Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), one of the 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote to impeach former President Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, announced on Friday that he will not seek reelection. Katko is only the latest in a string of anti-Trump Republicans to push the ejector button as the party pressures dissenters to fall in line.
“My conscience, principles, and commitment to do what’s right have guided every decision I’ve made as a member of Congress, and they guide my decision today,” Katko, who at 59 is relatively young by congressional standards, said in a statement. He noted his desire to “enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.”
The announcement comes just a week after Politico published a sprawling profile of Katko headlined, “Does John Katko Have the Secret to Thwarting Trump?” The piece ran down Katko’s sins in the eyes of the new Republican Party, including acknowledging the legitimacy of the 2020 election, voting to impeach Trump following Jan. 6, voting to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments for her rhetoric, voting for President Biden’s infrastructure plan, and more. Splitting with Trump and the wrath that it incurred portended a tough 2022 reelection campaign, but Politico noted that Katko still had a good chance to hold onto his seat for a fifth term.
“So much for that,” Michael Kruse, who wrote the story, tweeted after Katko’s announcement on Friday.
Three of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last January have now announced they will not seek reelection. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), only 37, announced in September that he would not be running in 2022, calling Trump a “cancer for the country.” A month later, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), 43, announced that he too would be calling it quits. Kinzinger, one of the most vocal Trump critics in the GOP, is one of two Republicans serving on the Jan. 6 committee. “In this day, to prevail or survive, you must belong to a tribe,” he said in his announcement video, adding that parties are “appealing to the most motivated and the most extreme elements within it.”
This isn’t good news for Katko, whom Politico noted rates as one of the most middle-of-the-road lawmakers in Congress. He and every other Republican who has dared to defy Trump has realized with terrifying clarity this year that there’s no longer room for moderation in the GOP.
Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson Wax Idiotic on Climate Change and What It Means to Be Black
There is a meditative quality to both Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson’s work that sucks you in. For Rogan, it is his voice — a soft, curious, always credulous murmur that lends itself to explaining complicated topics. Watching Rogan deconstruct a mixed martial arts fight can be a genuine pleasure for fans of the sport, like listening to a close friend really nerd out over something they’re passionate about. Peterson is not as blessed sonically — he sounds like Kermit the Frog as a freshman philosophy major — but he too projects the same blithe confidence in his own words that can make almost any topic sound compelling.
The only problem is, Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are two of the dumbest people on earth. The wildly successful podcast host and self-help author’s careers have intersected and built on one another multiple times, as their core audience of disaffected young men is largely the same. Their paths crossed once again this week in a four-hour marathon conversation on The Joe Rogan Experience, during which Peterson bizarrely and very proudly wore a tuxedo. Their topics were varied, but almost all of them were intensely stupid, if not incoherent.
Here is Peterson, for instance, confidently proclaiming a theory on climate change loaded with circular arguments that all come back to the same point: It’s not real.
Holy moly. I don’t think I can do this. First words out of Peterson’s mouth in the Joe Rogan interview are complete self parody. I can’t even dunk on it. pic.twitter.com/hIDYPi0KDc
— bad_stats (@thebadstats) January 25, 2022
Peterson appears to be saying that because there are a large number of variables that influence the climate, it’s impossible to ascribe change to any particular variables (like, say, our massive consumption of fossil fuels). This is false, as the entire point of climate science is to identify which of those variables correlate to statistically significant changes in temperature or ozone levels et cetera, et cetera. And yet, Peterson talks on, saying the word “everything” multiple times without actually saying, well, anything. “Mmhm,” Rogan responds. “What do you mean by, ‘everything’?”
This sort of credulity is both Rogan’s biggest draw and his worst tendency. Rogan has built his brand around open-mindedness, which he passes off as “free thinking.” But in practice, instead of thinking about what his guests are saying to him, Rogan’s first instinct is to “mmhm” his way through topics that frequently stray into conspiracies, bigotry, or simple stupidity. Rogan’s guiding ethos doesn’t seem to be much more complicated than “seek out the controversial, and popular,” which has led him, during the pandemic, to repeatedly platform or publish misinformation about coronavirus and vaccines.
