“A coalition of ethnic armed militias in Myanmar have launched what could be the best possible chance to overthrow the military government that has controlled the country since a 2021 coup ousted the democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD).
If successful, this could be the groundwork for a more normalized democracy for a country that has historically been dominated by military juntas and dictators. Engagement from civil society has been high and is a key factor that can turn military victories into long-term successes. Still, nothing is guaranteed, and the fight is likely to be difficult.
On October 27, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, a coalition of three ethnic armed groups, launched a well-coordinated offensive in the eastern Shan state, the largest of Myanmar’s seven states by land area. The surprise attack successfully captured several government military installations by the Chinese border and has also inspired other armed groups to launch their own successful campaigns against the repressive Tatmadaw or State Administration Council, as the junta is called in Myanmar.
Myanmar has been under military rule for much of its history as an independent nation; as in many other Southeast Asian nations, democratic movements have struggled to gain traction against powerful and entrenched military interests. After a decade of democratic reforms driven by a series of popular uprisings against the military government, Myanmar seemed to break from the past; in 2015 and 2020, the country held free elections, which the NLD won handily. But the Tatmadaw seized power in 2021, igniting nearly three years of brutal civil conflict in which the government has killed thousands of civilians.
Though the Three Brotherhood Alliance and similar ethnic armed groups have not taken over the whole country and the Tatmadaw still has far more firepower than any of the armed groups, the October 27 offensive and ensuing military successes have kindled a cautious hope that the military dictatorship could be toppled.”
““This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,” Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results.
A review of the chaotic weeks between Trump’s defeat at the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack shows that Johnson led the way in shaping legal arguments that became gospel among GOP lawmakers who sought to derail Biden’s path to the White House — even after all but the most extreme options had elapsed.
As Trump’s legal challenges faltered, Johnson consistently spread a singular message: It’s not over yet. And when Texas filed a last-ditch lawsuit against four states on Dec. 8, 2020, seeking to invalidate their presidential election results and throw out millions of ballots, Johnson quickly revealed he would be helming an effort to support it with a brief signed by members of Congress.
Throughout that period, Johnson was routinely in touch with Trump, even more so than many of his more recognizable colleagues.
Some of Johnson’s vocal opponents at the Jan. 5, 2021, closed-door meeting were Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who warned Johnson’s plan would lead to a constitutional and political catastrophe.
“Let us not turn the last firewall for liberty we have remaining on its head in a bit of populist rage for political expediency,” Roy said at the time, according to the record.
Nearly three years later, on Wednesday afternoon, Roy and Bacon cast two of the unanimous House GOP votes to make Johnson the next speaker.”
“Johnson then ran through a litany of allegations of election law changes in key states that he said were unconstitutional — and then he lent credence to a discredited claim of election fraud: “The allegation about these voting machines, some of them being rigged with the software by Dominion — look, there’s a lot of merit to that.”
In the same interview, Johnson — who as speaker will be privy to the nation’s most sensitive intelligence secrets — returned to the Dominion matter. He embraced the false description of Dominion machines as “a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.”
When the hosts pressed Johnson on Trump’s losses in court, the Louisianan noted that there were still a dozen suits pending but it was an “uphill climb.” Later that day, House Republicans elected Johnson as the vice chair of the GOP conference.
When Johnson joined the effort to support Texas’ fight at the Supreme Court, he said Trump had been in touch with him yet again.
“President Trump called me this morning to let me know how much he appreciates the amicus brief we are filing on behalf of Members of Congress,” Johnson tweeted the next day.”
“As he understands it, this country was founded as a Christian nation. And he stands in a long tradition of conservative white evangelicals, particularly inside the Southern Baptist Convention, who have a distinct understanding of what that means. And this is where evangelical author and activist David Barton comes in.
Johnson has said that Barton’s ideas and teachings have been extremely influential on him, and that is essentially rooting him in this longer tradition of Christian nationalism. Christian nationalism essentially posits the idea that America is founded on God’s laws, and that the Constitution is a reflection of God’s laws. Therefore, any interpretation of the Constitution must align with Christian nationalists’ understanding of God’s laws. Freedom for them means freedom to obey God’s law, not freedom to do what you want. So really, Christian supremacy and a particular type of conservative Christianity is at the heart of Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution and an understanding of our government.”
