January 6

Three years. Three years ago we didn’t know about the fake electors. Most of us didn’t realize that Mike Pence had been pushed to reject the electoral ballots and send the decision back to the states. It was a few days before we appreciated how violent the riot in the capitol had really been.

Ed Kilgore makes the point that, three years ago, the majority of Republian politicians were alarmed and disgusted about January 6. Now they’ve come to love it. It was just a demonstration. It was a demonstration that injured at least 140 law enforcement officers. It caused or contributed to the deaths of nine people. It was an attempt to use violence to keep Trump in power after he lost a fair election

Since then, MAGA has escalated. About a third of Republicans now believe the FBI was behind the “riot.” Trump still wants you to know he won the 2020 election. If anything, he has escalated the crazy. I haven’t seen the ad, but The Messenger reports that Trump has a new video ad in which the voiceover claims God made Trump to lead the nation.

The ad, which has a run-time of two minutes and 44 seconds and was shared on Trump’s social media network Truth Social, alleges that God created the former president for the purpose of leading the nation.

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, fix this country, work all day, fight the Marxists, eat supper, then go to the Oval Office, and stay past midnight at a meeting of the state, so God made Trump,” the narrator says.

You’d think God would have noticed that in his first term Trump liked to spend most of his days watching television. It was widely reported that his “workday” started at 11 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. Messenger also points out that Ron DeSantis made a similar ad in 2022 to win re-election as governor. But it earned him some ridicule, too. This is the sort of ad that would turn off most people, I think.

I’ve been reading the Tim Alberta book The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism. Talk about escalation. Evangelical Christianity in the U.S. has long had its freak show elements — think snake handling — but they used to be tucked away in rural America. But now the freak show is televised, and getting freakier. Alberta went around the country reporting on churches large and small, and part of the story he tells is that evangelical church-goers are leaving “traditional” Christianity and flocking to churches that offer a heavily politicized Christianity that conflates Christianity with America and Jesus with Trump. Or else they want one with big entertainment value.

One very poignant story he tells is about a pracher who had built a hugely successful megachurch near Kansas City. And then at some point he “found Jesus” and realized what he was offering was spiritual junk food. He began to preach sermons that were based on actual Christian theology, and his parishoners deserted him. Now he gets a handful of people to show up for service in his huge, empty church, when he used to get thousands.

I believe I may have mentioned the reports of parishoners refjecting the Sermon on the Mount for being too “woke.”

Organizations that keep track of these things, like Pew, say there is significant movement away from Christianity in the U.S. In 1972, 90 percent of Americans identified as Christian, Now it’s about 64 percent. Evangelicalism claims to be growing, but what’s happening is that they’re getting a bigger share of the shrinking number of Christians. Alberta quotes Christians blaming “the Democrats” and “the Left” and demonic forces — all the same thing, apparently — for this decline. And to “fight back,” they are escalating the freak. They’re going all out on anti-LGBTQ, misogyny, and Trump.  And then they wonder why so many people don’t like them. Must be a plot!

At the junction of Trump’s plot to become President for Life and the Evangelical freak show is Mike Johnson.

As reporting from the fall showed, Johnson has deep ties to a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation—a network of politically ambitious church leaders, largely pulled from a kind of Christianity called Neo-Charismatic Pentecostalism. NAR leaders (typically known as “apostles”) have been credited with stoking the large and influential Christian nationalist contingent at the Jan. 6 insurrection. …

… The Neo-Charismatics are part of the Christian right, but it’s different from the old Christian right. The Christian right with the Moral Majority in the 1980s was about certain social conservative values. These people are not the same, because we’re in the world of spiritual warfare, where your adversaries are literally understood as being under the influence of demons.

This crew is part of the Christian Right, but they’re more dangerous than the old Jerry Falwell Sr. Christian Right. The New Charismatics think that they are obligated to fight physical war against their enemies, since their enemies are demons. It’s okay to kill gay people and liberals and what not. The New Charismatics aren’t being held back from mass homicide by religious scruples as much as by the criminal justice system.

