Today’s GOP: Denying the Insurrection and launching a revolt against mask use

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

HCR
Heather Cox Richardson

July 30, 2021

The ripples of the explosive testimony of the four police officers Tuesday before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol continue to spread. Committee members are meeting this week to decide how they will proceed. Congress goes on recess during August, but committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) suggested the committee would, in fact, continue to meet during that break.

Committee members are considering subpoenas to compel the testimony of certain lawmakers, especially since the Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that it would not assert executive privilege to stop members of the Trump administration from testifying to Congress about Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection. This is a change from the Trump years, when the Department of Justice refused to acknowledge Congress’s authority to investigate the executive branch. This new directive reasserts the traditional boundaries between the two branches, saying that Congress can require testimony and administration officials can give it.

Further, the Department of Justice yesterday rejected the idea that it should defend Congress members involved in the January 6 insurrection. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) sued Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, as well as the former president and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, for lying about the election, inciting a mob, and inflicting pain and distress.

Famously, Brooks participated in the rally before the insurrection, telling the audience: “[W]e are not going to let the Socialists rip the heart out of our country. We are not going to let them continue to corrupt our elections, and steal from us our God-given right to control our nation’s destiny.” “Today,” he said, “Republican Senators and Congressmen will either vote to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed, and socialist nation on the decline or they will join us and they will fight and vote against voter fraud and election theft, and vote for keeping America great.”

“[T]oday is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” he said. He asked them if they were willing to give their lives to preserve “an America that is the greatest nation in world history.” “Will you fight for America?” he asked.

To evade the lawsuit, Brooks gave an affidavit in which he and his lawyers insisted that this language was solely a campaign speech, urging voters to support Republican lawmakers in 2022 and 2024. But he also argued that the Department of Justice had to represent him in the lawsuit because he was acting in his role as a congress member that day, representing his constituents.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice declined to take over the case, pointing out that campaign and electioneering activities fall outside the scope of official employment. It goes on to undercut the idea of protecting any lawmaker who participated in the insurrection, saying that “alleged action to attack Congress and disrupt its official functions is not conduct a Member of Congress is employed to perform.” This means Brooks is on his own to defend himself from the Swalwell lawsuit. It also means that lawmakers intending to fight subpoenas are going to be paying for their own legal representation.

If the committee does, in fact, start demanding that lawmakers talk, Brooks is likely on the list of those from whom they will want to hear. Trying to bolster the new Republican talking point that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should have been better prepared for the insurrection (this is a diversion: she has no say over the Capitol Police, and she did, in fact, call for law enforcement on January 6), Brooks told Slate political reporter Jim Newell that he, Brooks, knew something was up. He had been warned “on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days,” he said. “And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.” “That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,” he told Newell. “To cover up the body armor.”

Brooks is not the only one in danger of receiving a subpoena. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) admitted on the Fox News Channel that he spoke to the former president on January 6, although he claimed not to remember whether it was before, during, or after the insurrection. He tried to suggest that chatting with Trump on January 6 was no different than chatting with him at any other time, but that is unlikely to fly. Jordan also repeatedly referred to Trump as “the president,” rather than the former president, a dog whistle to those who continue to insist that Trump did not, in fact, lose the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, it looks more and more like Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are eager to change the subject. McCarthy today tried to walk back his previous blaming of Trump for the events of January 6, trying instead to tie Pelosi to the riot. He told reporters that when he said on January 6 that “[t]he President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” and that Trump “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” he made the comment without “the information we have today.” Then he tried to blame Pelosi for the Capitol Police response.

McCarthy seems unable to figure out how to handle the changing political dynamic and is continuing to shove the octopus of his different caucus interests into the string bag he’s holding only by promising that the Republicans will win in 2022. To that end, he is essentially walking away from governance and focusing only on the culture wars.

In addition to pulling the Trump Republicans off the select committee on the insurrection, he also pulled all six of the Republicans off a key committee on the economy, the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth. At a time when voters in all parties are concerned with the huge divergence in income and wealth in this country, a divergence that rivals that of the 1850s, 1890s, and 1920s, members of this committee could make names for themselves.

Ohio Republican Warren Davidson was one of those removed from the committee; he told Cleveland media he had been “looking forward” to participating and would “gladly rejoin” the committee if McCarthy relented, but it was Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur, still on the committee, who got the headline and the approving story.

Instead of this productive sort of headline, Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) staged an event in which they tried to visit the accused January 6 rioters at a Washington, D.C., jail. Refused entry, Gohmert told the press: “We’re in totalitarian, Marxist territory here. This is the way third-world people get treated.”

