AOC and others have shared frightening first-hand details from the attempted coup on January 6th, 2021.
Update 2/2/2021: On Monday night, Representative Ocasio-Cortez once again took to Instagram Live to share her experience of the attack on the Capitol building in more detail.
She talked about the frightening moment when an unknown man made his way into her office shouting, "Where is she?" as she hid behind a bathroom door believing that he was likely there to kill her — "this was the moment where I thought everything was over,"
Even the realization that this man was a Capitol police officer didn't feel like a guarantee that he was looking out for her safety — an uncertainty which friendly interactions between police and attackers would later justify. She described sheltering in Representative Katie Porter's office as they received reports of bombs being found and made contingency plans for escaping out a window or into a safer office.
The intensity and detail of her account are striking, as is her decision to share a personal context for how she processes the experience, relating that she is "a survivor of sexual assault," and noting that "when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."
But perhaps the most important moment of the stream was her comparison of recent calls for us all to "move on" from the insurrection — often from those who stoked the misinformation that brought it on — to "the tactics of abusers," saying, "this is at a point where it's not about the difference of political opinion. This is about just basic humanity."
On Tuesday night, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York's 14th congressional district took to Instagram Live to share her experience of last week's frightening events at Capitol Hill.
Ocasio-Cortez has made a point of making herself accessible to the public, sharing her cooking, her gaming, and even her struggle to find affordable housing through social media. It's a practice that has contributed to the adoration of her fans as well as the vitriol of her detractors. But she has never shared anything quite as personal and affecting as her experience of the attempted coup on January 6th.
The attempted coup that took place at the Capitol building on Wednesday was equal parts terrifying and hilarious.
In times of crisis and chaos, it's important to keep a clear head and stay on top of the facts.
It's important to acknowledge that this was an unprecedented breach of security that could easily have been avoided and that it resulted in the deaths of at least four people.
But once you've processed the horror that entails, it's equally important to allow yourself a break from the tension and anxiety. Now and then it's essential to look at things from a different angle and just laugh at the absurdity.
Wednesday's attack on Capitol Hill was a great reminder of that lesson. Amid images of fascists and white supremacists taking over the Capitol building to disrupt the functioning of the federal government, chase legislators into hiding, and delay the confirmation of Joe Biden's clear victory over Donald Trump — waving the confederate flag, smashing things, stealing things, and generally getting away with it — there was also an abundance of clownish, hilarious behavior.
Some of the absurdity involved people being intentionally funny, while some of it displayed a raw, natural talent for being obliviously laughable. But all of it provided potent relief from the sense of American democracy falling to a movement of delusional bigots led by a petty conman (though that's still a disturbing possibility).
So as we move forward and focus on action to ameliorate the risk of further violence — anti-coup protests, impeachment, the 25th amendment — it's worth looking back at some of the highlights of absurdity that sprouted from Wednesday's waking nightmare.
At any rate, with all this absurdity, you have to laugh...or cry...or both, simultaneously while huddled in your closet.
How founded are the concerns about the app's security?
Say what you want about TikTok, but there's no question that the app is a massive success.
TikTok has surpassed 2 billion downloads and set a record for app installs in a single quarter, making it one of the most popular apps of all time. But as concerns about the security of the Chinese owned social media network mount, TikTok's future in the United States is looking more and more uncertain.
On Friday, President Trump told reporters that he would ban TikTok from operating in the United States through emergency economic powers or an executive order. This comes after concerns about the apps use of data, particularly the concern that the Chinese government has access to the data the app gathers from American users.
TikTok fans immediately expressed their concern, with one user, Ehi Omigie, saying, "Everyone is live right now," in a livestream on the app Friday night after news of Trumps statement spread. "Everyone is going cray cray ... If it does happen, follow me on Instagram."
Does Trump have the power to legally ban TikTok?
While it remains unclear what exactly banning the app would look like from a legal perspective, Trump could possibly add TikTok to a list of foreign entities that "present a greater risk of diversion to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, terrorism, or other activities contrary to U.S. national security and/or foreign policy interests," thereby forcing Apple and Google to stop supporting the app.
