Jonathan Rauch and Peter Wehner | What’s Happening on the Left Is No Excuse for What’s Happening on the Right – The New York Times

“American democracy has often confronted hostile forces from outside the United States; rarely has it been under as much of a threat from forces within the nation. The danger arises from illiberalism on the left and the right. Both sides are chipping away at the foundations of the American Republic; each side seems oblivious to its own defects.

Again and again, we have heard conservatives argue that even if you believe that Donald Trump is flawed and the MAGA movement is worrisome, the left is much more dangerous. We disagree. Fears about the left’s increasingly authoritarian, radical tendencies are well grounded; but they have blinded many conservatives to the greater danger posed by the right, which we believe is a threat to our constitutional order and therefore to conservatism itself.”

Jonathan Stevenson and Steven Simon | We Need to Think the Unthinkable About Our Country – The New York Times

“A right-wing minority — including many elected politicians — is now practicing a form of brinkmanship by threatening to unilaterally destroy American democracy, daring what they hope is a timid and somnolent majority to resist them. But that majority has the benefit of warning ahead of 2024.

It behooves us to prepare our defenses for the worst. Understandably, the policy focus is now on pre-empting a right-wing steal in the next national election. But success will depend crucially on factors that are beyond control — the midterm elections this year and the identity of the Republican candidate in 2024 — which suggest that focus is misplaced. And even if a steal is thwarted, success might not preclude a coercive challenge of the election results; quite to the contrary, it would provoke one.

War games, tabletop exercises, operations research, campaign analyses, conferences and seminars on the prospect of American political conflagration — including insurrection, secession, insurgency and civil war — should be proceeding at a higher tempo and intensity. Scholars of American politics need to pick up the torch from experts on the democratic decline in Europe, who first raised the alarm about growing dangers to American politics. The very process of intellectual interaction and collaboration among influential analysts of different political stripes could reconcile many of them to the undesirability of political upheaval, and thus decrease its likelihood.

The overarching idea is, publicly and thoroughly, to probe just how bad things could get precisely to ensure that they never do, and that America’s abject political decay is averted.” -30-

Bret Stephens | What Putin Really Wants From the Ukraine Crisis – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Grave may have been the mistakes of Donald Rumsfeld, but George W. Bush’s first defense secretary did have a gift for memorable phrases. One of them — “weakness is provocative” — explains the predicament we again find ourselves in with Russia’s belligerence against Ukraine and NATO.

Let’s recap how we got here.

■ In August 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two of its provinces. The Bush administration protested but did almost nothing. After Barack Obama won the White House that fall, he pursued a “reset” with Russia. In 2012, he cut U.S. force levels in Europe to their lowest levels in postwar history and mocked Mitt Romney for calling Russia our principal geopolitical threat.

■ In September 2013, Obama famously retreated from his red line against Bashar al-Assad’s use of nerve gas in Syria, accepting instead a Russian offer of mediation that was supposed to have eliminated al-Assad’s chemical arsenal. That arsenal was never fully destroyed, but Vladimir Putin took note of Obama’s palpable reluctance to get involved.

■ In February 2014, Russia used “little green men” to seize and then annex Crimea. The Obama administration protested but did almost nothing. Russia then took advantage of unrest in eastern Ukraine to shear off two Ukrainian provinces while sparking a war that has lasted seven years and cost more than 13,000 lives. Obama responded with weak sanctions on Russia and a persistent refusal to arm Ukraine.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
First I liked Bret’s arguments, but then Frank chimed in with a longer more sophisticated view. “Play the long game because that is how you will win. Move the economies of the world to renewables and watch them fall. If Putin choses to invade make sure he and his oligarch’s can’t shop in Milan ,Rome, Paris etc. Watch them squirm.”
It is awful, but both are right. And so is the commenter who pointed out, this is Europe’s neighbor, not really our problem. I would like to see Germany take the lead, by reversing its decision to get rid of all nuclear power, and follow the French, into the new, modern, and safer than before, nuclear energy era, to really tie Putin and his shaky economy into knots. In the short run, the new nuclear energy plant designs are the safest way for Europe to lose its dependency on Russian oil and gas. Without the sale of such products, the birds are singing, Putin has a problem. Apparently his GNP is now estimated at about $1.5 trillion, larger than that of Florida, $1.2 trillion, but smaller than that of New York, $1.9 trillion.
David Lindsay is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” a novel about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6 – justsecurity.org – NYU Law School

I learned about this disturbing article from Shermandigest.wordpress.com.

“One of the most vexing questions about Jan. 6 is why the National Guard took more than three hours to arrive at the Capitol after D.C. authorities and Capitol Police called for immediate assistance. The Pentagon’s restraint in allowing the Guard to get to the Capitol was not simply a reflection of officials’ misgivings about the deployment of military force during the summer 2020 protests, nor was it simply a concern about “optics” of having military personnel at the Capitol. Instead, evidence is mounting that the most senior defense officials did not want to send troops to the Capitol because they harbored concerns that President Donald Trump might utilize the forces’ presence in an attempt to hold onto power.

