Tony Greenstein | 11 January 2021 | Post Views:

The Stench of Hypocrisy Hanging Over Capitol Hill Will Outlast Trump

Trump May be On His Way Out but America’s Far Right is Here to Stay 

When I listened to Chuck Schumer and the other hypocrites talking about the invasion of the Capitol building in Washington as an attack on ‘the temple of democracy’ it was difficult not to laugh. According to Joe Biden Congress was a ‘beacon of hope and light for democracy’. This is the political centre of the United States Empire, the place that has overseen the overthrow of Allende and the attempts to overthrow Castro, Chavez and many other radical leaders. It is the centre of corporate corruption, the place where lobbyists of all stripes ply their trade, the epicenter of support for tyranny the world over.

Congress is the enabler of Apartheid Israel, the initiator of attacks on any regime brave enough to stand up to Uncle Sam.

Most sickening of all the comments was the tweet of Christian Fundamentalist Secretary of State Mike Pompei

violence, putting at risk the safety of others including those tasked with providing security for all of us, is intolerable both at home and abroad

Does this, I wondered, apply to assassinations like that of Qasem Soleimani or the overthrow of the democratic President of Bolivia by a US trained and instructed military?

Of course it does have its amusing side. Trump in his determination to overturn the election result first tried to bludgeon the hapless Georgia Secretary of State Raffsenberger into ‘finding’ him an extra 17,000 votes. In Trump’s eyes the votes of those who cast their ballots are merely chips to be traded in return for favours.

Trump is not only a narcissist and sociopath who cannot distinguish between reality and fiction, truth and lies, but he has no sense of self awareness. But that is how he made it in the first place. Life is a reality show.

Having failed to ‘persuade’ any state into changing its election results, despite multiple court cases, Trump fell back on his last option – to pressurise his Vice President, the servile Christian bigot, his trained human puppy, Mike Pence, into unilaterally rejecting the decision of the electoral college. What had previously been a formality was now invested with a critical importance.

Pence, despite being a fundamentalist Christian, is not as stupid as he looks or at least not that stupid. If he had tried to abuse his position as Chair of Congress then there would have been, not only uproar in Congress but more importantly outside. It would literally have triggered a revolution and brought down the whole edifice of constitutional government in the United States.

Trump is addicted to his crooked habits of old. Everything for him is transactional and he must therefore feel a bitter sense of disappointment. Firstly the Supreme Court, a third of which he picked, didn’t return his favours by blocking Biden’s election and then Pence, who owes his position of Vice President to Trump, followed suit.

In Trump’s diseased mind, Pence owed everything to Trump. By what right did he refuse to obey Trump’s instructions?

This is the mentality of Trump but let us be clear, not only Trump. It’s how Congress operates. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. It’s pork barrel politics writ large. Ideology counts for little in this palace of a corrupt ruling class. The only difference is that most Congressmen and women are not so blatant and obvious about what they do. A few, like the Squad, are even honest!

The invasion on Capitol Hill was certainly violent with one video showing a cop screaming in agony as he was crushed between a door and the wall. But just imagine if this had been say a crowd of Black Lives Matter supporters. Does anyone imagine that the riot cops would have gently pushed back? There would have been a bloodbath and Trump would have been the first to congratulate the police.

The massed ranks of robo cops would have willingly gunned down anyone got within a hundred yards of Capitol Hill. But that wasn’t possible on Wednesday since Trump delayed the deployment of the National Guard.

Even Joe Biden accepted, having been sent a photo of soldiers guarding the Lincoln Memorial in June by his granddaughter, that

‘No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.’

Finally we saw in the wake of Wednesday’s riots Republicans dissociating themselves from Trump, though not enough to impeach him. Those who supported his racist rhetoric against Black Congresswomen who were told to ‘go back where you came from’, who were silent when Trump accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists, who supported his encouragement of police violence against BLM supporters, took fright when their own safety and security were endangered.

Trump, having summoned his far-Right rabble and encouraged them to be ‘wild’ eventually told the assorted White Supremacists, neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, QAnons, loony tunes and fruitcakes ‘Go home. We love you, you’re very special.’