It’s okay to bear false witness against Joe Biden and other Democrats because you’re serving a greater good, which is, um, power for Republicans and for Trump. Because they’ll stop abortions, see. That’s all that matters. And that’s why they support sleezebags like Trump and Herschel Walker, whose campaign Alberta analyzes. That Walker actually pushed girlfriends into getting abortions doesn’t register. All that matters is getting power.

This year we’re going to see if Trump can evade the criminal justice system and win another term. And if those things happen, I don’t see how the damage can be undone.

Here’s a hopeful note from Jamelle Bouie.

What’s been lost — or if not lost then obscured — in the constant attention to Trump’s voters, supporters and followers is that the overall American electorate is consistently anti-MAGA. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016. The MAGA-fied Republican Party lost the House of Representatives in 2018. Trump lost the White House and the Republican Party lost the Senate in 2020. In 2022, Trump-like or Trump-lite candidates lost competitive statewide elections in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Republicans vastly underperformed expectations in the House, winning back the chamber with a razor-thin margin, and Democrats secured governorships in Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin, among other states. Democrats overperformed again the following year, in Kentucky and Virginia.

“Since 2016,” wrote Michael Podhorzer, a former political director for the A.F.L.-C.I.O., in a post for his newsletter last summer, “Republicans have lost 23 of the 27 elections in the five states everyone agrees Democratic hopes in the Electoral College and the Senate depend on.”

If that trend continues this year, then there’s hope we can restore something approximating sanity.

17 thoughts on “January 6

  1. My experience of charismatic Pentecostals is they're a lot about speaking in tongues, which isn't a lot different, IMO from consorting with demons, letting demons speak through you. And so I'm not surprised at charismatics projecting this onto their opponents.

    What's demonic is the hate-for-profit industry – taking legitimate differences between people, and exaggerating them, fanning hate. In rhetoric, this is called a strawman argument, where you take your opponent's position, distort it, and easily argue against it, a strawman. It's right-wing propaganda's stock-in-trade. And so you can't have an honest conversation about anything until you clear away the other party's misconceptions, which is exhausting, and one effect of barricading people behind lies.

    Expect things to get really crazy in the run-up to Trump's conviction, and then some.

    We just have to hold fast, the numbers and the law are mostly on our side. We don't need to win every case, just enough of them. Let the kooks go crazy, as Yogananda said, "Evil will destroy itself".

     I like what Scott Galloway wrote in his predictions for 2024:

    The truth of presidential politics is that the voters who actually decide elections — swing voters, independents, etc. — don’t pay attention to politics. That’s why they are swing voters, because they don’t spend three and a half years in a hermetically sealed echo chamber. It’s likely when they head to their polling place we’ll have low inflation, high employment, a strong economy, conflicts around the globe that don’t involve U.S. troops, and a GOP nominee who’s been convicted by a jury of his peers for crimes against the United States.

    The evidence for that last prediction will be submitted at three separate trials, and the odds of beating all three are terrible: Defendants accused of federal felonies have only a 30% chance of avoiding prison time in just one trial — beating the rap in three trials comes in at a 2.7% probability (30% * 30% * 30%).

    Galloway may be wrong about the number of trials that occur before the election, but I would bet on at least one conviction before November unless things go awry.

    Last night, I was watching a biography of Thomas Merton, a well-known Catholic monk and social activist from the 1960s, the antithesis of the right-wing crap that's destroying the Christian church. It deserves to die.

  2. "The ad, which has a run-time of two minutes and 44 seconds and was shared on Trump’s social media network Truth Social, alleges that God created the former president for the purpose of leading the nation."

    Forgive me I know I'm supposed to read the whole post before commenting. But. If we had an honest news media in this country they would show that ad in its entirety, the whole thing, over and over again. Stump creates these spectacles because he knows how the coverage will be edited, they won't show the whole clip. Only a portion and somehow it always works for him. Show the whole fucking crazy rant, over and over. I really think 70% of the country would be sickened by it.

    "You’d think God would have noticed that in his first term Trump liked to spend most of his days watching television."