This has been a successful strategy in the past. Last year, Trump added the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei to the "entity list," successfully forcing Google to cut ties with the company. But according to Variety, "'Putting TikTok on that list would be unusual and legally dubious,' James Lewis, director of technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), recently told The Verge. There's no evidence TikTok has engaged in criminal activity threatening U.S. national security, although TikTok was fined for alleged violations of the U.S.'s child data-privacy law (which the FTC is reinvestigating)."
Additionally, given Trump's history of unsubstantiated claims, many Americans doubted whether his threat was worth taking seriously. That was until Sunday, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Trump's statement on Fox News, saying, "Here's what I hope that the American people will come to recognize -- these Chinese software companies doing business the United States, whether it's TikTok or WeChat, there are countless more ... are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus—could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they're connected to."
He continued, "President Trump has said enough and we're going to fix it and so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party."
Pompeo concluded, "I promise you the President, when he makes his decision, will make sure that everything we have done drives us as close to zero risk for the American people. That's the mission set that he laid out for all of us when we began to evaluate this now several months back. We're closing in on a solution and I think you'll see the President's announcement shortly," he said.
Trump sets deadline for TikTok sale or shutdown www.youtube.com
Can Trump make money off a TikTok deal?
Trump has said that unless an American company buys the US sector of TikTok, the app will be banned from September 15th onward. He has also stated that he believes the US treasury should get a cut of any deal that is made. He said, "The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible," he said. "It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that's the way I think, and I think it's very fair."
A governing body taking a portion of the profit from this kind of transaction would be unheard of. Charlotte Jee, a reporter at MIT Technology Review, said Trump's comments were "pretty astonishing." She said: "I hate to say this but it is kind of almost Mafia-like behaviour - threatening a ban which pushes down the price then saying, 'Oh we should get a cut of that deal afterwards to say thank you for what we've done there.'"
She continues, "It is extraordinary behaviour as well because last week we had lawmakers in the US trying to look at whether tech companies are too big and now we've got Trump trying to make one of them even bigger so it is a really, really bizarre situation to be in."
Trump hates TikTok teens
It's worth noting that this threat from the President comes just weeks after users of the app claimed responsibility for the poor turn out at Trump's Tulsa rally. As Eden Gordon noted in her article "K-Pop Stans and TikTok Teens Trolled a Trump Rally—What Could They Do Next?," "A coterie of K-pop stans and teenagers on the app TikTok say they came together and inspired thousands of people to reserve tickets to the rally—with no intentions of showing up. It seems to have worked. 'My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America's teens,' tweeted Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt on Wednesday. Over the weeks before the rally, thousands of kids registered to attend the Tulsa event; it practically became an Internet meme."
Are the Chinese really stealing data through TikTok?
While it's possible that Trump's desire to ban TikTok is partly due to TikTok user's activism at his expense, there are well-founded concerns about the safety of the app.
TikTok is owned by a large Beijing based social media company called ByteDance. Since its inception, TikTok has released several app updates that included urgent security vulnerabilities, but experts agree that's not uncommon for social media apps. The majority of concerns about TikTok's security revolve around fears that the Chinese government is receiving the data of American users. As Forbes notes, "In recent weeks, we have seen reports emerge suggesting that TikTok is 'Chinese spyware,' alleging that the app steals data from users' devices and sends it to China. This is certainly not proven and almost certainly not true on any level, at least not in the way it is presented."
Like any social networking app, TikTok does collect and monetize data from its users. But that's no different than Facebook or Twitter. "It's not any worse or any better than what Facebook, Google and thousands of apps are doing already," Cyjax CISO Ian Thornton-Trump tells Forbes. "Any free service is going to want to monetize the data it's accumulating."
Of course, the big difference comes from the fact that TikTok is a Chinese company that is gathering information on American citizens, and it's the first social media app owned by a foreign power to truly compete with American owned networks. While the data gathering itself may not be inherently insidious, experts believe that the way China uses it could be.
Thornton-Trump goes on to say, "TikTok and other apps present a danger of mass manipulation and social control and disinformation. The danger may be minimal to the individual but serious for society and democracy." Still, one has to question how this is any different than Facebook, which faced major backlash over accusations of influencing the 2016 election via data gathering of this nature. There's no question that a heavy dose of nationalism is no small part of the American backlash against TikTok.
