The alarmist grifters have learned nothing... Plus the Racket's weekend roundup
The claims of tyranny are still coming
It seems pretty obvious that a lot of the blame for the domestic terror attack on the Capitol can be laid at the feet of “conservative” media. For months or years, sites and channels from Fox News to OANN to Newsmax to Breitbart have been filled with false angst about stolen elections, dead voters, malware in voting machines, masks, microchipped vaccines, socialism, tyranny, dogs and cats living together…
You might think that after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and left five people dead (the death toll may be considered to be six after a Capitol Police officer died from an apparent suicide over the weekend) that there would be some self-examination and introspection among the people who provoked the anger and fear that led to the attack. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
Many of you know that Steve and I also contribute to The First TV. I was disappointed at many of the new posts on The First after the riot. For example, one of the hosts carried, Mike Slater, claimed that the problem wasn’t so much the attack, but that Joe Biden was calling the attack an “insurrection.” Slater went on to say, “You can only say what happened on Wednesday was an insurrection if you have lived such a privileged life that you’ve never actually lived through an insurrection.”
When I look up the definition of “insurrection,” here is what I find:
a violent uprising against an authority or government
That’s a pretty dang accurate description of last Wednesday at the Capitol.
I was going to send the definition to Slater, but his Twitter account no longer exists. I don’t know if he deleted it and became a refugee to Parler or if he was banned.
Slater’s video isn’t the only post that has been problematic since Wednesday, but it does give me a segue to talk about social media Whether Slater was banned or not, Twitter and the other social media companies have been cleaning their houses of many of the accounts that blare fake news, preach insurrection, and promote violence. Appropriately, the accounts of Donald Trump, Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, and Lin Wood have joined the ranks of Twitter users who have been banned for life.
This has sparked more cries of “tyranny!” from some on the right. While I do agree that social media companies have gone too far and made bad decisions on who to ban (or who not to ban… Louis Farrakhan, I’m looking in your direction) at times, as I pointed out yesterday, access to Twitter is not a right.
Twitter is a private company that has the right to set and enforce its own rules. To say that an individual, even the president, has the right to a Twitter account and access to the Twitter platform is the same as saying that same-sex couples have a right to a wedding cake from the baker of their choosing. The Supreme Court decided with the baker on that question, by the way.
Now, things have moved further. Amazon is removing Parler from its web-hosting service, which means that the far-right social media network will likely cease to exist unless it can find a new host. Predictably, the usual suspects are calling this another case of tyranny. Among these voices is Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) who apparently does not see the irony in saying “Republicans have no way to communicate” as he is broadcast on a national television network.
On Friday, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) asked in a tweet after Facebook and Twitter starting purging accounts, “Are we living out some kind of dystopian novel this week?”
Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican whose objection to the Electoral College may have been one of the sparks that ignited the riot, called it “Orwellian” that his book deal was canceled.
Even Marco Rubio accused the social media companies of “having a small & unelected group with the power to silence & erase anyone.”
This sort of hyperbole is exactly the kind of talk that stirs people to take up arms and storm the Capitol and kill police (and attempt to kidnap governors and execute congressmen and vice presidents).
In reality, what we are seeing is consequences for bad actions. I don’t fault Twitter for removing the president. I have more of a problem with letting him stay too long after so many violations of the terms of service.
Likewise for Hawley. His book deal wasn’t canceled to silence a conservative voice. It was canceled because he is toxic after his actions in stoking Wednesday’s rebellion. The photo of Hawley with his fist raised in solidarity with the crowd demonstrating to overthrow a duly-elected government - and the Constitution with it - will hopefully haunt the Senator the rest of his career, which should be mercifully brief.
If Thomas Massie wants to talk about a dystopian present, he need look no further than the photos of the riot. Many pictures from the Capitol on Wednesday could be dystopian movie posters. This is especially true if they show Jake Angeli, the “QAnon Shaman,” who could be an extra from a “Mad Max” movie. Incidentally, Angeli is among those now in federal custody.
The bottom line here is that the social media purges are in response to criminal - sometimes treasonous - activity. These accounts were tolerated up until the point that they provoked a violent coup attempt.
The same is true of Parler’s ongoing demise. I’m not on Parler for obvious reasons, but Apple’s notification letter to Parler included screenshots of violent posts on the platform. One picture showed members of Congress ducking for cover during the riot with the caption, “Violence works, make them afraid.” The poster had added, “Make them hang.” Another post calls for “systematically assassinating” a long list of enemies. You can see these screenshots and read Apple’s full letter here. The @Parlertakes account on Twitter is also a good place to keep up with what’s going on in the cesspool without actually sticking your toe in.
From these posts, it is apparent that the social media purges are not just about punishment for taking part in or fomenting the Capitol riot but are an attempt to stop future attacks for which planning may already be in the works. To me, the most convincing argument for keeping Parler open is that it concentrates the crazy in one spot where it is easy for the FBI to monitor them. Remember that conspiracy to commit a crime is still a crime.
There is real crazy out there. Not all of the nutjobs are Trump supporters but right now there are enough crazy and potentially violent Trump supporters on the loose that the country is in real peril.
We got to this point because of systematic lies, i.e. fake news, over a period of years by conservative media and politicians. This predates Trump. Think back to claims that Obama was from Kenya, that Republicans sold out their party during the Obamacare shutdown, and the great Jade Helm martial law scare of 2015. While not all Republicans pushed these conspiracy theories, far too many stayed silent and didn’t call out the pundits and sites that cashed in from the dystopian fantasies.
Decent Republicans who put country over party or their personal finances and power should make it clear to their supporters instead of further inflaming the situation with even more heated rhetoric. I have disagreed with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on a lot in the past few years, but I salute him for calling out the grifters and liars in his party who are undermining our democracy.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that Americans had “a Republic if you can keep it.” I don’t think that we can keep it much longer if one (or both) sides habitually deceive and frighten their voters in order to maintain power. What we do next may be crucial for the survival of America as we know it.
If you took time out from politics over the weekend (and good for you if you did), the Racketeers teamed up for a very special podcast episode that discussed whether Donald Trump should be impeached again or the country should move on since he has less than two weeks in office. Listen to us here.
David and Steve also voiced their opinions on impeachment in parallel pieces. Steve argues for mercy while David says that Trump’s role in the Capitol attack cannot go unanswered.
In other articles, David debunks the MAGA claims that the riots were the work of Antifa provocateurs and, proving that great minds think alike, both David and Steve gave different takes on the social media debate. David explains that “freedom of speech is not freedom to tweet” while Steve looked at how social media purges are a necessary phase of “De-Trumpification.”
The Racket also presented a special guest perspective from David’s wife, Debi, who looked at how politics can cause pressure in a marriage. Don’t worry, it’s not autobiographical. We’re very happy. Really!
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It seems pretty obvious that things are going to get worse. Republicans are still out there pushing the lies. Now that they see actual punishments for these things it will only make things worse. And unfortunately things have to get worse. People need to see how violent and unstable 20 years of lies gets you. Freedom of speech is a great thing until the bodies start to pile up.