‘Punching down,’ the political weapon of so-called tough guys

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay’s right to say whatever, said, “His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power.” Clay’s core audience, Carlin said, were “young white males” threatened by Clay’s targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …” — well, you get the idea.

In today’s cruel world, it’s not just comedians punching down, reaching for the “easy” joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don’t feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the “punching” is the point, and it’s always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country’s history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

For GOP, ‘back the blue’ doesn’t matter when there’s an election to be won

It was both politically smart, and the right thing to do.

By opening the hearing of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol with the testimony of police officers on the front line, still suffering from the effects of the violence of that day, the world got to hear what really happened and to see the human cost.

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell compared it with his Army service, “different” because the Jan. 6 attackers were “our own citizens.” He described warning his worried wife away when she tried to hug him on his return home because his uniform was drenched with chemical spray. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges said white rioters tried to recruit him as one of their own: “Are you my brother?” one asked. Another told Hodges he would “die on your knees.” MPD Officer Michael Fanone thought he would be killed and almost was, before his plea that he had kids moved a few.

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who is African American, is still in therapy after being booed and showered with obscenities and racial slurs. “Frankly, I guess it is America,” he said.

A Jan. 6 report should be just the beginning. Just like the riot was

The details are scary, but not surprising to some of us.

Capitol Police intelligence officers had warnings as early as Dec. 21 of what was going to happen on Jan. 6 at the Capitol: Pro-Trump protesters were planning to “bring guns” and other weapons to confront the police — the “blue” that conservatives swear they “back.” Lawmakers were in danger of being trapped and harmed while doing the job they were elected to do, certifying the election of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. (though quite a few Republicans shamefully failed even that routine task post-insurrection). Conspirators giddily shared maps and discussed entry points.

And nothing.

A few Capitol Police command officers did get some information, which they failed to share widely. According to the department’s statement: “Neither the USCP, nor the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Metropolitan Police or our other law enforcement partners knew thousands of rioters were planning to attack the U.S. Capitol. The known intelligence simply didn’t support that conclusion.”

Known intelligence? Anyone paying attention to the social media bragging of self-styled “militia” members, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, red-state secession groupies, white supremacists and their ilk could have figured it out. Those swept up in QAnon delusions and Donald Trump’s “big lie” of a stolen election excitedly posted travel plans and loving photos of weaponry, all shiny and ready for action. The dry run of a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a woman was killed, happened in 2017 — and that was over a statue. And just last year, armed Michigan militia members swarmed a state capital and plotted to kidnap a governor.

In preparation for the insurrection, Trump himself issued a pretty vivid invitation, one of several: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he tweeted on Dec. 19. “Be there, will be wild!”

Was the Capitol Insurrection just another day in America?

Roll Call Columnist Mary C. Curtis joins John Howell to revisit the January 6th #insurrection and discuss America’s response and why it is being downplayed and forgotten by republican constituents

When an insurrection is seen as just another day in America

Is America getting a thirst for blood?

It’s a question I ask after hearing too many Republicans dismiss the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob trying to halt the counting of American citizens’ votes as a “normal tourist visit,” in the words of Georgia Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, the same Clyde seen — mouth open and terrified — helping to barricade the besieged doors that day.

When I was a Baltimore schoolgirl, we often visited Washington, D.C., to tour the monuments. It was an easy and informative field trip, barely an hour away by bus. Now kids can occasionally be unruly, and the nuns had to raise their voices once or twice. But I don’t recall ever erecting gallows on the Capitol lawn, breaking windows or pummeling police officers with batons and their own shields. In fact, I’m sure it would have made the front pages if a bunch of Black grade schoolers from St. Pius V Elementary ventured a foot beyond the velvet ropes, let alone desecrated the beautiful marble floors of a government building by using them as a toilet.

Have things changed that much for Clyde and all the others asking Americans and the world not to believe their lying eyes?

POLITICAL WRAP: Senate Unlikely to Support Commission on Capitol Attack

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Legislation to establish an independent commission investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th will likely die in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sending strong signals that House Democrats will go it alone if the commission vote fails in the Senate.

Local News Roundup: Vaccine Eligibility Increases But Finding Appointments A Challenge; Atlanta Killings Reaction; Arrests In Capitol Riot

This week, more people are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and more appointments are being made available throughout the county to help people get their first dose of the vaccine. We’ll talk about who is eligible.

Once you’re eligible for the vaccine, some finesse and persistence may still be required to find a place to get vaccinated. We’ll talk about some mass vaccination events and where to look for appointments.

This week’s killing of six Asian American women in Atlanta brings the rise in violence against Asian Americans to the forefront in the Southeast. We’ll hear local reaction.

GOP lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly are working to put a limit on the governor’s emergency power during long-term emergency events. We’ll talk about what they’re trying to do and how that will affect Gov. Roy Cooper’s ability to manage the pandemic in the state.

And two York County, South Carolina, men are arrested for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. We discuss how they were identified and their role in the violence.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

GUESTS:

Nick OchsnerWBTV’s Executive Producer for Investigations & Chief Investigative Reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time” and contributor at WCCB-TV

Katie Peralta Soloff, reporter for Axios Charlotte

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE

Reporters’ Roundtable

Another very busy week in the news with some big stories still developing. New threats against Capitol Hill and a hearing that raised a lot questions about the January 6th insurection.  The covid relief bill and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act are making their way through Capitol Hill.  And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces sexual harassment allegations.

The GOP talks a good game, but let’s review those conservative principles

What is the Republican Party in 2021? It’s easier to say what it’s not.

With a majority of the party’s House members voting to invalidate the results of a free and fair election, and a good chunk of its voters going along with the fantasy that Donald Trump was robbed, it’s clear the GOP is not a stickler for democracy or the Constitution. And with most Republican senators not interested in holding an impeachment trial for a former president accused of “inciting an insurrection,” Americans can be pretty sure the party is not too keen on accountability.

It’s not a new contradiction. But while it’s true that the GOP has long instructed voters not to “look behind the curtain,” the mess that is spilling out has become impossible to ignore. The sight of thousands of violent rioters storming the center of legislative government will do that.

So what are just a few of the slogans that have crumbled?