick

      Delete
    6. I’m hearing that Raffensperger will testify publicly before the committee.

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    7. "I didn’t realize that bullshitting was an acceptable mechanism for a perp to avoid being charged or found guilty. I’ll let all the folks brought up on criminal charges know…."

      You've misconstrued the comment. Bullshitters are worse than liars. But it's an important distinction to understand how he operates.

      Delete
    8. "Just win baby. Whatever it takes."

      Both parties are their apparatchik think this way, be honest.

      Delete
    9. No, honestly, there are people on the left who are concerned about the damage to our democracy, who value truth, fairness, accountability, transparency of government, protection of rights, due process, and the common good.

      Criminals tend to believe that other people are just as criminal as they are, or would be if they thought they could get away with it. Liars think that others tell lies. Republicans think that Democrats are just as bad as they are. But there is an objective truth that does not support such beliefs. It isn't only about winning for Democrats. It is about justice and preserving the functioning of our government for the benefit of all (Republicans too, whether they want it or not). Behind every cynic is a crook trying to excuse his own bad behavior.

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    10. 4:23: The original commenter claimed that that’s how Trump “escapes” every time. He doesn’t “know anything.” If he is indeed bullshitting, that should not be a way for him to escape culpability. In fact, his bullshitting is quite purposeful. That was my point.

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    11. There are people like that but the die hard supporters of each party I don't think are like that.

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    12. I have replied to 4:31 twice now, but my comments keep disappearing. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

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    13. I'm going to watch some amateur boxing tonight.

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    14. Back in black
      Who's the mack
      Sittin in back
      Of the Cadillac

      Delete
    15. Both parties are their apparatchik think this way, be honest.

      Both sides bullshit.

      Delete
    16. Daily, Somerby tries to get you readers to ignore key concepts, today it is: inference.

      Yes, Somerby has put a dime in the old "excessively literal" juke box.

      His 2 dumb questions go to the issue of mens rea, and he will claim two things, two ahem contradictory things: 1) you can not read someone's mind, and 2) Trump's mental state is compromised (ah! here is suddenly ok with inference).

      Somerby worries about "knowledge" but ignores how most cases are determined: intent, recklessness, and negligence.

      Furthermore, rarely is there much direct evidence, usually a determination is made through: INFERENCE.

      Somerby always puts his thumb on the scale to push his nonsense narrative with the ultimate goal of manufacturing ignorance. One thing odd about Somerby's goal is that right wingers are already there - they inhale ignorance like as if a drug, and those on the Left will simply not buy his nonsense.

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    17. Both parties are big government, although the GOP is more big government.

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    18. Black and Hispanic voters are leaving the Republican Party in droves, because both parties are the same.

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    19. Good luck getting suckers to believe Left-wing snowflakes also threw a temper tantrum because black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election.

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    20. I can’t recall a single time I was told Trump was about to indicted for a crime. David in Ca must be getting Hik mixed up with Hillary Clinton. David seems kinda shakey today…

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    21. https://youtu.be/rLEchPZm318

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  7. Trump’s responsibility for Jan 6 is an important question, but surely not the only one.

    It is also important to establish exactly who was involved in the planning and execution, and how the events unfolded.

    I get the sense that Somerby wants the question of Trump’s culpability to be the sole important one, so that he can drag out his usual contention that Trump is “mentally ill” and cannot really be held responsible. Somerby seems already self-convinced of that.

    He seems to be uninterested in whether other members of the GOP or GOP operatives were also responsible, because that might mean there is a systemic problem with the Republican Party…you know, the ones that liberals are just trying to put into jail out of political gamesmanship?

    He has also telegraphed his role as theater critic, worrying that the committee’s performance won’t be stellar. Far be it that he might pay attention to the information that is presented instead….

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  8. Somerby wants to reduce the committee’s work to just the violence that day. But it isn’t just about the violence. As Adam Schiff put it, the hearings should demonstrate “the multipronged effort to overturn a presidential election, how one strategy to subvert the election led to another, culminating in a violent attack on our democracy.”

    Somerby does not get to reframe and judge the committee’s goals according his own desired goal.

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    1. Yes, and you have to consider, who does Bob think he is helping with this crap? Like many prone to piety, he is really a big hater. He would happily see the Country go down as long as MSNBC goes with it.