“The core principles of our nation reflect these biblical truths and biblical principles. He has gone on record saying things like, for him, this biblical worldview means that all authority comes from God and that there are distinct realms of God-ordained authority, and that is the family, the church and the government.
Now, all this authority, of course, is under this broader understanding of God-given authority. So it’s not the right of any parents to decide what’s best for their kids; it’s the right of parents to decide what’s best for their kids in alignment with his understanding of biblical law. Same thing with the church’s role: It is to spread Christianity but also to care for the poor. That’s not the government’s job.
And then the government’s job is to support this understanding of authority and to align the country with God’s laws.”
“one of Johnson’s core principles of American conservatism — as he reiterated them in his speech on Wednesday — is free enterprise. For conservative evangelicals, they don’t really see much of a tension between these”
“Sen. Tommy Tuberville is not relenting from his monthslong blockade of military nominations over the Biden administration’s abortion policy — even in the face of one of America’s closest allies going to war.”
“over 300 nominees are in limbo, including two picks for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and top officers slated to command U.S. forces in the Middle East.”
“Democrats could force votes on any of these nominees at any time. Yet Senate Democratic leadership for months has remained steadfast against holding individual votes for military nominations, citing the length of time it would take to get through them all and the precedent of quick, en masse confirmations for uniformed leaders.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately warned his conference that Democrats may ultimately feel compelled to change Senate rules if Tuberville and others don’t relent.”
“The state’s legislature is so aggressively gerrymandered that it is likely impossible for Republicans to lose control of it in an election. In 2018, for example, Democratic state assembly candidates received 54 percent of the popular vote in Wisconsin, but Republicans still won 63 of the assembly’s 99 seats.
There is, however, a light at the end of this tunnel both for small-d democrats and for large-D Democrats in the notoriously contentious swing state. Last April, Justice Janet Protasiewicz won a landslide election victory over a former, very conservative state justice. She took her seat at the beginning of August, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority on the state supreme court. (Technically, supreme court races in Wisconsin are nonpartisan, but every recent race has pitted a liberal supported by Democrats against a conservative supported by Republicans.)
Litigants challenging the gerrymandered state legislature filed a lawsuit, known as Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the very next day.
A quirk in the state constitution, however, may allow Wisconsin’s gerrymandered legislature to strip Protasiewicz of her ability to decide cases, and to do so indefinitely. That would leave the state supreme court evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and thus unable (or, at least, unwilling) to strike down the state’s gerrymander.
According to the New York Times, “Republicans in Wisconsin are coalescing around the prospect of impeaching” Protasiewicz. If the state assembly moved forward with impeachment, and then the gerrymandered state Senate convicted her, that wouldn’t actually be that big of a deal. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers could immediately appoint a replacement justice, who would then provide the fourth vote to strike down the gerrymandered maps.
But the state constitution also provides that “no judicial officer shall exercise [her] office, after [s]he shall have been impeached, until [her] acquittal.” So the state assembly could conceivably impeach Protasiewicz, and then the state senate could delay her trial forever — effectively creating a vacancy on the court that could last for a very long time.
There’s a very strong argument that this impeachment plan violates the First Amendment. So, if Republicans actually move forward with this plan, Protasiewicz or some other interested party would likely file a federal lawsuit seeking to restore her to office. But, even if that lawsuit succeeds, that could take years.
And there’s no guarantee that the federal judiciary, and especially a US Supreme Court with six GOP-appointed justices, would honor past precedents indicating that Protasiewicz cannot be suspended from her office. Indeed, one member of the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito, has already signaled that he will intervene to ensure that Republicans keep their stranglehold on the state legislature.”
“if Protasiewicz’s court also is not allowed to strike down these gerrymanders, the people of Wisconsin will be left with no lawful recourse whatsoever against permanent Republican control of their state legislature.”