    The GOP know they have run out of logic and ceded the moral high ground long ago. The only thing they have left is bargain basement evangelical Christianity. They know they are losing so Jesus is the last hope. Just like a drunk out of wine. What sucks is it just might work, all they need is hopelessness. It works for the Churches.

    We all watched J6 on the tee-vee, live for hours, every bit of it. I was outraged that it went on for ever, no teargas, no swat teams, no bullets, had the flag waivers been black or brown, well we all know. Anyway I comforted myself knowing that Stump had fucked his legacy up for all of history. I told my Wife well at least he never recovers from this, he's fucking toast. Yet here we are according to the networks that won't play that insane ad in it's entirety the race is neck and neck!



  3. So much hangs on the outcome of the 2024 election. Biden isn't hanging back.

    "Today we're here to answer the most important of questions. Is democracy still America's sacred cause? I mean it. This is not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical. Whether democracy is still America's sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time. That's what the 2024 election is all about."

    "What's Trump done? Instead of calling them criminals, he's called these insurrectionists patriots … and he promised to pardon them if he returned to office. Trump said that there was a lot of love on January 6. The rest of the nation, including law enforcement, saw a lot of hate and violence."

    "He tried to rewrite the facts of January 6. Trump is trying to steal history the same way he tried to steal the election."

    People love courtroom drama. The closing scene from "A Few Good Men" may forever define Jack Nicholson's massive career. Trump has bet his future that he can convince voters that Jan 6 was a fraud perpetrated by the FBI an agency Trump was in charge of on Jan 6! I agree with Moonbat that the odds of Trump walking away with a not-guilty verdict are slim to none. There are no limits to what Trump won't do to prevent the trials from happening. Because people will follow the drama of a trial. People who aren't sure if the federal government is railroading Trump will tune in, they will read, and they will chat – online and in person. People tend to respect the rigor of a courtroom. They *get* that there are rules and there's an umpire (called a judge) to ensure the game is played by the rules. The verdict is rendered by regular citizens. That sentiment is reflected in polls about a trial.

    Last summer, 45% of Republicans said they would not vote for Trump if he was convicted of a felony. I've seen more recent polls that suggest 25%. I think voters will pay attention to the details – they did decades ago in the OJ Simpson murder trial. Trump is a lot more significant than a retired football star – the trial results could send a billionaire to prison for life. Far more important than the percentage of Republicans who would pass on Trump is the percentage of Independent voters. The Indi voters outnumber Democrats or Republicans.  

    I'm open to input on this but having Kennedy run may not be a bad thing if he siphons off large numbers of Republicans and Independents. I don't think he'll win a single state but a lot of conservatives think he's sweet. I don't expect a voter who is interested in Trump will ever vote for Biden. Some will not vote. Some will leave the top slot on their ballot blank. But some will vote for a third-party candidate who Democrats detest. Kennedy is an ambitious idiot who wants to finish the election as strong as possible. If Trump is wounded by the trial(s) and Kennedy sees MAGA as the best source of votes, that's where he will go even if Kennedy's sponsors intended for Kennedy to kneecap Biden.

    Yes, there are critical issues. Abortion on a lot of ballots will again drive turnout in our favor. Immigration is going to come up. Dreamers are STILL in limbo. The economy and unemployment are (cross my fingers) gonna be peachy. We will have a series of reductions in the Prime Interest Rate. (which Biden does not control.) I'd bet money that the oil companies will jack up prices but otherwise, this should be good for Biden. (Nice if we can get the media to cover it straight up.) It's mostly out of our hands in the US but if there's a serious peace proposal to end the conflict in Gaza with a view toward autonomy for Gaza. Id\'d be ecstatic. (The reasons it might be possible is that Europe is pissed at Israel, the Arab states are in peril if there's conflict that threatens the flow of oil. So Europe and the Arab states might broker something that a new regime in Israel would consider when/if the alternative is an organized boycott of goods to and from Israel. Biden might privately back such a deal while the US postures that they are on the outside.) But I digress.