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  9. Yes, it is odd that Somerby focuses in on the violence when the crime at hand is sedition. Sedition involves revolt but not necessarily or soley violent revolt, against government authority. The use of alternate slates of electors to undermine the legitimate electors to disrupt the process of certifying an election constitutes a seditious revolt, even if there is no violence involved at all.

    The hearing needs to convince people that there was a seditious revolt, not solely violence, against Congress, disrupting it as it was doing its duty by certifying the election. The Proud Boys leaders were charged with sedition, not violence. The hearings need to connect the dots between the Proud Boys and the Republicans who joined them in the plot to impede certification of the election, whether that involved hanging Mike Pence, or simply making sure the members of Congress could not certify the election on time by running them out of the building.

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  10. "For ourselves, we don't expect a great performance from the committee starting tonight. With apologies, we occasionally get the tiny sense that they may be a bit self-convinced."

    The committee is conducting the hearings for public consumption, to share the results of their investigation. Shouldn't they be convinced of what they choose to present to others? They have already collected and examine evidence, and have chosen what to make public in these hearings. Why would they present anything they didn't believe was true or important for the public to hear?

    Somerby acts as if this were a situation where the committee does not know what will be said, where they must be keeping an open mind on testimony -- that is not what is happening. The committee is presenting its findings by presenting selected testimony that they have already gathered. It would be wrong if they weren't convinced by that evidence (not "self-convinced") that the public needs to hear what they now know happened. Somerby wants to pretend that this is a narrative, a story, instead of an assemblage of facts collected via investigation. This is not any committee member's opinion. It is the collected testimony of witnesses, organized to make sense to the public.

    It does surprise me that Somerby doesn't seem to know what the 1/6 Committee is about, but maybe he does know and has some vested interest in misrepresenting it?

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  11. "For ourselves, we don't expect a great performance from the committee starting tonight".

    Use of the word "performance," as if committee members and witnesses were actors or musicians, is ridiculous. If he refers to the job that committee members have done, what basis does Somerby have to disparage them? Prior "performance" of impeachment managers and witnesses have been competent and convincing. Why then disparage this committee before it has shown its work?

    These are the sorts of remarks that make Somerby sound partisan and biased against Democrats (and the small number of Republicans who have held onto their integrity). Such a prediction only serves the purpose of biasing viewers ahead of tonight's public hearing.

    This is not an act, not a "performance." Their sole duty is to be clear, tell the truth, and inform the public of the results of their inquiries. This isn't entertainment and the committee members are not the focus. It doesn't matter how well they "perform" but what happened and what it means for our country's democracy.

    Republicans consider this political theater. When Somerby adopts their language, he shows us his own bias, and it is not in any way liberal.

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  12. "Over at the Washington Post, Amber Phillips identifies "6 questions the Jan. 6 committee aims to answer about the attack.""

    The article is behind a paywall, so I could not read where Amber Phillips said she got her questions from. She does not speak for the committee. The committee will be presenting its own content and it will be framing the issues as it sees fit, according to the mandate of its investigation. It does not have to ask or answer the questions raised by Phillips or by Somerby.

    Somerby says "Accept no substitutes." That's ridiculous. It implies that he dictates what the hearing should talk about. He has no standing, no authority to do that. Neither does Phillips. If Somerby were intellectually honest -- he might ask each viewer to think about the questions they consider important -- what does the public want and need to know? He hasn't done that because he is trying to frame the questions himself, in advance of the hearings. That is what is meant by "prebuttal" and it is part of the Republican strategy for combatting the hearings. Judging by Somerby's framing, Republicans seem to think that if they can't prove that Trump instigated violence, then that means he is guilty of nothing, not even trying to undo the election and stay in office by interfering with a legal election. This is plainly ridiculous, since sedition doesn't require violence. So the Republican strawmen being constructed in advance of the public's chance to hear the evidence, has nothing to do with the accusations that may emerge beginning tonight. So, a wise person should not pay any attention to Phillips or Somerby but instead consider what questions he or she considers important in determining what 1/6 was about and whether the activities surrounding the transition of power from Trump to Biden were lawful or seditious. The committee has been thinking about such things. Rather than asking whether Trump was involved in violence, instead consider what Trump was involved in and why, and let the evidence tell the story.

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  13. "Was the violence part of his plan? Also, will that question be answered?"

    If violence were not what Trump wanted, wouldn't he have taken steps to end it, during that long time when he was watching the violence on TV, people were begging him to do something, and he did nothing?