Gibberish like this is laced throughout Peterson’s latest appearance. At one point, Peterson claims more people die from solar energy than nuclear energy, because they fall off of roofs while installing the panels. He and Rogan take turns ruminating about how you can’t say anything as a comedian these days, because of “protected classes.” And of course, things really take a turn when they discuss race. Rogan takes the lead in this clip, claiming that Black radio host and academic Michael Eric Dyson, a Peterson critic, is not “Black,” based on a complicated and truly idiotic discussion of various skin tones.
On Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast — Jordan Peterson claims Michael Eric Dyson is “not Black”
Rogan replies: “Unless you are talking to someone who is like 100% African from the darkest place where they are not wearing any clothes all day … the term Black is weird.” pic.twitter.com/Wyk00WHwus
— Alex Paterson (@AlexPattyy) January 25, 2022
This one is basically a parody of itself, no debunking necessary. It even includes the sublime: “I’m not white, I’m Italian.” But in itself it’s a good example of why Rogan and Peterson are, collectively and individually, incredibly stupid and incredibly compelling. At the center of both of their work is the same mantra that blends conservative traditionalism and new-age guruism into a superficial concept of modern masculinity, a quick-fix guide for men who struggle to find self-worth in a fractured and callous world. Their work is aimed at people who are seeking enlightenment, people who think that they want to change their minds about something. What they’re served is a flood of babble that includes just enough introspection, surface-level analysis, and controversy to be passed off as incisive. This babble falls apart as soon as you step back and apply even a tiny bit of logic. We have mountains of provable data that certain climate variables correspond to climate change, racial identity is not tied to skin tone, and that falling off a roof and exposure to radioactive compounds are not comparable risks.
But there’s a reason Rogan’s podcasts often go so long, and that Peterson has published two lengthy books that basically say the same things: Once you’re in, you’re in. You’ve entered the mind palace. Your brain is just stimulated enough to fire off dopamine when one of these two instantly recognizable, friendly voices says something that confirms a prior belief or makes you feel better about something. The water is warm. There is nothing to fear. It’s a safe space to be a little racist, a little incredulous, a little simplistic. The only people it hurts are the uninitiated, those outside the tribe, and it’s their own fault for clinging to identities that don’t fit into the narrow philosophy Rogan and Peterson have distilled. If those people just manned up they can come on in, as well. They can leave their brain at the door. All the thinking they need is clearly going on inside.
Immolation’s Pitch-Black Death Metal Matures Like Fine Wine on ‘The Age of No Light’
Death metal started out in the mid-Eighties as a mad sprint: a scrappy cohort of underground acts each looking to push the limits of speed and shock value. But for many in that first generation, it’s turned out to be a marathon. Of the bands that helped to cement the subgenre’s core features of growled vocals, maximalist drumming, and swarming, seething riffs, many of them — from Obituary and Carcass to Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Deicide, and even de facto death-metal forefathers Possessed — aren’t just surviving, but thriving well past the three-decade mark, regularly issuing new music and drawing die-hard crowds worldwide.
Right alongside them are Immolation. The Yonkers, New York, quartet was never death metal’s most high-profile act — while some of their peers were inking major-label deals in the early Nineties, they were still slugging it out in the underground. But as the years rolled on, and many of those same contemporaries changed course, shed key members, or outright disbanded, Immolation co-founders Ross Dolan and Bob Vigna kept their heads down and all their energies focused on crafting some of the most darkly enthralling records the movement has ever seen. Standouts like their 1991 debut, Dawn of Possession, and 2000’s monstrously intense Close to a World Below have influenced countless younger bands, as well as above-ground titans like Slipknot, whose guitarist Mick Thomson has a blasphemous image from the Dawn cover tattooed on his arm.
