We have been through this drill before — as with Charlottesville and as when President Trump held a press conference alongside Vladimir Putin overseas and stated that he believed Putin’s questionable asseveration that Russia had not messed with the 2016 American elections. Everyone is smart except Trump.
I view the video, and more than 95 percent of the people who made their ways inside clearly were just drifting and roaming around, walking mostly in single or double file, as in a tour of the Capitol.
In each case, the Mainstream Media whipped up a froth and frenzy. In all of human history, we essentially were told, there never had been such perfidy. We kept hearing, night after day after night after day, the carefully selected clip: “There were fine people on both sides.” So that meant, we were told, that President Trump, grandfather of Orthodox Jewish children, benefactor of Jared Kushner, doting father of Orthodox Jewish Ivanka, a man who commuted the unfair sentence of Shlomo Rubashkin, endorses Nazis. As recently as this very week, the Mainstream Media still are at it, still lying shamelessly that he endorsed Nazis at Charlottesville. While I was watching the nightly Hebrew news out of Israel on Israel’s equivalent of PBS, the Left-oriented public broadcasting station that the Government funds and that the taxpayers hate because all their Mainstream Media likewise are Left-oriented, their Thursday news report included that same precisely edited clip: “There were fine people on both sides.” Not a word about how the President in truth had condemned Nazism and White Nationalists two separate times in the same four-minute conference. That is why the general Israeli population hate their Mainstream Media and love Trump.
There was a similar froth and frenzy during and after that overseas press conference with Putin: James Clapper and John Brennan were all over CNN asserting that the President had perpetrated treason and such. It was worse than Benedict Arnold giving secrets to the British in the days when the Brits were our mortal enemies. (Interesting how time changes realities.) How could the President publicly say, alongside Putin, that he believes Vladimir Putin and not his own director of intelligence? Why didn’t Trump look Putin in the face, in front of world news media, and call him a liar and a crook and a tyrant — and then privately try to negotiate other issues that were on the table? As if any world leader ever would stare another in the face, in front of the world media, and would speak that way, that directly, rather than scold behind closed doors.
And now the current nonsense.
I have watched video of the Wednesday, January 6, incident over and over and over again. Insurrection? Coup? Yes, the Mainstream Media kept calling them “rioters.” But if you watch again carefully, muting the sound and believing only your own eyes, more than 95 percent of the people inside the Capitol just were milling around. It simply was not anything even remotely approaching what the frenzied Mainstream Media are trying to whip up. They make it sound like an insurrection, a coup. This was not the Bolshevik Revolution. Most trespassers inside had no intention of ending up there. They were rallying outside, and an incredibly deficient police and security detail found itself predictably unable to prevent a comparatively small number of people from knocking over pathetically inadequate barricades. The barricades then were down and the crowd just went forward. They were not armed for insurrection. They were not searching for blood. They were angry but — equally or more — just plain curious: “Let’s see where this goes.”
They meandered inside. I view the video, and more than 95 percent of the people who made their ways inside clearly were just drifting and roaming around, walking mostly in single or double file, as in a tour of the Capitol. The guy in Nancy Pelosi’s chair? OK, he should not have been there. It was not his office, not his chair. My mother taught me that: you don’t sit in someone else’s office chair without permission. But the guy obviously was just playing around, putting his legs on her desk, reading or taking an envelope from her desk. That was not an insurrection; it was a grown-up misbehaving — and, by the way, quite peacefully and jovially. It was not Black Lives Matter breaking a street of windows, ransacking stores, and burning down buildings. It was not Antifa shooting rockets into federal buildings including court houses. Rather, it was a bunch of people who played “Follow the Leader” and, out of curiosity as much as anything else, meandered into and out of the Capitol. It was January D.C. winter, and it was warmer inside.
For the Mainstream Media the incident offered a perfect bookend to their four years of dishonest coverage of a president they hated vitriolically from Day One and from before. They found a nut with a T-Shirt that said “Camp Auschwitz” and did their best to make him a symbol of the day. I am a Jew, an Orthodox rabbi, and I have devoted a good chunk of my life to the causes of American Jewry and Soviet Jewish freedom from Communist tyranny, and I have disseminated the words “Never Again” more than most. Yet I am sophisticated enough to discern that a jerk with a “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirt was but one of countless others having a field day in the Capitol. For comparison: a wonderful middle-aged married couple in Brooklyn, Orthodox Jews and former members of the shul where I am congregational rabbi — and still active financial supporters of my rabbinic work and secular writings from their new home in Flatbush — sent me a photo of the two of them, both very pro-Trump activists who campaigned for him across state lines in Philadelphia because New York electoral votes were not in play but Pennsylvania was an electoral battleground, just having fun and smiling outside the Capitol. Another very close friend, the son of an equally very close friend — both actively devoted for decades to the National Council of Young Israel, an organization of more than 130 Orthodox synagogues (including mine) across America and in Israel — was there. If one guy was wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirt, there were many times more Orthodox Jews than he, thrilled to be there — and so many scores more mainstream, easy-going, perfectly normal pro-Trump activists who just meandered into the Capitol because the House and Senate Sergeants-of-Arms and the Capitol Police defaulted and practically left the doors open. It was like Motel Six: just come on over, and we’ll leave the lights on for you.
