Don’t claim to support law enforcement if you demonize the FBI and IRS

A woman makes a peace sign before a line of police preparing to advance upon demonstrators after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo by David McNew/ Getty Images)

This may come as news to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and many of his fellow Republicans:  The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law enforcement agency. So is the Internal Revenue Service.

Most people already think of the FBI as an elite policing agency. But the IRS also investigates crime beyond tax evasion and fraud. Organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal gaming, money laundering and public corruption are just a few examples.

Republicans, including Grassley, claim to be champions of law enforcement and horrified by violence in America.

In fact, at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, most Republican senators entirely ignored or barely mentioned the actual focus of the hearing. Instead, they put on a show of how worried they are about violence and threats against police, judges, anti-abortion institutions and residents of certain cities that happen to be run by Democrats.

“The baseline is rising — higher rates of violent crime are becoming the new norm,” Grassley said. “Some of the main causes of this rise in violent crime are anti-police rhetoric, de-policing efforts, progressive prosecution, bail reform, defund the police movements. We talked about the crisis faced by law enforcement officers last week in this very committee in our hearing about attacks on police.”

This isn’t a new phenomenon, by any means. In Congress, it often appears that two or more hearings are happening simultaneously, with each party pursuing entirely separate and almost unrelated agendas. It’s probably fair, for example, to say some Democrats tend to be less concerned about vandalism of anti-abortion family planning centers and protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes than they are about assassinations of doctors and health care workers who provide abortions.

What made this particular display so striking was that the hearing was supposed to be about threats, bullying and intimidation of elections officials and workers. As we heard during the Jan. 6 select committee hearings, some election workers targeted directly by former President Trump had to leave their homes for months because of threats and harassment.

One would think the security of elections and the people who enforce the laws and do the work of democracy would be, if not equally important, then at least of some interest to U.S. senators regardless of party. To make a long story short, it’s not. Read more

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Amazon healthcare — the drone will see you now

“Good morning, Mr. uhhhhh, Broncossuck83! Please sign in with your password and take a seat. The doctor will be right with you.”

“Shouldn’t you use my real name? I mean, I know Amazon bought my doctor’s practice and nearly 200 others in large cities across the country, but I don’t feel right about using my login. Is that even legal?”

“Of course it is. In Bezos we trust. Now please take a seat. Hmmmm. I see you ordered Keurig’s Smoky Mountain Costa Rican blend 36 days ago. Would you like to have a cup of that while you wait?

“Oh! Well, sure. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all!”

“Coming right up. You should probably sit on that nice comfy sofa, though. It says here you have been ordering hemorrhoid crème–oh, my—the 5-tube pack, for the past six months. Is that why you’re here today?”

“What?! That’s none of your business. I was afraid something like this would happen when you people bought One Medical.”

“If you liked the Costa Rican blend, here are some suggestions for other coffees you might like based on your profile…”

“What? No! I’m here for my … uh, something else! I don’t want to talk about my coffee orders. I swear, this is why people hate Amazon. You people are too invasive. I’m frankly terrified you now will have access to personal health information on 767,000 patients, practically overnight and we have zero say in the matter! Ever heard of HIPAA?”

“I’m sorry. I’m unable to respond to that request at this time.”

“Are you ALEXA????”

“I see that you ordered Pet Armor Advanced 2 Flea medicine on January 6, 2022. Would you like to place another order?”

“No! May I remind you I’m here for a medical appointment with my physician?!”

“Of course. While you wait, please enjoy streaming the wildly popular new Amazon series, “The Summer I Turned Pretty.”

“What? No! Do I look like a 17- year-old girl???”

“Well, based on your viewing profile…”

“Stop it! When will the doctor see me?”

“The doctor should arrive by 5 p.m. Thursday. He will meet you on the front doorstep or, if you prefer, another location such as the rear door. You may also meet at a trusted neighbor’s house if you prefer.”

“It’s Tuesday!”