It was very different last June with Black Lives Matter

Then when he realised that he had bitten off more than he could chew he backtracked and issued a video condemnation: “Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness, and mayhem,” Trump said, adding, “To those who broke the law: You will pay.” Lies come easily to the man who, the day before, told the mob how much he ‘loved’ them.

Clearly this wasn’t a voluntary statement and reports have since surfaced that he regrets issuing the video.

One suspects that it was issued on the instructions of Mike Pence who otherwise threatened to invoke the 25th Amendment removing Trump from office on the grounds of mental instability.

But the outrage amongst America’s corrupt politicians is not shared by the people. A full 45% of Republicans, a plurality, supported the attack on the capitol buildings. Trump may be leaving the White House but his legacy will live on. The far-Right has felt emboldened for the past 5 years.  Trump openly sponsored neo-Nazis and white supremacists like the Proud Boys whilst demonising anti-racists and anti-fascists.  No greater enemy did he have than Antifa and BLM. Yet the Republican Party stalwarts saw no reason to condemn his racism and the Democratic Party largely remained silent.

Trump will end his reign as the pathetic fascist he is. His final revenge will be to try and ensure the execution of as many prisoners on the federal death row as he can manage. This at a time when support for the death penalty in America is at an all time low. But let us remember, as Lisa Montgomery chokes to death on Tuesday, the first woman for over half a century to be executed at the Federal level, that it was Barack Obama who refused to commute her sentence and that of 61 other prisoners on death row. It was Bill Clinton who enacted the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act which widened the number of offences that could receive the death penalty and which expedited the appeal process.

They opened the door to the White Supremacists

One thing is for certain. Joe Biden will not arrest the process of widespread disdain for Congress and the corrupt politicians who inhabit Capitol Hill. Trump came to office promising to ‘drain the swamp’. The swamp still remains, indeed it has expanded but in the absence of a strong left in the United States the drift to the Right will continue.

The growth of the Democratic Socialists of America to over 100,000 members is encouraging. Likewise the election of members of the DSA such as Ilhan Omar, Rashid Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However they are likely to be sucked into the system unless the DSA becomes more than a loose association of well meaning social democrats. BLM has to abandon identity politics and embrace class politics and the DSA has to transform itself into a class struggle organisation that can appeal to Trump’s disenfranchised constituency, not least blue collar workers who have suffered the effects of globalisation and off shoring.

Biden will, in the wake of the pandemic, follow a policy of austerity and retrenchment. He has committed himself to vetoing a single payer, national health care system despite the fact that the pandemic has shown that the existence of a privatised health care system is contrary to the interests of capitalism.

The support of the United States for repression and violence abroad has come back home with a vengeance. Joe Biden is famous for ‘reaching across the aisle’ to the Republicans. The idea that he will restore the United States to ‘normality’ is a fantasy.

We should welcome the humiliation of Trump who was forced to promise a ‘smooth transition’ to the Biden Administration after having done his best to overturn the vote.

But there is one more thing that Wednesday’s vote has shown and that is the fact that the United States is not, even in a bourgeois sense, a democracy. Democratic rights in the USA are a thin skin on a turbulent and poisonously militarised society.

If Joe Biden had been a radical socialist, still less a Marxist, then Wednesday would have provided ample opportunity to overturn the vote. Congress could have rejected the electoral college votes on whatever spurious basis they cared to conjure up. The certification of votes at state level would have provided more opportunities for the two capitalist parties to reject any results that they didn’t like. The US Supreme Court demonstrated in 2000 that it is capable of ensuring the vote they want when they prevented a recount in Florida which went too late to Al Gore after Bush was declared President.

The US Constitution has checks and balances designed to obstruct the democratic will of the people. Wyoming with half a million people has two senators, the same number as California with nearly 40 million people. The Senate is at the apex of the lack of democracy in the United States’s political system. The obvious method of electing a President, counting the number of votes for each candidate was jettisoned in favour of an electoral college.

They brought a gallows, the symbol of lynching, to hang the ‘traitors’ in Congress

The Constitution is sclerotic and it is deliberately designed to be so. Supreme Court justices, who are political nominees, are there for life. There is now a 6-3 majority to make abortion illegal despite majority support for it in America. Congressional districts are purposely gerrymandered. The Republican Party openly seeks to suppress the votes of poor and Black people through a variety of means such as ID requirements (which Boris Johnson is trying to introduce here) and stipulations in some states that ex-felons cannot vote. Remember that one in three Black males sees the inside of the US prison estate.