This was no insurrection. It just wasn’t. Any objective look at the pictures sees that, yes, a few did break in, did shatter glass. That is inexcusable and must be prosecuted and punished. But, by and large, this simply was a weird day, when the Capitol found itself pathetically unguarded, and masses poured into the building because, well, hey, everyone else is doing it, so why not, and this is so cool, and can I take a selfie? What kind of insurrection and coup is dominated by people taking selfies and snapping photos on their smart phones? Really, c’mon.
OK, it makes total sense that many Congressional representatives and Senators were in a panic because they heard the worst, and you cannot take chances when something crazy like that happens. You have to be cautious, prudent, and secure when throngs throng into your place uninvited. Fair. And yet there is something rich in hearing all those Democrats who have been demanding “Defund the Police!” now screaming about how they have to fire the Sergeant-at-Arms, presumably the Lieutenant-at-Legs, the head of the Capitol Police, all while demanding angrily: Where were the police?
Meanwhile, Trump made a speech. He urged people to march to the Capitol and peacefully protest. That is what he said: “peacefully.” He simply asked his followers to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. Since this is the Charlottesville Big Lie all over again, you have to listen for yourself to the actual speech. Where is the call for insurrection, for a coup? Where is the incitement? He simply called on them to act peacefully and to make their voices heard. When Obama and Holder and that crew did that, Ferguson burned, Baltimore burned. Obama fanned flames for eight years: If he had had a son, the boy would have looked like Trayvon Martin. Right.
The whole thing, the whole Media froth and frenzy, comprises a shameful denouement of its four-year effort to destroy President Trump. In its context, of course the likes of Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos are jumping ship. It is January, the start of a new year. Their jobs expire in fewer than fourteen days. So they give two weeks’ notice. It gives them a résumé boost, conveying they “left the Trump Administration in protest.” In protest of what – that your job ends in ten days anyway? So they get to do a bit of virtue signaling, and OK. If that is what they feel they need to do to advance their careers, well — since when did Americans never hear of “taking care of Number One”? So be it. Mick Mulvaney leaving his post as a quasi-ambassador to Northern Ireland. Of course he is doing that. He previously served as the acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from November 2017 to December 2018. He also had served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from February 2017 until March 2020, then as acting White House Chief of Staff from January 2019 until March 2020. When the president made Mark Meadows the full-time Chief of Staff, sending Mulvaney for a tour of Northern Ireland and the Old Sod, it was a clear demotion. And Trump once embarrassed Mulvaney unfairly, ordering his Chief of Staff to leave the room while Trump was giving an interview, merely because Mulvaney had coughed. So this was payback time, and Mick got his chance to “Watch Out for Number One” by announcing, just two weeks before he is out of a job anyway, that he is coming back to America. Good for him. Welcome back. Set a spell.
As for impeaching Trump with ten days left to his first term in office, that also is rich. In a quirky way, imagine Mike Pence suited up as 46th President for, like, a day — and then watching Pence, as his one act in office, doing as Gerald Ford did and issuing a full anticipatory pardon to his predecessor. But that quirky moment will have to wait. The House would impeach Trump seven days a week if it could. And if the Senate went berserk, down to Joe Manchin, and voted for conviction — well, at least the Mormons of Utah would wake up to the shame they have brought on their state by replacing a statesman like Orrin Hatch with a sore loser like Mitt Romney who, like Hillary, never came to terms with how a sometime-bullvahn like Donald John Trump, often seeming to be a bull in search of a china shop, proved to be so much more popular than did either of those two.
In the 24-7 news cycle in which we live, politicians vie frantically for coverage by out-extreming each other, and media do the same. They exaggerate everything shamelessly. And then a few weeks pass, new “breaking news” captures center stage, and sensible people look back and recognize the hyperbole with accurate hindsight. Let the job seekers give their two-weeks’ notice. Play the full actual speech. Listen especially to the embedded link for one minute between 18:00 and 19:00 — and particularly to the words at 18:47-18:56. Read the transcript. And remember the more sensible, calm, and courageous who weathered the passing storm of Mainstream Media Big Lie Number Infinity with President Trump.
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