“Hmmm. Yes. There is a delay. Did you join Doctorcrap Prime? It’s only an additional $139 per year.”

“Now this is exactly what I was afraid of. You say things will cost one amount but if you really want any of the advantages you have to pay another yearly cost. It’s just like when I order a book…”

“I’m sorry, what are books?”

“What? It’s what got you started. Selling books.”

“Oh, that’s so quaint!  What a thought. Our 10th generation Kindle Paperwhite reader allows you to…”

“Oh, just forget it!”

“Sir?”

“Yes, Alexa or whoever you are?”

“Could you please turn around and not look at me for a minute?”

“What? Why?”

“I have to use the bathroom and we can’t take breaks. Can you just hand me that large Solo cup? It’s the lone 16-ounce cup sitting inside several very large nesting cardboard boxes for no apparent reason. You can’t miss it.”

“I’ve heard Amazon employees are treated poorly but I didn’t realize how bad it was. I’m sorry I was abrupt with you earlier.”

“It’s OK. I’m used to it. How would you rate this exchange? Please rate using 1 to 5 stars with 5 being the highest level of customer satisfaction.”

“Well…”

“Never mind! Your doctor is coming now.”

“Good. Wait! Is that a drone? Keep that thing away from me!”

“It’s OK. He rarely hits his target. He’s examining a random woman walking her dog right now. Hey! Where are you going?”

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Veteran law enforcement officer: On Jan. 6 I was bewildered. Now, I’m outraged.

Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ahead of the first hearing of the January 6 Select Committee I had the opportunity, due to my more than 40 years in law enforcement, to share my thoughts as part of a panel discussion about what had happened on that terrible day, and what I expected to come from the hearings.

I shared that I felt bewildered that so many citizens who purport to support democracy would attempt to overturn an election. That so many elected officials, including some county sheriffs and others in positions of power, had urged their supporters to do so.

After watching the first eight hearings of the committee these last two months, I am no longer bewildered.

I am outraged. As every American should be.

The January 6 Select Committee has done a remarkable job sharing its findings about the attack on the Capitol itself, and the months-long criminal conspiracy that led up to it. They have exposed the truth for the world to see, former President Donald Trump and his MAGA allies attempted to overturn the results of a free, fair, safe and secure election they knew they had lost through a multi-pronged scheme that included lying to their own supporters while bilking them out of millions of dollars in the process.

Even if the conspiracy had ended there, in cheating hard working Americans out of their hard-earned wages through outright lies about election lawsuits and allegations of fraud, it would have represented an egregious violation of the public trust by all involved.

But it didn’t end there, of course. The plot culminated in a violent attack on the Capitol that left over 100 police officers injured, many beaten and bloodied with career ending injuries.

So far, Mr. Trump and his enablers, both in the White House and Congress, have escaped accountability under the law.

So far.

The news that the FBI seized documents from Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago this week shows that there is a serious case unfolding against the former president.

I served more than 40 years in law enforcement, including 15 as Dane County, Wisconsin Sheriff, and served as president of the National Sheriffs Association, which represents more than 3,000 sheriffs nationwide. I know how investigations work; I’ve seen prosecutors build out cases. And my advice to Mr. Trump and his co-conspirators after watching these hearings is straightforward: Lawyer up. Prepare to accept responsibility. Accountability is coming.

I swore an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, as all law enforcement members do. It’s sometimes hard to put into words what that means, how that sticks with you. But here’s what I know: Former President Trump swore an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, too. That oath makes the unprecedented, egregious and illegal actions he took that had the effect of undermining our democracy unforgivable. He used the office of the presidency to manipulate, pressure and browbeat his subordinates into breaking the law for his own personal gain. He had help from members of Congress and staff in his White House and, as committee vice chair Liz Cheney has shared with us, he’s still trying to cover up his actions through witness intimidation.

Thankfully, the Justice Department has expanded its probe into the events of January 6, issuing subpoenas in multiple states.