Trump merely tried to step up the voter suppression by invalidating the mail-in ballots of those who, in the middle of a pandemic, wished not to risk their life in order to vote.

This is the democracy that that pathetic mannequin of a Labour Party leader , Keir Sturmer idolises. But whatever our views of the mob that attacked Capitol Hill on Wednesday, let us not pretend that they were attacking democracy.

Perhaps the most exquisite images of Wednesday’s events were seeing sweaters embroided with ‘Auschwitz camp’ and 6MWE (6 million was not enough) side by side with the Israeli flag. It is no coincidence that the last defiant supporter of Trump is Netanyahu. If America’s electorate had reflected opinion in Israel then he would have won by 70% to 13%. Trump has a settlement Trump Heights named after him. It is more than fitting that Israel should pay homage to the man who has done more to enable anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and White Supremacists than any other person on Earth.

See below for two articles on collusion between the White Supremacists and the Police and the support of Zionists for the White Riot.

Tony Greenstein

Partners in Crime: The Siege of the Capitol, Police and White Supremacy

That a throng of right-wing thugs, neo-Nazis, and insurrectionists were able to barge into the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday is, to make a severe understatement, troubling. Once again, American cops have expressed support for a right-wing insurrection and, in at least three cases, have taken part in the riot themselves. The obvious contrast between Wednesday’s display and the treatment that Black Lives Matter protesters often face is so easy that it risks obfuscating the long historical connection between law enforcement and white supremacy.

The events on Wednesday didn’t occur without violence and hostilities: U.S. Capitol Police announced on Thursday that one officer, who was injured in a confrontation with protesters, later died; four protesters were killed in the chaos—one of whom was shot by Capitol police. But the links between law enforcement officers and white supremacists groups are appalling—and not surprising.

Rightwing Zionist on the right besides Confederate Flag

On Wednesday evening, former Oakland Police Officer Jurell Snyder told Joe Vazquez, a reporter with the Bay Area’s KPIX television station, that he believed it was worthwhile to break the law in order to take a stand against Democrats who, in his mind, had sold out the country.

“What do you think is worse, Joe? Storming the Capitol with a flag, or committing treason against your country?” Snyder asked rhetorically.

Worse yet, on Wednesday, New York magazine reported that David Ellis, the current police chief in Troy, New Hampshire, attended the day’s events, though it’s unclear if he directly took part in the siege on the Capitol. And, late Thursday night, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees San Antonio, Texas, announced that Lt. Roxanne Mathai is under investigation both internally and criminally for posting photographs on Facebook from the riot. Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters Thursday that his office had forwarded the images to the FBI. San Antonio news station KSAT reported that Mathai has been on administrative leave since October due to allegations that she’d had an inappropriate relationship with an incarcerated person.

Not to be outdone, other cops announced their support for the siege on the internet. On Thursday, Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Mark Lamb posted a video on Facebook in which he expressed support for the rioters and said he doesn’t “know how loud we have to get before they start to listen to us.” He has since deleted the video.

Likewise, in an interview with Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ, John Catanzara, head of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police union lodge, expressed support for the mob and spouted debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.

Congressmen fleeing the mob

They’re individuals,” Catanzara said. “They get to do what they want. Again, they were voicing frustration. They’re entitled to voice their frustration. They clearly have been ignored and they’re still being ignored as if they’re lunatics and treasonous now, which is beyond stupid.”

A review by The Appeal shows that police forums are awash in misinformation and right-wing conspiracies about the Capitol riots. On Thee Rant, an anonymous forum for New York Police Department members, one user named “James-Bond007” claimed that “2016 was the last free and fair election that this country has seen.” Another user made the antisemitic remark that someone in the federal government had been paid off with “shekels.” On LEOAffairs, a forum popular with Florida police officers, one anonymous user in the Miami Police Department’s forum wrote that this election was “a push to start an agenda of future communism and dictatorship.”