    The election IMO is gonna come down to a mandate on January 6. Either you believe the evidence or you deliberately buy into a fantasy to put a tyrant in authority and flush free and fair elections in the US for the foreseeable future. After the trial(s) nobody will have an excuse to a neutral position about what J5 was. It's gonna be the trials. (The GOP is planning to counter-program with hearings about Hunter Biden. I have serious reservations that the GOP will hang together to impeach unless somebody finds some concrete evidence. After they try to whip the votes that aren't there, I think they will retreat to endless hearings and accusations, leaving impeachment open in theory. And that won't get traction against the Trump trials in the media.)

  4. A while back, when Tim Alberta was doing his appearances on multiple MSNBC shows, I got a good sense of his book.  Thought about getting it, but haven't yet, so thanks to Maha for working through it. Because even long before our current troubles I have believed that any fusion of dogmatic religion with political aspirations is likely to be toxic and a major threat to society. To me, theocracy is bad. And the current state of things in the US in this vein is an extremely dangerous condition (what this thread is about).

    What Alberta's book is about is extremely important. TFG would not have had any chance at all in 2016 without the support of the radical Christian evangelical movement.  Which is an absolute perversion of Christianity. And TFG knows full well that the only way he can avoid prison is to become POTUS again. He can't do that without the support of the Christian hard right. His coalition is a hodgepodge of Evangelicals, Christian Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, Islam-o-phobes, anti-LBGTQ, Libertarians (tax cheaters), and other similar anti-social groups. And if they get in power, we are toast.  I could go on and on about the televangelist phenomenon in the US which is just a shameful example of con men exploiting those with weak self-esteem. 

    Moonbat, I like your post above and I took a quick look at the wiki article on Yogananda… very interesting. And to the point. During my college years, Joseph Cambell's book "Hero With a Thousand Faces" was very popular…a similar theme about the commonality of the worlds religions. He actually focused on "mythologies", but I'm comfortable that religious beliefs have overlap there in a Venn diagram. I believe that all of the world religions in their non-perverse forms basically focus on the idea that human beings do not benefit from conflict with other human beings, but rather benefit from cooperating with other human beings. Most of the prohibitions are about lying stealing and killing.  

    There are many nations in the world that would benefit from, or believe that they would benefit from, weakening the US by dividing the US population against itself. Within our country, despite their protestations that we liberals are dividing the country, it is the hard right that is driving division.  Waco, the Bundy's, Charlottesville, etc. etc. etc. 

    If TFG manages to delay enough of his trials, then our only hope is the election, and we must not be complacent (although I always appreciate the commentary from Doug and Dad that reminds me of the positives). cheeky  We must all be involved somehow (how?) and not waste time trying to sway the die-hards, but rather we must do our best to try to work the media so that the moderate conservatives figure out that the Dems are not their enemies.      

    • If TFG manages to delay enough of his trials, then our only hope is the election

      Even if TFG is tried and convicted, it could all be for naught if he wins (or steals) the election. As Teri Kanefield wrote, "Democracy contains a self-destruct button. At any time, enough voters can elect officials who promise to dismantle democratic institutions".

      And so the trials are welcome, but not the final answer. The election is.

    • My understanding is that when it comes to domestic disputes it's like playing tic-tac-toe. The one who makes the first move usually wins the game. Hubby called the police first, so I think he got the drop on her. She's going to go out in a blaze of glory. Her future political aspirations are hitting the wall.

  5. Trump made an off-the-wall comment this weekend that's been discussed but IMO, not in the context it was delivered. Straight-up, Trump said that Lincoln could have averted the Civil War if he'd been willing to negotiate with the South. First, this is wrong, historically and ethically. 

    The South split from the North because the westward expansion and addition of new territories that were becoming free – not slave – states spelled the end of slavery. It was a matter of when and how the evil of slavery would end. That's if the states that became the Confederacy continued to be subject to the federal government. Rather than being subject to the will of the majority and the law passed by the majority, they flipped over the table and quit the game. Set aside slavery for a moment, as Nikki did. The question is whether you have to live by the rules passed properly by the majority OR you refuse to be subject to rules you disagree with. 

