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Hometown: America's Finest City
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Member since: 2001
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Lindsey Graham's toadyism on Fox News shows where the GOP is heading

Opinion by Greg Sargent

News accounts keep telling us that the Democratic impeachment managers are struggling to persuade Republicans to turn on former president Donald Trump. But there’s zero reason to assume the vast majority of GOP senators are open to persuasion at all — and this formulation risks badly misleading people about the true nature of this political moment and where it is heading next.

In one such construction, the Associated Press reports that Democrats are struggling to “convince skeptical Republicans” that the former president incited the assault on the Capitol. In another, a New York Times reporter claims Democrats “face an uphill climb in persuading” Republicans to convict.

This implies that Republican senators are weighing the evidence against Trump on its substantive merits and are moving toward rejecting it on grounds of principled disagreement. But is there any serious reason to believe this applies to the vast majority of GOP senators?

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) latest exercise in toadying on Fox News should lay this idea to rest. It’s worth watching because it previews where most elected Republicans will end up coming down on this whole affair.

Mark it now: The vast majority of them will agree that the storming of the Capitol was an abomination and that the perpetrators must be held to account. But little by little, many will migrate to a place where Trump himself is absolutely and comprehensively exonerated from any culpability for inciting it in any way.


The images of Trump's mob are unforgettable

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

I felt sick to my stomach watching the House managers’ minute-by-minute presentation Wednesday of insurrectionists entering the Capitol, assaulting police officers, terrorizing lawmakers and staff. The near-miss incidents in which lawmakers and staff came within seconds of confrontation with the mob provided riveting viewing. Only the most heartless senators could fail to appreciate that “but for the grace of God,” they would have been beaten or killed. The visuals were all the more powerful because the people in peril were sitting as jurors in the trial of the disgraced former president who incited the mob.

Further depressing and incensing was the knowledge that most Republican senators, including those whose lives were saved during the evacuation of the Senate chamber (impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell of California said they came within just 58 steps of the mob), have been telling us — and more importantly, the mob’s victims — to “move on.” It defies belief that they are alive because of the courage of police, but haven’t the courage themselves to convict the person who put a target on their backs.

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) also took us through the former president’s actions during the siege, including the unanswered pleas to demand that his supporters evacuate and his refusal to condemn the terrorists. Republicans trying to acquit on the grounds that members of the mob went to the Capitol on their own (patently false as that may be) have no explanation for the commander in chief’s abdication of his responsibility to defend the government, including his own vice president.

First, one could viscerally sense the barbarity of the mob. The hellish violence, the taunts and the determination to find and kill both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Mike Pence should appall any decent human. But not the former president. In a video to the mob, he told them, “We love you.” There is no more vivid example of the pathology of the ex-president who embraces anyone who will “fight” for him. By placing Pence center stage in the trial, House managers made clear just how dangerous it was for the ex-president to incite a mob willing to kill Pence.


None of these Republican excuses work

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

After a day of horrifying, searing evidence from the House managers, Republican senators are increasingly desperate to figure out how to avoid rubber-stamping the ex-president’s incitement to riot, which injured scores, resulted in five deaths, defiled the Capitol and traumatized staff and lawmakers. (Hint: Vote guilty.) Their excuses are flimsy, even laughable.

“Not constitutional.” Sorry, the Senate voted otherwise on Tuesday after a devastating presentation of law, precedent and common sense showed that they most certainly can impeach an official while in office and convict afterward. Reportedly even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) admits the Senate could exercise jurisdiction. (He’d rather not, however.) It would be absurd for the Senate to run home in the final weeks of a president’s time in office so he can escape his impeachment trial. (Well, that is essentially what they did, right?)

“First Amendment.” Nope. A president has every right to, say, march in a neo-Nazi parade and invite a foreign country to invade. But such conduct is still impeachable. It is not a question of his right to say what he wants, but whether he committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” (in this case, incitement to sedition). Moreover, as dozens of constitutional scholars have explained, incitement to riot is not protected speech.

“No evidence he incited the mob.” That one went out the window on Wednesday, when House managers masterfully took the Senate through weeks of the ex-president’s Big Lie, his “stop the steal” campaign and his call to “fight.” He sent supporters a “save the date” for protests in the capital, whipped them into a frenzy for weeks and timed his harangue just as the Congress was beginning to count the electoral college votes. They even played a video of a rioter reading aloud the disgraced president’s tweet vilifying Vice President Mike Pence as the crowd amassed outside the Capitol. The managers presented a mound of evidence showing the insurrectionists believed they were following the then-president’s orders.


Once again, Republicans put tribalism over patriotism

Opinion by Max Boot

“What we already know does constitute the greatest violation of his oath of office by any president in the history of the country.” So said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, two days before the start of former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

The devastating presentation by the House impeachment managers has only strengthened an already strong case. No impartial observer could possibly doubt that Trump, with his lies about election fraud, incited the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. No Trump, no attack. It’s that simple.

Trump’s complicity did not end when the first rioters stormed the citadel of democracy. House impeachment manager Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) asked senators to imagine how much damage could have been averted if Trump had immediately told the rioters to “stop the attack” with “even half as much force as he said ‘Stop the Steal.’”

Yet Trump did not tell the mob to disperse for hours, and when he finally did, he also told them: “We love you. You’re very special.” Those words of tribute are especially jarring when juxtaposed with the harrowing videos played by the House impeachment managers. I am haunted by the insurrectionist screaming like a character from a horror film, “Nancy, we’re looking for you. Oh Naaaancy! Where are you Nancy?” while searching for the House speaker. We now know that senators such as Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) had narrow escapes from the violent mob. How can any senator possibly acquit a president who thinks the very people who were hunting them are “very special”?