According to a report released last month, Christopher Miller, who served as acting Secretary of the Defense on Jan. 6, told the Department’s inspector general that he feared “if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest Constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War.” In congressional testimony, he said he was also cognizant of “fears that the President would invoke the Insurrection Act to politicize the military in an anti-democratic manner” and that “factored into my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our Armed Forces to support civilian law enforcement during the Electoral College certification.”

Miller does not specify who held the fears that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act, and he wasn’t asked by Congress. However, it’s now clear that such concerns were shared by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as former CIA Director and at the time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Before Nov. 3, Milley and Pompeo confided in one another that they had a persistent worry Trump would try to use the military in an attempt to hold onto power if he lost the election, the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reported. “This military’s not going to be used,” Milley assured Pompeo.”

Source: Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6

Biden transcript and video: Read the president’s Jan. 6 speech : NPR

“Without uttering former President Donald Trump’s name, President Biden issued a scathing critique of his predecessor on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Biden condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol, undertaken by Trump supporters one year ago, and said Trump himself spun a “web of lies” about the 2020 presidential election that fueled the violence.

Read a full transcript of Biden’s remarks below. Follow live updates of the day’s events here.”


Madam Vice President, my fellow Americans: to state the obvious, one year ago today, in this sacred place, Democracy was attacked. Simply attacked. The will of the people was under assault. The Constitution, our constitution faced the gravest of threats. Outnumbered in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard and other brave law enforcement officials saved the rule of law. Our democracy held. We the people endured. We the people prevail.

For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such attack never, never happens again.

Source: Biden transcript and video: Read the president’s Jan. 6 speech : NPR

Merrick Garland Vows to Pursue Jan. 6 Inquiry ‘at Any Level’ – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Facing criticism from Democrats and a few Republicans to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for his role in inspiring the riot at the Capitol, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland vowed on Wednesday that the Justice Department would pursue wrongdoing “at any level,” saying he would defend democratic institutions from attack and threats of violence.

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Mr. Garland said in a speech to commemorate the anniversary of the riot, when Mr. Trump’s supporters ransacked the Capitol in a bid to stop the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory.”

Thomas Friedman | How to Stop Trump and Prevent Another Jan. 6 – The New York Times

“. . . .  I love that phrase — unexpected truths. We have launched a space telescope that can peer far into the universe to discover — with joy — unexpected truths.

Alas, though, my joy is tempered by those two other stories, by the fact that here on Earth, in America, one of our two national parties and its media allies have chosen instead to celebrate and propagate alternative facts.

This struggle between those seeking unexpected truths — which is what made us great as a nation — and those worshiping alternative facts — which will destroy us as a nation — is THE story on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurgency, and for the coming year. Many people, particularly in the American business community, are vastly underestimating the danger to our constitutional order if this struggle ends badly.

If the majority of G.O.P. lawmakers continue to bow to the most politically pernicious “alternative fact” — that the 2020 election was a fraud that justifies empowering Republican legislatures to override the will of voters and remove Republican and Democratic election supervisors who helped save our democracy last time by calling the election fairly — then America isn’t just in trouble. It is headed for what scientists call “an extinction-level event.”

Only it won’t be a comet hurtling past the Webb telescope from deep space that destroys our democracy, as in the new movie “Don’t Look Up.”

No, no — it will be an unraveling from the ground up, as our country, for the first time, is unable to carry out a peaceful transfer of power to a legitimately elected president. Because if Donald Trump and his flock are able in 2024 to execute a procedural coup like they attempted on Jan. 6, 2021, Democrats will not just say, “Ah shucks, we’ll try harder next time.” They will take to the streets.

Right now, though, too many Republicans are telling themselves and the rest of us: “Don’t look up! Don’t pay attention to what is unfolding in plain sight with Trump & Company. Trump won’t be the G.O.P.’s candidate in 2024.”

Who will save us?

God bless Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republican House members participating on the Jan. 6 investigation committee. But they are not enough. Kinzinger is retiring and the G.O.P. leadership, on Trump’s orders, is trying to launch Cheney into deep space.

I think our last best hope is the leadership of the U.S. business community, specifically the Business Roundtable, led by General Motors C.E.O. Mary Barra, and the Business Council, led by Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella. Together those two groups represent the roughly 200 most powerful companies in America, with 20 million employees. Although formally nonpartisan, they lean center-right — but the old center-right, the one that believed in the rule of law, free markets, majority rule, science and the sanctity of our elections and constitutional processes.