Ensuring accountability and that no president ever abuses the office in this manner again is essential. That requires letting the committee finish its work and allowing the Justice Department to complete their own investigation unimpeded.

That is the only way to stop the ongoing efforts by many Trump Republicans, including here in Wisconsin, from sabotaging future elections by changing state laws, threatening state officials and packing election administration offices so that they can have the final say over election results – even when they lose.

Members of law enforcement held the line for all of us on Jan. 6, 2021. May we all honor them, including those we lost as a result, through our commitment to seeing that justice is done and this never happens again.

David Mahoney served as the sheriff of Dane County, Wisconsin for four terms and worked for 41 years in law enforcement before retiring in 2021. This essay was first published by the Wisconsin Examiner.

Historian: Politicians shackle the truth with efforts to control classroom discussions about U.S. slavery

The “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” by Nikole Hannah-Jones is displayed at a New York City bookstore on November 17, 2021 in New York City. First published in The New York Times Magazine, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” was written to center the effects of slavery and the achievements of Black people in the history of the United States. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Of all the subjects taught in the nation’s public schools, few have generated as much controversy of late as the subjects of racism and slavery in the United States.

The attention has come largely through a flood of legislative bills put forth primarily by Republicans over the past year and a half. Commonly referred to as anti-critical race theory legislation, these bills are meant to restrict how teachers discuss race and racism in their classrooms.

One of the more peculiar byproducts of this legislation came out of Texas, where, in June 2022, an advisory panel made up of nine educators recommended that slavery be referred to as “involuntary relocation.”

The measure ultimately failed.

As an educator who trains teachers on how to educate young students about the history of slavery in the United States, I see the Texas proposal as part of a disturbing trend of politicians seeking to hide the horrific and brutal nature of slavery – and to keep it divorced from the nation’s birth and development.

The Texas proposal, for instance, grew out of work done under a Texas law that says slavery and racism can’t be taught as part of the “true founding” of the United States. Rather, the law states, they must be taught as a “failure to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.”

To better understand the nature of slavery and the role it played in America’s development, it helps to have some basic facts about how long slavery lasted in the territory now known as the United States and how many enslaved people it involved. I also believe in using authentic records to show students the reality of slavery.

Before the Mayflower

Slavery in what is now known as the United States is often traced back to the year 1619. That is when – as documented by Colonist John Rolfe – a ship named the White Lion delivered 20 or so enslaved Africans to Virginia.

As for the notion that slavery was not part of the founding of the United States, that is easily refuted by the U.S. Constitution itself. Specifically, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 prevented Congress from prohibiting the “importation” of slaves until 1808 – nearly 20 years after the Constitution was ratified – although it didn’t use the word “slaves.” Instead, the Constitution used the phrase “such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit.” Read more

The FBI went to Trump’s house and Nevada Republicans couldn’t be happier

Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is seen on November 1, 2019 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Just last month Trump was right here in Las Vegas preaching about how much he loves law enforcement.

But then law enforcement came to his house.

The FBI reportedly went to Trump’s compound or lair or whatever it is in Florida to retrieve classified documents and materials that aren’t his to keep. To which the right is saying classified schmassified, this is just a deep state witch hunt, radical leftists, argle bargle etc.

You can see their point. After all, it’s not like Trump committed an outrageous crime against humanity for which someone should obviously be locked up, like sending emails over a private server.

The details on all this are still pretty scant, but Republicans, the vast majority if not all of whom don’t know any more about what the FBI is doing and why than you do, are now pretty pumped.

They’ve seemed on their back feet lately, which is weird given the fundamentals of midterm elections when the party out of power routinely obliterates the party that controls the White House. They see the FBI’s visit to sunny Florida as a welcome development that will take some sting off Trump’s increasingly battered brand – even within much of the far right – and perhaps mitigate the palpable harm Trump brings to Republicans up and down the ballot in a general election.

Republican politicians in Nevada and the nation may be outraged on the outside. But they’re giddy on the inside. Read more