“Tarrio’s sentence closes a significant chapter in the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack. His 22-year sentence is likely to remain the lengthiest for anyone charged in connection with the attack itself — a mark that exceeds the 18-year sentences handed down to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Tarrio’s ally Ethan Nordean.
Prosecutors portrayed Tarrio as a uniquely influential figure who singularly organized a group of hardened Proud Boys members and aimed them at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They said his sentence had to serve as a deterrent to anyone who might target America’s system of government in the future.
“He was on a tier of his own,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Mulroe. “This was a calculated act of terrorism.””
“Tarrio also apologized to police officers, lawmakers and D.C. residents for the carnage of Jan. 6.
“I had the choice multiple times to calm things out and I didn’t. I persisted when I should have calmed,” he said.”
““That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power,” said U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly as he delivered Biggs’ sentence. “The mob brought an entire branch of government to heel.””
“Kelly, an appointee of Donald Trump, agreed with prosecutors that the crimes committed by Biggs and Rehl amounted to an act of terrorism aimed at influencing the government. In Jan. 6 cases, that distinction had until Thursday been applied only to members of the Oath Keepers who were similarly convicted of seditious conspiracy or obstruction.
Kelly spoke at length about his decision to apply the terrorism label and how the Jan. 6 attack compared to other, more stereotypical acts of terrorism that involve mass casualties or bombings.
“While blowing up a building in some city somewhere is a very bad act, the nature of the constitutional moment we were in that day is something that is so sensitive that it deserves a significant sentence,” Kelly said.
The judge, however, did not use the terrorism designation to sharply increase his sentences for Biggs and Rehl. Doing so, he said, would result in an overly harsh punishment because the terrorism enhancement is primarily geared to actions with an “intent to kill” — which he did not attribute to Biggs or Rehl.
The sentences are an important marker in the fraught aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors, who had asked for a 33-year sentence for Biggs and 30 years for Rehl, said they and their co-conspirators were the driving force behind the violence that unfolded that day, facilitating breaches at multiple police lines and helping the crowd advance into the building itself. A jury convicted the five Proud Boys of multiple conspiracies in June, after a four-month trial that recounted their actions in painstaking detail.
Prosecutors urged Kelly to severely punish Biggs and Rehl as a way to deter others who might consider similar actions in the future aimed at disrupting the government.”
“Prosecutors say the group amassed a force of 200 hand-selected Proud Boys and marched them to the Capitol, where many of them skirmished with police or removed barriers intended to keep the crowd at bay. Nordean and Biggs were convicted of dismantling a black metal fence that was one of police’s last obstacles before the crowd reached the building.”
“When Trump told supporters on Dec. 19, 2020, to amass in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Tarrio and the Proud Boys leaders quickly responded and began assembling a new chapter that they described as a group of more disciplined and obedient men who would follow their orders. That group, which they dubbed the “Ministry of Self-Defense,” became the core of the group that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
“During Rehl’s sentencing, Pattis more squarely put the blame for the riot on Trump, saying many in the crowd were simply following his instructions and had no reason to doubt their commander in chief. Pattis mused that it seemed unfair for Rehl to be charged with seditious conspiracy while Trump was not.”
“If Russia hadn’t invaded, Ukraine was meant to hold parliamentary elections next month and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Whether elections could or should happen is once again a lively topic of discussion in Kyiv, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in late August called for Kyiv to organize “free and fair” elections even when it is under all-out assault from Russian attacks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is strongly suggesting he wants to run for a second term. “In 2024, if the war continues and if elections are held, I will never in my life abandon my country. Because I am the guarantor of the Constitution, and I will defend it in any case,” he said in a recent interview with the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP.
Zelenskyy responded to Graham by saying he is ready — if parliament agrees — to overturn the martial law that bans the country from holding elections in time of war, but it’s a topic that raises major questions about democratic legitimacy: most TV channels are heavily controlled by the government, soldiers would have to vote in frontline trenches and millions of Ukrainians have fled abroad.”