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Politics Report: A Disturbing Week

Darrell Issa / Photo by Megan Wood

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa tried to rebrand his votes to overturn the U.S. presidential election as expressions of his concern about proper procedure. He had written, the night of the violence, that what happened was unacceptable and it was time for us all to come together.

“This is a time to give our all, honor our institutions and uphold our American democracy,” he wrote.

But he still felt obligated to explain his votes. They were just expressions of concern about the law.

“In Pennsylvania, the State Supreme Court extended the ballot deadline in violation of state statute. In Arizona, the Federal District Court changed election registration deadlines in violation of state statute, letting tens of thousands of voters to inappropriately cast votes,” he wrote.

He went on [1]: “My colleagues and I spoke out in support of ballot integrity and the sacred right to vote.  The process is now complete and a peaceful and orderly transition of power will occur, as it should.”

I’m not entirely convinced he thought it should.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was much clearer about what actually was happening with those votes. “We are debating a step that has never been taken in American history: whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election,” he said.

Issa was trying to overturn the election. The president expressly wanted him to, and pressured many of his colleagues in the House and Senate to. As the latest videos and witness testimony from inside the mob make horrifically clear, had the marauders been able to locate the lawmakers or Vice President Mike Pence, they would have tried to murder them.

And after that happened, Issa indulged the conspiracy theory that drove the mad horde into the Capitol.

That’s what makes this so different and disturbing from anything I have ever seen in politics and unrest. Issa and others have several times referred to the mass demonstrations and ancillary violence this summer as comparable. They aren’t close. The attack this week was deliberately coordinated to disrupt and violently subjugate the Congress.

“This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial this task is for our republic,” McConnell said after he re-entered the Capitol safely.

If you genuinely believed the things that the mob who went after lawmakers believed – that the election was stolen by these lawmakers along with an alliance of corporations and communists and pedophiles – you may feel like doing what they did. That’s what makes endorsing, validating and amplifying the lie so dangerous.

And that’s what Issa did.

He’s minimizing it now but it is not a dragon you can ride. It will get out of control. It did — and people died.

Related: I have been following closely the reporting about Ashli Babbitt, the Ocean Beach resident who flew to Washington D.C. to participate and was shot by Capitol Police as she tried to break into the Speaker’s Lobby on the second floor of the Capitol.

The Washington Post has the most complete, clear video compilation of her death [2]. I think it’s an important window into what happened but it is very disturbing, so think twice. The website bellingcat compiled all Babbitt’s social media drops to try to make sense [3] of how she went from an Air Force veteran to a radical storming the Capitol.

She was heavily influenced by QAnon — the mother of all conspiracy theories that has evolved into a quasi-religion. I recommend following the QAnon Anonymous podcast if you want to understand it more. If you’re new, start with their introductory podcast [4].

This stuff is not in the shadows anymore.

Local Republicans Set to Elect Next Chair

Monday, the Republican Party of San Diego County will go forward with choosing its new chair.

Paula Whitsell, the South Bay Realtor who Chairman Tony Krvaric promoted as his choice, looks like she still has the votes to take the volunteer role.

This week, she was also not ready to move on from the contention that Trump should still be president. She retweeted a Dinesh D’Souza post where he said any Republican who did not support the effort to overturn the election would have no future as a leader in the party.

“President Trump had the backs of the American people for 4 years. The least we can do now is stand up for our President! We got your back!” she wrote [5].

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate was horrified by what unfolded Wednesday: “It’s all fucking ridiculous. It’s tragic that it’s come to this and it doesn’t bode well for those of us who are trying to present a case that reasonable people can have pol differences and there’s a means to resolve those that is befitting the vision of the founders of this country.”

Shirley Weber’s Seat

Before the end of the year, I compiled that list [6] of candidates who may run for Shirley Weber’s 79th Assembly District seat. We’ve seen some developments since then. It could be a fascinating race.

Dr. Akilah Weber confirmed she was running.

Ammar Campa-Najjar also formed an exploratory committee.

And this week we got a new entrant: Leticia Munguia. She’s the business representative for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, District 36, the union of unions representing public workers across Southern California. She grew up in San Diego as a daughter of immigrants from Mexico and went on to law school at Michigan State.

She may have some powerful allies in the race. Newly elected Supervisor Nora Vargas and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez both cheered Munguia’s announcement she was running.

“She’s a woman who went to law school and committed her life to serving workers! I love that! I’m supportive of her running. The Latino Caucus will weigh in soon and then I will endorse officially. There may be other candidates running still. But she is smart, hard working and a badass,” Gonzalez told me.

Andy will be out a couple of weeks and then he’ll be back. Until then it’s just me. He’s only left me really normal weeks of Politics Reports. Very easy. Don’t need him. Happy New Year. Send ideas and feedback to scott@voiceofsandiego.org.