"What the Hell is Wrong With These People?"
Mona Charen asks the right question
“DEPAPE explained that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender.”— Department of Justice Criminal Complaint, October 31, 2022
Both state prosecutors and the feds have now filed criminal charges against the man who wanted to kidnap and knee-cap of the Speaker of the House. The DOJ charged David DePape with attempting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and assaulting a relative of a federal official, her 82-year-old husband, who remains in the hospital. San Francisco’s prosecutor filed an additional six charges, including attempted murder. Via the NYT:
The attack on the morning of Oct. 28 came amid an increase in politically motivated violence just ahead of next week’s midterm elections. And the Justice Department’s swift action in bringing criminal charges on Monday against the suspect reflected the sense of urgency at the highest levels of the American government to confront an issue that officials view as a stark threat to the nation. There has been a surge in threats and attacks against figures of both political parties in recent years, and Ms. Pelosi, in particular, has long been the subject of vilification and threats.
The criminal complaints — including DePape’s own confession — debunk every conspiracy theory pushed on right-wing media, so they are very much worth your time this morning. The DOJ charging document includes the Mirandized recorded interview of DePape by San Francisco police officers.
DEPAPE provided the following information:
a. DEPAPE stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DEPAPE the “truth,” he would let her go, and if she “lied,” he was going to break “her kneecaps.” DEPAPE was certain that Nancy would not have told the “truth.” In the course of the interview, DEPAPE articulated he viewed Nancy as the “leader of the pack” of lies told by the Democratic Party.
DEPAPE also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions. DEPAPE also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DEPAPE.
b. DEPAPE stated that he broke into the house through a glass door, which was a difficult task that required the use of a hammer. DEPAPE stated that Pelosi was in bed and appeared surprised by DEPAPE.
DEPAPE told Pelosi to wake up.
DEPAPE told Pelosi that he was looking for Nancy. Pelosi responded that she was not present. Pelosi asked how they could resolve the situation, and what DEPAPE wanted to do. DEPAPE stated he wanted to tie Pelosi up so that DEPAPE could go to sleep as he was tired from having had to carry a backpack to the Pelosi residence. Around this time, according to DEPAPE, DEPAPE started taking out twist ties from his pocket so that he could restrain Pelosi. Pelosi moved towards another part of the house, but DEPAPE stopped him and together they went back into the bedroom.
c. While talking with each other, Pelosi went into a bathroom, where Pelosi grabbed a phone to call 9-1-1. DEPAPE stated he felt like Pelosi’s actions compelled him to respond.
d. DEPAPE remembered thinking that there was no way the police were going to forget about the phone call. DEPAPE explained that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender. DEPAPE reiterated this sentiment elsewhere in the interview.
e. DEPAPE stated that they went downstairs to the front door. The police arrived and knocked on the door, and Pelosi ran over and opened it. Pelosi grabbed onto DEPAPE’s hammer, which was in DEPAPE’s hand. At this point in the interview, DEPAPE repeated that DEPAPE did not plan to surrender and that he would go “through” Pelosi.
f. DEPAPE stated that he pulled the hammer away from Pelosi and swung the hammer towards Pelosi. DEPAPE explained that Pelosi’s actions resulted in Pelosi “taking the punishment instead.”
Unfortunately, it would be naïve to imagine that the facts will catch up to the swarm of lies anytime soon. Here is MAGA star Charlie Kirk yesterday afternoon:
Here is the former president’s oldest son:
On Monday morning, Trump Jr. doubled down, posting a South Park-inspired meme that regurgitated the same fact-free conspiracy theory that Elon Musk tweeted then deleted. “Dear fact-checkers, this has nothing at all to do with anything going on in the news and simply posting a cartoon of what appears to be an altered South Park scene,” he wrote.
And this will not come as a surprise to you: Tucker Carlson is continuing to just ask questions.
Tucker Carlson used his monologue on Monday night to cast doubt on authorities’ version of events surrounding the attack on the husband of the speaker of the House.
However, while reading the charging documents against the suspect, the Fox News host omitted key details that contradicted his own monologue.
So, despite the horrific nature of the attack, it feels like a turning point of sorts — not merely the culmination of a rising tide of threats, but a new sort of normalization of political violence.
I had some thoughts on this as well:
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Have you no sense of decency left (a rhetorical question)?
In today’s Bulwark, my colleague Mona Charen writes about the reflexive whataboutism of the GOP, and its failure to show even common decency in the wake of the brutal assault.
What the hell is wrong with these people? Where has their sense of ordinary decency gone?