    Confederate thinking, then and now, is defined by the most recent elections. In 2016, HRC got three million more votes than Trump. Yet she conceded because she lost the Electoral College. In 2020, Trump lost by seven million votes AND the Electoral College. SO he flipped over the table just like the Confederacy and sponsored an insurrection.

    Look at the other side. The overwhelming majority are outraged by the abortion ban movement authorized legally by the reversal of Roe. It's being fought in the courts and with ballot initiatives. I'm pissed about Roe, but I'm not even considering flipping over the table. But I will vote. (I also support non-violent civil disobedience.)

    Going back to Trump's comment about Lincoln… Trump views himself as the leader of the new Confederacy. I interpret the comment about Lincoln as an invitation to negotiate. A MAGA cultist might think Trump wants to negotiate about the border, or the deficit, or states' rights. Pardon me for being cynical but Trump is concerned with legal action that's bleeding him for millions every month. And he's losing.

    In civil suits alone, this month alone, Trump may get nicked for 500 million. Then we shift to criminal cases. I doubt Trump will get jail time for falsifying business records re Stormy Daniels but I can believe the sentence will nearly max out the dollar penalty for a Class 3 felony. If Trump can't stop the NY J6 trial, that WILL end his bid for the presidency and it will put Trump behind bars. (Before or after appeals are exhausted, I don't know.) If I was Trump, I'd be really frightened of the GA trial. A conviction for RICO carries a 20-year minimum that even a Republican president can't pardon. (Neither can a Republican governor in GA under the GA Constitution.) As I read the comments of Miss Deepthroat Habba, Trump's principal lawyer and stress-relief specialist,  they're concerned the USSC won't come through for Trump this month. So I read the comments as an invitation by Trump to "negotiate" in order to avert a Civil War.

    The idea of negotiating away the trials is ridiculous. Biden isn't actually "behind" any of the prosecutions. He didn't start them and he can't stop them. Looking just at the two federal cases, the A/G farmed it out to a Special Counsel to add another barrier to political interference. I don't think that Garland and Smith talk a lot but I think Smith would scream bloody murder if Garland did try to interfere. The NY criminal case is in NY, independent of the federal cases and the GA case. Congress tried to insert themselves into both cases and they were. in legal terms. told to inseminate themselves. So Trump imagines this is all a grand conspiracy and somewhere there's a puppeteer in charge. 

    I'll go one step further. Trump thinks he can fool the puppeteer if he can negotiate. Trump's goal is to win the election and become dictator. At that point, especially if Trump now knows who the puppeteer is, the revenge can begin. But Trump will lose the election badly if all the truth comes out in court, in DC, and in GA. Trump's MO with a contract was always to get what he wanted and then stiff the other party for what Trump is obligated to. This is still his MO. 

    If Trump thinks he can "negotiate" his way out of trials, expect him to ramp up talk of a Civil War to create something of value in Trump's hand that Trump can negotiate with. So far, the offer has gone past everyone so I expect Trump to become more direct. As if he ever understood subtlety. 

    • Interesting analysis.  I think you're right about the negotiation thing.  He really is kind of a one trick pony.  Anyway your comments triggered some piggy backing on my part. 

      He is terrified of prison.  (Who wouldn't be?) So he has plan A, plan B, plan C etc. and the initial ones in that sequence are realistic despite being long odds.  But at a certain point, I figure he transitions into a fantasy land where, after all else fails, he does everything he can to burn the house down.  "A house divided cannot stand?"  How about a house burned down can't house anyone. 

  6. The MAGA evangelical idiots should be glad that there is no sentient God lurking about. If there was, Trump would be hit with a defamation lawsuit from that God that would make Giuliani's 148 million dollar judgement pale by comparison. You'd think that any Christian who worships a God of justice and majesty as is portrayed in the bible would be offended by Trump's biased and petty interpretation of the nature and character of their God. Just goes to show you something ain't right.


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