That an angry mob of armed right-wing insurrectionists was able to so easily push itself into the U.S. Capitol is nightmarish on its face. But it may be a much darker fact to realize that quite so many people vested with the authority to kill others seem so willing to sympathize with those who dream of a violent revolt against the government.

This is, of course, a trend as old as American policing itself. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, police forces—which, in many cases, began as patrols to catch runaway slaves—counted scores of Ku Klux Klan members within their ranks. (In fact, Klansmen across the country routinely bragged about the group’s ties to law-enforcement during the terrorist group’s heyday.) In the 1920s, both Los Angeles County Sheriff William Traeger and Los Angeles Police Chief Louis D. Oaks admitted they’d been members of the so-called Invisible Empire as well. On America’s other coast, the Miami Police Department throughout the 1920s worked openly alongside Klan members to harass Black residents in the city’s segregated areas, Miami historian Paul George wrote in the 1979 journal article “Policing Miami’s Black Community, 1896-1930.”

In the years since the Klan fell from prominence, researchers and even the federal government have warned that white supremacists have continued to work closely with local cops. In 2017, The Intercept obtained documents confirming that the FBI had investigated “active links” between local law-enforcement members, white supremacists, and members of armed militia groups. Some of those “links” aren’t entirely secret: According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a worryingly large number of American sheriffs have expressed sympathies with the a group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a militia-adjacent group that pushes cops not to enforce gun-control laws that, in their opinion, violate the U.S. Constitution.

Indeed, CSPOA’s 2012 sheriff of the year—former Grant County, Oregon Sheriff Glenn Palmer—was known for his close ties with local militia groups. According to the SPLC, Palmer had repeatedly met with and expressed sympathies for the armed, right-wing insurrectionists led by Ammon Bundy who, in 2016, occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon.

Another CSPOA sheriff of the year, Dar Leaf of Barry County, Michigan, made headlines in October, after reporters exposed that he had shared a stage at an anti-coronavirus-lockdown rally with one of the men charged with attempting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. Speaking to West Michigan’s Fox affiliate, Leaf defended the men. He said he knew two of the accused plotters, but said he thought they were good people who might have been, in his opinion, trying to perform a citizens’ arrest on the governor.

“It’s just a charge, and they say a ‘plot to kidnap’ and you got to remember that,” Leaf astoundingly said. “Are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still in Michigan if it’s a felony, make a felony arrest.” In December, Leaf filed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud in 2020’s presidential election.

That police officers—who count massive numbers of Trump supporters in their ranks—treated a pro-Trump mob with kid gloves should surprise no one. Deeper than a question of policing, the event displayed American law enforcement’s centuries-long links to white supremacy.

At MAGA Rally, Israeli Flag and Neo-Nazis Co-Exist…Awkwardly

Richard Silverstein

If you’re Jewish (and even if you’re not) you may be wondering what the hell was going on with yesterday’s MAGA rally and Lootapalooza at the Capitol. And I’m not talking about the overall madness of hundreds of white Supremacists, neo-Nazis and Trump Kool Aid drinkers, who stormed the Capitol and made American democracy look like a beer-soaked frat party.

No, I’m talking about some closely related incidents of special interest to Jews. First, of course was the glaring presence of anti-Semites proudly bearing their “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirts or their “6MWE” (“Six million was not enough”) t-shirts. It almost goes without saying that Donald Trump’s most devoted followers are irredeemable anti-Semites. And of course, they’ve committed far worse acts against Jews in other settings than they did yesterday: like Pittsburgh, Poway and elsewhere.

But the real Twilight-Zone-stuff involved Jews who joined in the mayhem. Jews who overlooked the inherent anti-Semitism of the MAGA movement because it fulfils some higher sense of duty.

Exhibit A is Aaron Mostofsky, prominently featured in photographs yesterday donning a coonskin fur pelt, as another protester parades past him with a Confederate flag. He looked like a cross between a stoned-out freak and a Yiddishe Daniel Boone. When questioned, Aaron proudly identified himself and his hometown, Brooklyn. This enabled his relatives and NY reporters to expose his family background: his father is Judge Shlomo “Steven” Mostofsky of Kings County Supreme Court. The elder M is a power in Democratic Borough politics and former president of National Council of Young Israel.