McCarthy and fellow Trump supporters are trying to get their own headlines by opposing new mask mandates as the Delta variant of coronavirus is gathering momentum across the country. On Tuesday, the attending physician for the United States Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, reinstated the use of masks in the House of Representatives and recommended it in the smaller Senate. On Wednesday, Pelosi required the use of masks in the House, and reminded members that they would be fined for refusing to wear them. All of the Democrats in the House are vaccinated; it appears that only about half of House Republicans are.

Today, House Republicans launched a revolt against mask use. They are trying to adjourn the House rather than gather with masks. Chip Roy (R-TX), said “This institution is a sham. And we should adjourn and shut this place down.” Representatives Greene, Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ), all maskless, gave Roy a standing ovation. Today, a group of House Republicans without masks posed for cameras as they tried to gain entrance to the Senate.

Consolidating around Trump after his November loss was always a gamble, but increasingly it looks like a precarious one. Just this week, the former president tried to sabotage the infrastructure deal, and 17 senators ignored him. In Texas, on Tuesday, Trump’s ability to swing races was tested and failed when the candidate he backed—even pumping a last-minute $100,000 into the race—lost.

McCarthy has promised to win in 2022 with culture wars rather than governing, and that looks like an increasingly weak bet. But make no mistake: the ace in his vest remains the voter suppression laws currently being enacted across the country.

‘Build back better’ will be a betrayal if it does not empower women

Annie Lennox

By Annie Lennox

As world leaders convene for the G7 summit, to “help the world fight, and then build back better from coronavirus”, I would like them to consider this… Among the wreckage of lives and livelihoods that we are yet to fully quantify, a newly established fact has emerged that should make our blood run cold. In the wake of this dreadful pandemic, key rights of women and girls around the world have been rolled back by an entire generation. 

Let this sink in: if you are a woman younger than 36 years old, then crucial progress achieved towards gender equality for you has been rolled back to a time before you were born. 

Every time a humanitarian or economic disaster hits, women bear the heaviest burden. The Covid-19 crisis has seen this ugly truth played out on a worldwide scale, in rich and poor countries alike, with the most discriminated-against groups enduring the harshest impacts. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the lives of women and girls beyond its obvious impact as a health emergency. In poorer countries, girls have been disproportionately pulled out of school, many of whom will never return. Around the world, it has doubled women’s domestic workload, impacting their careers, or stopping their employment altogether. And perhaps most heinous of all, it has exacerbated the everlasting scourge of violence against women, particularly in their own homes.

Yet – as ever – women are on the frontlines in tackling this crisis, just as they are in every crisis. Despite the multiple threats facing them, women have been at the forefront of the response to Covid-19. 

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Letters to The Hobbledehoy, May 2021

Hall of Fame Letter from Terri:

Hi Mike ! I’ve just discovered your website and Yeh, I love it! Do you know what I DON’T love??? I really REALLY don’t love having that orange douche bag in my Direct peripheral vision while watching a video. There’s no such thing as a good Trump pic….. but that one! Omg! Seriously?? Please please please please….. AT LEAST move it down the page … Because THAT MOUTH. It’s like my cats assh@le. Worse!

 Thanks for your time & Happy Monday

Hi Terri!
Thanks for visiting the website. You are so right – it’s time to move that cat’s asshole from the homepage. The link for “Trump’s Covid Timeline” will no longer be accompanied by an image of Trump.


Lisa writes:

Hello, Just checking that you got my previous email regarding a broken link on your site, and just to confirm that this isn’t some weird spam message but an actual person trying to bring a broken link with a potential replacement to your attention 🙂 Here are link details: Your Page: https://thehobbledehoy.com/donald-trumps-coronavirus-timeline/ Dead link title: ’15 days’ Dead link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf Working link: https://templatearchive.com/coronavirus-guidance/
Stay safe, Lisa

Hi Lisa!
Thank you for your perseverance on this issue. Corrected – finally! You are an editor’s dream.

As for Covid and Trump’s responsibility for American deaths – “The first time we ha(d) an excuse,” said Dr. Deborah Birx. “There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of (the deaths), in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”


Rory writes:

Hi, I have come across the use of my name on your website in an article completely unrelated to me or the content you have quoted. Article can be found here: How did historic alehouses, taverns and inns evolve into the pubs we see today? Can I please ask you to remove this at the earliest convenience. Thank you.

Hi Rory!

So sorry about that odd mistake. Of course we will remove your name. I honestly do not know how it happened! With the curated content on The Hobbledehoy (which accounts for 99%) we don’t factcheck quotes or who the quotes are attributed to by the source. That piece (now removed from the Hobbledehoy) originally appeared in The Morning Advertiser. Cheers!


Richard writes:

Love your blog! It often creates a portal for me to go deeper, like Centralia today. I am so curious about where you live – in the UK or USA? I live where one of your links resides – Edmonds WA (Rick Steves). Great guy.
Cheers, Richard

Hi Richard!