Immolation’s unswerving aesthetic means that their current output instantly conjures the pitch-black aura of their classic work. “The Age of No Light,” the second advance track from the band’s upcoming 11th full-length, Acts of God (out Feb. 18), announces itself with an ominously trilling figure from Vigna, the band’s sole composer and a guitarist who often seems more like a spellcaster than a mere wrangler of riffs. The full band — rounded out by bassist-vocalist Dolan, guitarist Alex Bouks, and drummer Steve Shalaty — enters in a blast-beat-powered cloudburst, as Dolan roars out a portrait of the arriving apocalypse. A trademark Immolation move arrives early, in the form of a downshift into a fierce half-time groove, which Shalaty peppers with borderline-funky syncopated snare accents.
Part of the charm of early Immolation was how frantic and chaotic their arrangements could sound, but over time, they’ve become masters of pacing, with each twist adding intrigue to their dark mini epics. The crafty arrangement of “The Age of No Light” — where an ominously trudging midsection builds to an eerie two-guitar break and overlapping solos, pointing the way to a suitably dismal outro riff — shows how, 31 years after their debut, they’re focusing as much on atmosphere as aggression. And on Acts of God, with the help of longtime producer Paul Orofino, they’ve achieved some of their clearest, fullest-sounding studio sound yet. Who knew? Maturity and death metal mix pretty well, after all.
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.
Portland Police Used a Proud Boy Meme in Their Training Materials. The Feds Want Answers
The Portland City Attorney apologized Tuesday to the Department of Justice for not turning over riot-police training materials that included a right-wing meme about bashing “dirty” hippies. “In retrospect, I agree that we should have provided the material to DOJ sooner,” wrote city attorney Robert Taylor in a letter dated Jan. 25. “I take responsibility and apologize.”
The mea culpa comes days after the feds formally rebuked the Portland Police Bureau for covering up its use of a Proud Boys meme in training materials. A slide from a crowd-control PowerPoint developed for Portland police featured the “Prayer of the Alt Knight” — a meme showing a riot cop bashing a long-haired citizen, with an overlay of text that reads, in part: “Woe be unto you, dirty hippy… I shall send among you, My humble servants with hat, and with bat; That they may christen your heads with hickory, And anoint your faces with pepper spray.”
(The meme is linked to the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights,” identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys, the violent, far-right “Western chauvinist” group.)
The slide made headlines when it was released by Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office — despite the city attempting to bury the news by releasing it on the Friday afternoon before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
For the bureau’s critics, the slide gave lie to longstanding claims by PPB officials to have “zero opinion about the ideology or politics or speech” of protesters. In recent years, Portland has emerged as a rift zone, where the nation’s ideological divisions erupt violently in the streets. But rather than acting the part of neutral peace-keepers between right- and the left-wing factions, PPB officers often appear to welcome extremists like the Proud Boys as informal allies.
Lawyers for the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department blasted the city — both for the offensive content of the training, and for hiding the PowerPoint from Uncle Sam. “The City should have reported these [riot] training materials when they were developed, as required,” insists a letter sent to the city attorney and police chief last week. The materials were delivered to the feds on Jan. 14.
The Portland police have been under federal supervision for nearly a decade. The Justice Department found in 2012 that Portland police had engaged “in a pattern or practice of using excessive force” — in particular against those with mental illness. The bureau’s violent policing of Portland’s racial-justice protests, involving more than 6,000 uses of force in 2020 alone, caused PPB to fall out of compliance with its reform agreement with DOJ last year. Federal overseers have called out the bureau for an unconstitutional reliance on violence and a leadership that broadly sees “all force as justified.”
The Justice Department makes clear that problems with the PPB training extend beyond a single slide, and that the full, 110-slide deck features “training slides that have varying degrees of offensive content, incorrect guidance, and false or misleading information.” It adds that the government would have made “substantial edits” or rejected the training materials outright had it been made aware of them.
The DOJ lawyers add that “the existence of these [riot] training materials might have materially impacted our assessments of the City’s compliance” with federal oversight, because the training of crowd-control officers was “central to our 2021 annual compliance report” as well as to ongoing mediation.