All of this is a garden party compared with the bilge (thank you Charlie Sykes) released into the atmosphere by Donald Trump Jr. Repeating a rumor from the fever swamps (which rumor was later retweeted by the new chief Twit), he displayed a picture of men’s underwear and a hammer, saying “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.”
The vile, baseless claim that Pelosi was in the midst of a homosexual tryst with his attacker thus became the official conservative response to a horrifying attack on an 82 year-old man and attempted attack on the speaker of the House. Doubtless it will be but a few weeks or months before the Pew Research Center releases a survey showing that 70 percent of Republicans believe that the attack on Paul Pelosi was fake or a false flag. Was Antifa responsible? Just asking questions.
It’s beginning to look like Republicans go along with Trumpism not because they feel they must, but because they’ve really come to embody it.
I also had more to say about Elon Musk’s role in all of this in a column published over at MSNBC Daily:
But the real test of the new Musk regime came with the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband, Paul.
Filmmaker and former felon Dinesh D’Souza gushed that “Twitter has become fun again,” and (like other right-wing figures) spread a false homophobic smear about the hammer attack on the speaker’s husband. D’Souza baselessly claimed that the attack was the result of a gay lovers’ quarrel.
Police have since debunked these theories — the attacker was not in his underwear, for example, and the suspect was completely unknown to Paul Pelosi. And yet, D’Souza’s lies quickly rocketed around Musk’s newly liberated social media site.
For a brief moment, it was unclear how Musk would react to this cataract of falsehood.
Then he joined in himself.
As NBC News reported, Musk “tweeted and deleted an unfounded anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory Sunday morning about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband from a website that has a history of publishing false information.”
In response to a tweet by Hillary Clinton calling out the GOP and its “mouthpieces” who “regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories,” the new owner of Twitter linked to an article espousing a thoroughly debunked conspiracy about Paul Pelosi bringing home a male prostitute. “There is a tiny possibility,” Musk wrote, “there might be more to this story than meets the eye.”
This is sick stuff on multiple levels. The website that Musk highlighted is a notorious swamp of disinformation. (In 2016, the site reported that Clinton had actually died on 9/11 and that the former secretary of state was actually a body double, or maybe a robot.) But with a single tweet, Musk had emerged as the Pelosi attack truther-in-chief. Before it was deleted, Musk’s reckless speculation had been retweeted more than 24,000 times and got more than 86,000 likes.
And all of this took place within the first 72 hours of Musk’s tenure. It may be about to get even worse.
1. If Walker, Then Fetterman
As always, Republicans want to have it both ways. They want to say that Herschel Walker should be seen as nothing more than a reliable Republican vote, but that John Fetterman isn’t cognitively fit for the Senate.
But if we’re choosing bots whose fingers just have to press the right button when voting on the Senate floor, then, but by the Republican party’s own standards, John Fetterman is a fine candidate.
Republicans aren’t asking too much of Walker should he win, and his efforts to kill off all those babies he said he wants to protect is fine with them. In Trump’s GOP, lying, hypocrisy, immorality and ignorance are not only tolerated, but celebrated.
But a lieutenant governor with aphasia, which is temporary? Republicans are certain Fetterman cannot serve his constituents.
It’s the GOP’s latest triumph of power of principle.
2. Even the Sane Republicans Are Embracing Election Deniers
Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, is one of the saner people in today’s Republican party. He concedes that the 2020 election was free and fair. He acknowledges climate change. He has criticized Republican leaders for ostracizing Rep. Liz Cheney and other principled dissidents while protecting the party’s worst extremists.
That’s why Sununu’s decision in the final weeks of the 2022 campaign to embrace election deniers is a particularly bad sign. Like other Republican officials, he has decided that sabotage of public faith in democracy doesn’t matter, as long as the saboteurs are Republicans. And he’s defending their reckless behavior with pernicious excuses.
3. Education Protests in Hungary Rock the Orbán Government
[The] greatest political challenge Orbán faces at the moment arises not from the economic fallout of the real war in Ukraine and his fake war with Brussels, but from a domestic crisis purely of his own making. Viktor Orbán, the broad-minded, insatiably curious leader who allegedly devotes his Thursdays to reading and study, has driven Hungary’s educational system into the ground with twelve years of ideologically motivated autocratic mismanagement. Having ignored signs of trouble for years, Orbán must now contend with a growing wave of nationwide teachers’ strikes. His efforts to suppress them have provoked demonstrations across the country on a scale not seen since he drove Central European University out of Hungary in 2018.