Republicans have always condoned Trump's violence

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

House impeachment managers continue to stitch together an unbreakable chain of events linking former president Donald Trump to the violent insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) on Thursday meticulously matched the disgraced ex-president’s language to the language of the rioters. This was a call-and-response symphony: Trump directed the mob (and belatedly sent them home — with “love”), and they repeated his rhetoric and followed his direction.

From the mouths of the rioters themselves, we heard them explain that their commander in chief had sent them to the Capitol. We heard audio of them telling the police they had been invited there. And after they were arrested, they explained that they had followed his direction.

The presentation shifted to Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House manager, who took senators through Trump’s history of invoking violence. “These tactics were road-tested. Jan. 6 was a culmination of the president’s actions, not an aberration from them,” Raskin said. “The insurrection was the most violent and dangerous episode so far in Donald Trump’s continuing pattern and practice of inciting violence.” He emphasized “so far.” From his exhortation of crowds during his 2016 campaign, to his praise of then-Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte for body-slamming a reporter, to his incitement of Michigan extremists (Liberate Michigan!), the former president repeatedly bonded with his MAGA crowd through violent rhetoric and refused to condemn white supremacists.

In a haunting closing, Raskin said, “President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, if he gets back into office and it happens again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.” He asked, “Would you bet the lives of more police officers on it? Would you bet the safety of your family on it? Would you bet your democracy on it?” It was horrifying, because the honest answer for most Republicans is almost certainly “yes.”


I was skeptical of Democrats pursuing a second impeachment. I was wrong.

Opinion by Karen Tumulty

I am not generally a fan of futility, which is why I was skeptical about the wisdom of congressional Democrats pursuing a second impeachment and post-presidential conviction of Donald Trump.

The ending of this unprecedented exercise was written before it even began: Once again, Trump would be acquitted by the Senate, where fewer than the requisite 67 would vote to convict him. And once again, it would be safe to predict that the 45th president will claim this is some sort of exoneration.

It seemed smarter, and politically safer, to punish Trump some other way — perhaps with a censure, which would require only a majority.

But having watched what has unfolded this week in the Senate chamber — a scene of the crime — I now realize I was wrong.

The House managers have laid out a devastating case, for the American public and for history. They are making clear not only Trump’s culpability but the complicity of the Republican hierarchy that enabled him and the murderous, self-styled “patriots” who took up his call for insurrection.


Christian Prophets Are on the Rise. What Happens When They're Wrong?

They are stars within one of the fastest-growing corners of American Christianity. Now, their movement is in crisis.

Jeremiah Johnson, a 33-year-old self-described prophet, was one of the few evangelical Christians who took Donald J. Trump’s political future seriously back in 2015.

This track record created a loyal audience of hundreds of thousands of people who follow him on social media and hang on his predictions about such topics as the coronavirus pandemic, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and the possibility of spiritual revival in America. And they took comfort ahead of the presidential election last fall when Mr. Johnson shared a prophetic dream of Mr. Trump stumbling while running the Boston Marathon, until two frail older women emerged from the crowd to help him over the finish line.

So when Joseph R. Biden Jr. was certified as the winner of the election, Mr. Johnson had to admit he had let his followers down.

“I was wrong, I am deeply sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness,” he wrote in a detailed letter he posted online. “I would like to repent for inaccurately prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second term as the President of the United States.”

The desire to divine the future is a venerable one, fueling faith in figures from ancient Greek oracles to modern astrologists. Christianity in particular is a religion whose foundational text is filled with prophecies proven true by the end of the book. Whether the gift of prophecy continues into the present day has long been the subject of intense theological debate. But in recent years, self-described prophets have proliferated across the country, accelerating in stature over the course of the Trump era. They are stars within what is now one of the fastest-growing corners of Christianity: a loose but fervent movement led by hundreds of people who believe they can channel supernatural powers — and have special spiritual insights into world events.


Beware of false prophets. And false profits.

Ravi Zacharias, Influential Evangelist, Is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report

An investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years. Several massage therapists made accusations against Mr. Zacharias, who died last spring.

The influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who died last spring, engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape,” according to a report released on Thursday by the global evangelical organization he founded.

After initially denying accounts of his misconduct, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that an investigation had found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years and multiple continents.

The announcement was the result of an investigation by a Southeastern law firm, Miller & Martin, which RZIM hired in October to investigate accounts of sexual misconduct by Mr. Zacharias.

“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation,” the ministry’s board of directors said in a statement accompanying the report. “We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.”

When Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him “a man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our time” and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.


SK Innovation loses U.S. battery trade case but gets temporary OK to sell to Ford, VW

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday sided with South Korea’s chemicals and electric vehicle (EV) battery maker LG Chem Ltd, which accused its cross-town rival SK Innovation Co Ltd of misappropriating trade secrets related to EV battery technology.

The ITC said it was issuing a limited 10-year exclusion order prohibiting imports into the United States of some lithium-ion batteries by SK Innovation, but would permit SK to import components for domestic production of lithium ion batteries and other parts for Ford Motor Co’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s MEB electric vehicle line for the North America region for two years.

The ITC added that SK Innovation can replace or repair its batteries in Kia vehicles sold to U.S. consumers. The move could effectively ban the company from supplying EV batteries in the United States unless the company can source all the needed materials there - a step analysts say is not feasible.

The ITC said the decision would allow the automakers to transition to new suppliers for these programs.


It will be interesting to see what will happen to SK Innovation's huge battery production plant now under construction in Georgia.

Some good news

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