    For that reason, is this really the question that needs to be answered? Shouldn't we be asking why Trump wanted that violence to go on, instread?

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  14. Why does Somerby care so much about violence and ignore other aspects of what happened, such as the attempts to overturn a legitimate election? Is Somerby perhaps concerned about whether Trump planned to use violence as an excuse to invoke martial law? Does Somerby think that Mike Pence's life was truly in danger? Was Nancy Pelosi going to be attacked? Or does Somerby think that if the violence was not Trump's fault, then there was no harm and no foul, even though a terrorist act was committed in his name and on his behalf?

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  15. Shorter Somerby Prebuttal:

    If the violence doesn't fit, you must acquit...

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  16. In what might be a gag swiped from the Pythons, Bob tells us there is only ONE question, then offers up three calculated to let Trump off the hook.
    All crime is not excused because we
    can’t absolutely know what was in
    someone’s mind. Trump actions on that
    day lack any rational sense of decency or
    responsibility. Does anyone have a clear
    idea of what the afternoon would have
    been like if Trump got what he wanted?
    Even here, predictably, there is no
    consistency on his statements in the
    aftermath.
    not that he had ever been competently
    questioned.
    Bob is a stupid man, but like Trump
    himself, that does not excuse his evil. There
    seems solid evidence Trump sat in
    front of the TV cheering the riot on,
    perhaps for two hours. Bob will find
    some way to rationalize this, probably
    by not mentioning it.

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  17. What about the violence Trump watched and did nothing to stop?

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    1. Yes. Bob’s creepy arrogance here
      Is as bad as any deliberate
      dishonesty he has ever written
      about. Maybe worse.

      Delete
  18. Somerby is about as predictable here as a Fox talking head, transparently paving the way for his right wing agenda to succeed. Nothing short of a video of Trump reciting the specific words will suffice. When the highly partisan performance piece that Bob envisions is headed up by Liz Cheney, his "blue tribe vs red tribe tribunes" formula runs amok. But no matter. If we cannot with certainty determine the underlying thought process of this moronic traitor, he's off the hook, as far as Bobby is concerned. It will be fun watching the pretzel logic that emerges from Bobby's brain after viewing last night's episode. Urging a mob to storm the capitol and then watching the violent destruction that ensues without raising a finger to save the lives of those threatened is not enough for Somerby. Who pays Bobby for this drivel?

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  19. Let's just hope that the hearing was broadcast on Telemundo so Hispanics could see the daughter of the psychotic warmongering Republican make her case to them about this topic which is much more important than $5 a gallon gas and the out of control economic inequality of our country who is always at war.

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    1. I'm sure the daughter of the psychotic Republican war profiteer will be holding hearings on economic inequality and how vast numbers of Americans find themselves in a cycle of debt with very few prospects for advancement real soon.

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    2. Perhaps it’s a novelist’s daydream, but children sometimes attempt to atone for the sins of the father. Without her father, the Imperial Presidency might have died after Nixon. It blew up in all our faces. She might understand that at some level.

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    3. 5:29-First of all, most Hispanic voters in this country, like the ones in Uvalde, speak English, so no need for Telemundo. Second, the attempt to overthrow our government is important, and deserving of these hearings. It doesn’t mean inequality isn’t also important, but somehow the loss of democracy or “the vote” is up there towards the top of the list of things to be concerned about.

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    4. It's gratifying to see the commenters take Bob Somerby's advice and reach out across the aisle to support the maniacal, warmongering, Republican war profiteer's daughter who tirelessly works with Democrats to pass military budgets that send trillions of dollars to the private sector and who is also totally cool with bigotry.

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    5. Thankfully the anti-Trump neocon warmongers who the Democratic party are now in bed with agree with Democrats that deprioritizing voter's economic issues as the economy falls apart in favor of prime time hearings about issues that have nothing to do with their lives is a totally great idea.

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    6. It's gratifying that Democrats totally agree with the far right wing racist warmonger Liz Cheney that any decrease in military budgets would be a grave mistake any talk of economic inequality and class issues should be avoided at all cost. It makes you wonder why bigotry loving Hispanics are leaving the Democratic party.

      https://cheney.house.gov/2021/03/19/cheney-democrats-proposed-defense-cuts-are-even-more-dangerous-considering-the-threat-we-face-f

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    7. It was such a terrific use of time and platform last night when the Democrats partnered with war mongering far right wing Republicans to forgo any discussion of the collapsing economy and the complete desperation facing millions of Americans and show a video of what happened on January 6th. Just because no one knows what happened on January 6th and no videos have ever been produced about what happened that day.