I am disappointed but not surprised that while many are calling for the resignations of Sens. Cruz and Hawley for their role in that days proceedings, no one in the Brooklyn political or Jewish community has called for the Judge to consider his own position and acknowledge the evil perpetrated by his son. Nor has the elder Mostofsky made any statement that I’m aware of. He’s refused to comment to reporters who’ve repeatedly sought him out.

Worth noting here is that Young Israel is on the extreme right end of the modern Orthodox movement. It not only ardently supports Israel’s right wing government and Israeli settlements, it was among the first Jewish supporters of Trump’s candidacy. Young Israel threw a gala fundraising event honoring Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, close associates of Rudy Giuliani. Also present were Kevin McCarthy, Mike Huckabee and Giuliani. Hebrew MAGA caps were prominently featured. Among the epithets bestowed that night on the candidate were “Trump, King of Israel.” I don’t know if Judge Mostofsky attended this shindig, but as a past National Council president he very well may have. Only in New York Orthodox Jewish politics could someone be a leader of a Jewish group supporting Trump while being a fixture in the local Democratic Party.

Many New York Orthodox Jews live in majority minority communities in New York. Though relations have been better with local African-American and Hispanics over the past few decades, some of the most conservative of Orthodox Jews continue to mouth racist tropes regarding their neighbors. They view them in much the same way that MAGA and White supremacists view them: with fear and loathing. That may be what fuels the hate of some Orthodox Jews like Mostofsky.

Mostofsky’s brother, Nachman, attended the rally. But he claims he did not enter the Capitol building. Nachman is a local district leader and head of the South Brooklyn Conservative Party. In an interview, he blamed the incursion on Antifa, a concoction invented by far-right conspiracists. He is also the executive director of the political arm of Young Israel, Chovevei Zion, which is all-in for Trump and his agenda.

There was another anomalous sight at yesterday’s “festivities.” There among the fluttering flags of MAGA, ‘Trump is My President,’ and Old Glory was the Israeli flag. What was it doing in such a setting? Again, how does an American Jew fly that flag in that place and think it’s an appropriate thing to do?

To understand the answer you have to grasp several complex and contradictory ideas at once. Both anti-Semites and Zionists often make a distinction between Israel and Jews. Jews, especially those in the Diaspora, are bad. Israel is good.

How do they make such a distinction? Anti-Semites who admire Israel, separate it from Jews. They admire Zionism not just as a form of nationalism, but as a movement that proudly boasts of its exclusiveness. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people; just as white supremacists want a state for the white race. In this sense, race and religion become almost interchangeable.

When neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer visit Israel as he has, he marvels at the Judeo-supremacy he sees both in Israel proper and in occupied Palestine. A state offering superior rights to Jews and which has expelled huge numbers of non-Jews is music to his ears. He sees Zionism as the same fight he is mounting within American society to separate from non-whites and empower his own race by demanding sovereignty. He told an Israeli TV interviewer this:

“As an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identify, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogous feelings about whites.  I mean, you could say that I’m a white Zionist in the sense that I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland that for us and ourselves just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”

It’s no accident that Bibi Netanyahu’s closest political allies in Europe are anti-Semites: Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Andrzej Duda. It’s also no accident that almost all the Jews in these two countries were exterminated by the Nazis with varying levels of collaboration from local officials. European anti-Semites hate the Jews among them, but love Jews who emigrate to Israel. Because they live in exactly the sort of state these national-supremacists want for themselves: a sovereign state for pure Hungarians or Poles. One that excludes non natives like Roma, Jews, Muslims or African refugees. It is, ironically, the same reason Adolf Eichmann said that if he were a Jew he too would be a Zionist.

The most troubling aspect of this increasing alliance between Israel’s dominant right-wing and its European counterparts is that Israel is rapidly becoming precisely the sort of state Germany was under the Nazis. The same fascist tendencies; the same repression of speech and individual liberty; the same impulse to eliminate enemies, both internal and external; the same readiness to make war as a means of pursuing national interests.

When you look at yesterday’s developments with these phenomena in mind what seems strange becomes clear.

The Police Enabled the Far-Right Mob That Violently Stormed the Capitol Building

Riotous Republican Lawmakers

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Tony Greenstein

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