Collectively, they are the only responsible force left with real leverage on Trump and the Republican lawmakers doing his bidding. They need to persuade their members — now — not to donate a penny more to any local, state or national candidate who has voted to dismantle the police or dismantle the Constitution.”

David Lindsay Jr: Great column, Thomas Friedman, thank you. While there are a few good comments, most criticize Friedman, since all rich business people are evil and authoritarian.  I’m sure that Friedman is right, and they are wrong. My father was a wall street lawyer, who worked for major multinationals like Mobil Oil, but his passion was to study Abraham Lincoln and the civil war. The Lindsay brothers were committed to the civil rights movement, and a democracy of law as well as order. My father once explained to me that big corporations were not all evil, especially in a democracy, because if the government were to turn bad, and become authoritarian, the only force in the country strong enough to stand up to the government, are the big corporations. They are like a ballast, in my own words, that keep this ship from tilting too far to the left or the right. I hope he was right.

Francis Fukuyama | The Impact of Jan. 6 Is Still Rippling Throughout the World – The New York Times

Mr. Fukuyama is the author of the forthcoming book “Liberalism and Its Discontents.”

“The Jan. 6 attack on Congress by a mob inspired by former President Donald Trump marked an ominous precedent for U.S. politics. Not since the Civil War had the country failed to effect a peaceful transfer of power, and no previous candidate purposefully contested an election’s results in the face of broad evidence that it was free and fair.

The event continues to reverberate in American politics — but its impact is not just domestic. It has also had a large impact internationally and signals a significant decline in American global power and influence.

Jan. 6 needs to be seen against the backdrop of the broader global crisis of liberal democracy. According to Freedom House’s 2021 Freedom in the World report, democracy has been in decline for 15 straight years, with some of the largest setbacks coming in the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India. Since that report was issued, coups took place in Myanmar, Tunisia and Sudan, countries that had previously taken promising steps toward democracy.”

Prosecutors Move Quickly on Jan. 6 Cases, but Big Questions Remain – The New York Times

“By almost any measure, the criminal investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is a prosecutorial effort of unparalleled complexity and scope.

For an entire year, federal agents in almost every state have been poring over mounting stacks of tipster reports, interviews with witnesses, public social media posts and private messages obtained by warrants. They have also collected nearly 14,000 hours of video — from media outlets, surveillance cameras and police-worn body cameras — enough raw footage that it would take a year and a half of around-the-clock viewing to get through it.

While the Justice Department has called the inquiry one of the largest in its history, traditional law enforcement officials have not been acting alone. Working with information from online sleuths who style themselves as “Sedition Hunters,” the authorities have made more than 700 arrests — with little sign of slowing down.

The government estimates that as many as 2,500 people who took part in the events of Jan. 6 could be charged with federal crimes. That includes more than 1,000 incidents that prosecutors believe could be assaults.”

David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you. I found one of many good comments, which informed on subject I am deeply curious about. If this is true, wonderful.

Aurora
Vermont5h ago

Merrick Garland knows that if he is ever to indict former president Donald Trump he can never give the slightest indication that such an investigation is on. Donald Trump would label it a witch hunt and make sure the whole world knows it. Avoiding a circus atmosphere is critical to prosecuting such a case, if ever prosecuted. If a criminal trial were to occur Trump’s defense team would use the same tried-and-true strategy that has served Trump so well these past 6 years: people are attacking Donald Trump for political reasons; it’s Democrats against Republicans. Garland has one other bullet to dodge in his investigation: at trial he’ll need 12 guilty votes in a country where 40% of Americans fully support the former president. For this reason Garland must have an ironclad, squeaky clean case. The good news, for those of us who put reality above crazy conspiracy theories and political histrionics, Merrick Garland is the perfect choice to build an ironclad, squeaky clean case. But it will probably take another year.

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Jedediah Britton-Purdy | The Republican Party Is Succeeding Because We Are Not a True Democracy – The New York Times

Mr. Britton-Purdy, a professor of constitutional law at Columbia, is writing a book about American democracy — and how to save it.

“The Jan. 6 attack would not have happened in a genuine democracy.

The attack was the most acute symptom — so far — of the political crisis that Donald Trump incited by refusing to admit defeat in the 2020 election. But the roots of the crisis run deep into the undemocratic features of our constitutional system.

The arcane scheme that Mr. Trump’s lawyers hatched to disrupt congressional certification of the vote and perhaps persuade Republican state legislatures to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in states like Pennsylvania was conceivable only because the Electoral College splinters presidential elections into separate contests in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and skews the totals toward small states. In a simple system of majority rule, Mr. Biden’s thumping margin of more than seven million votes would have been the last word. For that matter, so would Hillary Clinton’s national margin of nearly three million votes in 2016: Mr. Trump would not have had a 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address in which to barricade himself in 2020.”