I live in the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island, an hour south of Boston. I have had the pleasure of visiting Edmonds, Washington on several occasions. You are fortunate to live in such a warm, friendly, beautiful town with such a gorgeous view of the mountains and Puget Sound. Perhaps I will see you some evening at the Church Key Pub – which might be my favorite pub in the USA. Cheers!


Emma writes:

Hi there, I saw your page An abuse of power’: alarm grows over top Trump lieutenant’s military masquerade, and I wanted to thank you for supporting the Black community.
The events of last summer (BLM protests and COVID-19) saw many people rally to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, since summer ended, people forgot to keep sharing and supporting these businesses.
I just found a new article with links to more than 150 Black-owned businesses. I was so happy to see that people still care about helping these companies thrive!

The link is here

I think sharing this link on your page would be a great way to help your readers keep supporting Black-owned sites and stores. I think it will be a great addition to your site and that your audience will love this new resource!


Thank you in advance for your support, Emma

Hi Emma,

The Hobbledehoy believes Black Lives Matter and we hope our readers do as well. I’m pleased to share the link of 150 Black Owned Businesses.


Chris writes:

Hello Michael,

The Hobbledehoy is a marvelous haven for folk music and is responsible for introducing me to so many artists I had not previously known, or whom I had forgotten with the passing of time. It was on The Hobbledehoy that I first heard Little Nora Brown and for that I am forever grateful. A short time ago I fired off a track from BARDE’s 1977 album ‘Barde’ called ‘Fanny Power’. You kindly posted it on the HH site, for which many thanks .
It occurred to me to send the first two albums au complet for you to kick around as you see fit [ . . . ]

Hi Chris:

Always appreciate your comments and feedback on The Hobbledehoy. With the past year of Covid, the death of a parent, and moving from my home of 20 years, I got a bit behind on our scheduled posts. Soon I’ll be adding clips from your ‘Barde’ 1977 and ‘Images’ 1978, as well as your track notes.
Thank you very much for introducing your music to me and followers of The Hobbledehoy. And happy to read you enjoy the banjo of Little Nora Brown.


Sister Marie writes (in caps):

DEAR SIR,
YOU MY “D E A R” SIR. YOU ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!! BETTER THAN ALL THE REST, BETTER THAN ANYONE, ANYONE I’VE EVER MET!!!! I LOVE YOU!!! YOUR ARTICLE WILL GO VIRAL! WE NEED TO PRAY THE DEMON OUT OF OFFICE”

Hello there, Sister Marie!

My guess is that you are not the same Sister Marie I had in my 3rd grade Catholic School, as she was more discerning with her use of capital letters, and certainly did not regard me as “better than anyone.”
Nonetheless, it appears you did “pray the demon out of office,” and for this The Hobbledehoy are eternally grateful

HCR: Is Biden assuming the mantle of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American | April 13

HCR
Heather Cox Richardson

April 13, 2021

Today, the administration issued a proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week. It noted that Black American mothers die from pregnancy-related complications at two to three times the rates of White, Hispanic, Asian American, and Pacific Islander women, no matter what their income or education levels. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris declared their commitment to “building a health care system that delivers equity and dignity to Black, Indigenous, and other women and girls of color.”

There has been talk lately about President Biden assuming the mantle of Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who piloted the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. There is a lot to that. Biden is enthusiastically embracing the idea that the government has a role to play in regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure. That ideology has been on the ropes since voters elected President Ronald Reagan, who argued that the government pioneered by Roosevelt smothered business growth and stifled individualism by levying taxes for programs that Washington bureaucrats thought would benefit the nation.

Since he took office, Biden has used the government to help ordinary Americans. He began by ramping up coronavirus vaccines at an astonishing rate, and then got through Congress the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, designed to rebuild the economy after the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. Now he is turning to the American Jobs Plan, another massive package designed to remake American infrastructure as it creates high-paying jobs, just as FDR’s New Deal did.

Biden is clearly trying to undermine the Republican mantra that government is inefficient, and he is succeeding. His own chief of staff, Ron Klain, has made it a point to compare the two men.

But an article by Laura Barron-Lopez, Alex Thompson, and Theodoric Meyer in Politico begs to differ. Based on an interview with House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), the piece makes the argument that Biden is far more President Harry Truman than FDR. Unlike FDR, who constantly had to compromise with white southern Democrats to get his measures through Congress and thus had to back off on issues of racial justice, Truman worked to advance civil rights in the U.S. More like Truman than FDR, Biden has focused on addressing racial equity in his response to the various crises he has taken on in his first days in office.

To my mind, though, what jumps out about Biden and Harris is not their focus on either jobs or Black Americans, but rather their attention to the needs of children and mothers. Even before the pandemic, 21.4 million American women lived in poverty, as did nearly 11 million children, about 14.4% of kids under the age of 18.

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