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    8. I've never been more proud to be a Democrat than I am today.

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    9. As a Democrat, i relish my party's newfound affection for racist, war mongering right wing Republicans who avoid speaking about economic and class issues. Just because that appeals so deeply to Hispanics and small business owners.

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    10. Oh woe is me, woe is me....
      There is no difference between the two major parties. Woe is me..... What am I to do? Obviously sit home and let the christofascists complete their takeover. Woe is me.... woe is me....woe is me....woe is me.

      LOL, man the trolls are starting early today, I wonder why.

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    11. 9:30,
      You’re doing yoemans work, pointing out for all of us that Liz Cheney is a Marxist commie, who wants to give black people everything for free.

      Delete
  20. Annon at 8:17. The Dems being on the obviously correct side seems to bother you quite a bit. I will give a fair hearing for your plan for State owned Military Production.

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  21. Interesting to see the trolls out in force trying to counteract the messaging of the 1/6 hearing.

    Calling Cheney a warmonger's daughter doesn't do much to address the content of what she said yesterday. Neither does Somerby's prebuttal.

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    1. The messaging is not as important as economic and class issues. Emphasizing that messaging over economic and class issues sends a clear message of the imbalance of priorities between voters and politicians.

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    2. I hope the content of what was said yesterday is meaningful and important and can help us understand what happened and to hold those responsible responsible.

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    3. But issues of class and income disparity are hundreds of times more important to me.

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    4. 10:30,
      You’re not just a snowflake, but a very special snowflake, I see.

      Delete
  22. "Did Donald J. Trump know that violence was being planned for the march on the Capitol?
    Had he approved of some such violent attack? Had the violence been part of his plan?"

    1. Yes.
    2. Yes
    3. Yes

    But there was more too.

    The 1/6 hearing is presenting a clear, solid, convincing case against Trump and his supporters, connecting the Big Lie to the riot and attempt to subvert election results. They began by showing that Trump didn't believe his own lies and neither did other Republicans, that the goal was to stay in power, and that the 1/6 riot was an essential part of the plan.

    None of the presenters were partisan. There was a cop whose duty was to her job, Cheney whose duty was to the constitution (not party or president), and a small-town African American house member from Mississippi, whose duty is also to the constitution and the people. In their remarks, they stressed the damage done to our process, to democracy, not partisan politics.

    Key points:

    1. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers coordinated with each other, meeting before the riot.
    2. The Proud Boys planned their attack before the rally even started, walking the grounds at 10 am and deciding where to breech the building, then leaving to have lunch, returning to the Capitol Building before Trump finished his speech and asked the crowd to head there.
    3. The Oath Keepers mobilized a fast resonse plan by placing additional weapons in quickly accessible locations, to be available if Trump were to invoke martial law via the Insurrection Act. They did this in advance of the riot.
    4. Before the riot, Trump attempted to replace the Acting Attorney General with Clark, a stooge who would go along with his plan to overturn the election results, but was opposed by the threatened resignation of DOJ staff en masse. Jared dismissed those threats as whining on the part of lawyers.
    5. There was no evidence supporting the Big Lie about election fraud, Trump lost his court cases and that should have ended his opposition to the transfer of power to Biden.

    Fox News not only didn't show the hearing but they used the entire period (without commercials) for counter-programming to address the hearing's content. In this way, they are actively supporting Trump and his Republican supporters.

    Quite a few pundits and commentators, Somerby included, have attempted to undercut the hearing with their own prebuttals and predictions of failure. Kevin Drum should be ashamed of what he wrote, but it seems unlikely that these pseudo-moderates and Republicans will understand that they are on the wrong side of this issue. The media's efforts to critique the hearing (which is in defense of democracy) as beneficial or harmful to Democratic midterm results, is despicable because it treats this hearing as a partisan ploy and not the defense of government that it should be regarded as. It is akin to pretending that the war to end slavery was just a ploy to get Republicans reelected. Those who watched the hearing will understand the stupidity of framing the hearing as the media did yesterday, handicapping it as part of the horse race midterms instead of an attempt to preserve democracy by revealing those who are its enemies, still hiding in their government offices.

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