The DOJ letter acidly denounces the city’s decision to keep the materials under wraps. “Some PPB and City employees knew or should have known about these materials for years,” it insists. “The City Attorney’s Office has reportedly known about them since at least September 2021.” In his apologetic response, City Attorney Taylor writes that he had planned to turn over the training slides as part of the city’s annual disclosures to the Justice Department later this month.
In Portland’s odd system of government, the mayor doubles as the police commissioner. Wheeler has said he was “disgusted” by the inclusion of the hippie-bashing slide. But his office said that the document had not been released to “protect the integrity” of an internal police investigation that started last September when the slide surfaced — as part of litigation against the Portland Police Bureau for alleged widespread brutality against protesters. (Despite having months to investigate, the police say they have no clear leads on who added the Proud Boy meme to the police training.)
“A Complete Lack Of Accountability”
The mayor’s office said it only made the slide public to get out in front of a legal filing in that brutality case, which has now been submitted to federal court. The motion in suit filed by the activist group Don’t Shoot Portland seeks class-action status “to hold PPB responsible for its violent and unlawful conduct against an estimated tens of thousands” of Black Lives Matter protesters.
The suit accuses PPB of unconstitutionally punishing entire crowds for the law-breaking actions of a few individuals, and of viewpoint discrimination against protesters who demanded police accountability. Citing the 6,000 uses of force as well as nearly 300 deployments of tear gas in the summer and fall of 2020, the lawsuit decries a politically motivated police “campaign of violence” against demonstrators.
“Ample evidence suggests that the PPB’s response to left-wing protests against white supremacy and police violence was motivated by the PPB’s strong disagreement with the message of those protests,” the motion alleges. “PPB’s violent response to those demonstrating against white supremacy and police brutality,” it adds, “is starkly contrasted by its… more favorable treatment of right-wing, neo-fascist, white supremacist demonstrators.”
The motion insists that Portland cops were “motivated by the goal of silencing advocates for police reform,” and it alleges that police tactics were so excessive that they would “chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in the [constitutionally] protected activity” of street protest. The document rebukes Portland police officers for repeatedly turning the streets of downtown into “a war zone with only one active army – the PPB – chasing fleeing civilians.”
Taking aim at PPB leadership as well as riot cops, the litigation decries “a complete lack of accountability” for officers who engaged in violence. A deposition of a PPB commander accompanying the lawsuit reveals that — across more than a dozen nights of protest from May through September 2020 — not a single officer was disciplined for excessive use of force.
The lawsuit also highlights two uses of force that a federal judge ruled violated a restraining order to protect protesters, resulting in federal contempt findings against PPB. But neither case resulted in discipline by the bureau.
An exchange in the deposition of the police commander speaks volumes to PPB’s view of itself as beyond reproach:
Lawyer: Does the City have concerns about making findings that are in direct contradiction to a federal court judge?
PPB Commander: No.
Juan Chavez, a civil rights attorney with the Oregon Justice Resource Center, is one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case. He denounces PPB for “failures of training, failures of policy, and failures of accountability.” Most outrageous, he insists, PPB has engaged in unconstitutional collective punishment of crowds of protesters — with tear gas, bull rushes, baton strikes, etc — when many had done nothing to justify that violence.
The fourth amendment standard for use of force, Chavez insists, is highly specific, requiring probable cause for each act of police violence and “each person they use force against.” Chavez elaborates that PPB, itself, has admitted to a practice of collective punishment: “We saw this time and time again in their own reporting,” Chavez says, paraphrasing the reports: “‘The crowd was hostile’; ‘The crowd was anti-police’; ‘The crowd was chanting ACAB’” (an acronym meaning all cops are bastards). Time and again, PPB officers were making the case “that an entire crowd now had generated the amount of legal justification to use force against them,” Chavez says. “And that’s just not how the Constitution is enforced.”
Chavez hastens to add that the aim of the class-action lawsuit is not to recover monetary damages, rather for the court to hand down “an enforceable order” against police violence. Chavez hopes that would curb PPB’s brutality going forward but also “validate the experience of tens of thousands of people who were injured in the street. They were told ‘PPB is following the law’ — when we know they know they weren’t.”
Read the class-action filing below:
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