Of course, TikTok is desperate to dispel any concerns. In a statement shared with USA TODAY Saturday, TikTok said, "US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access." They added that the company's "biggest investors come from the US."
Can TikTok be saved?
According to the New York Times, "The powerful Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, has been examining ByteDance's 2017 purchase of Musical.ly, an app that eventually morphed to become TikTok. The committee has decided to order ByteDance to divest TikTok, and the government is engaged in negotiations over the terms of the separation, according to a person familiar with the administration's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."
Apparently, Microsoft and other companies are in negotiations to purchase TikTok. after a call between Microsoft's chief executive Satya Nadella and Mr Trump, Microsoft confirmed on Sunday in a blog post that it would continue discussions about possibly buying TikTok. It remains unknown whether the app will really be deactivated in the US come September 15th if a deal isn't made.
We have his public explanation, but it's worth considering his underlying motivation
On Wednesday afternoon Mitt Romney announced that he would be voting to convict President Donald Trump in the Senate's impeachment trial.
Romney became the only Republican to join in the Democrats vote to convict Donald Trump for abuses of power and remove him from office—a vote that failed, 48-52, resulting in President Trump's acquittal. The move also immediately inspired mass calls to remove Romney from the senate with #RecallRomney trending across Twitter almost immediately after the announcement was made public. Romney explained his reasoning in a statement on the senate floor, saying of Trump's crimes that "Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine." But that only tells us what he wants us to know. There remains a question of his underlying motivation, and there are four basic theories that cover the full gamut of possibilities.
Theory 1: He Did it Because He's Brave
According to this theory, Romney is essentially telling the truth. He believed Trump was guilty, and he was too principled to vote for acquittal for reasons of political expediency. Trump and his fellow Republicans would not be jumping down his throat if he had gone along with the rest of the party, but it would also have given Donald Trump a stronger case to claim that the whole impeachment was a sham. Romney's vote wasn't enough to secure a conviction, but if every Republican had voted in lockstep against conviction, then the whole enterprise would could easily have been written off by Trump and his allies as a witch hunt by the wacky Democrats, and Trump would have leapt immediately to claiming exoneration. Romney basically sacrificed himself for the cause of democracy and justice. This is the theory behind another trending hashtag #MittRomneyIsMyHero.
Theory 2: He Did it Because He's Stupid
Did he really think a nice speech and a surprise vote was going to turn the tides? Trump and his loyalists (i.e. most of the Republican party) have no problem abandoning a former ally and throwing him under the bus. They've turned against John Bolton, Steve Bannon, Jim Mattis, Michael Cohen and countless others from Trump's inner circle. They feel no qualms about declaring a Trump-critic like Romney a traitor—which is why #RomneyIsADemocrat is also trending. But it's not as though the Democrats will actually welcome Romney to their side. They still disagree with him on basically everything. All he managed to do, according to this theory, is to isolate himself and doom his political future.
Theory 3: He Did it Because He's Jealous
Mitt Romney ran for president against Barack Obama in 2012. When he was pressured to release his tax returns he gave in, and it likely contributed to him losing the election. Donald Trump has never given in to any sense of duty, dignity, or decorum, and that's why he was elected president in 2016. Mitt Romney was a vocal critic at the time and has remained a critic because, according to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., "Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS."
Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joini… https://t.co/IA9GnnQ2zi— Donald Trump Jr. (@Donald Trump Jr.) 1580931158.0
Theory 4: He Did it Because He Can
This is the theory that takes all the other theories into consideration, and adds some more logistics. Romney may be brave, stupid, and jealous, but the major reason he felt free to vote for Trump's removal is that he had no reason not to. Romney serves as Senator for the state of Utah, where the Mormon church and Mormon values still reign. Unlike many other Christian groups in America, the Church of Latter Day Saints has had a hard time getting behind a crass, philandering, biblically illiterate man. In 2016 Utah gave Evan McMullin more than 21% of the vote—the highest proportion a third-party candidate received in any state—largely on the basis of his #NeverTrump campaign. Utah is the one Republican stronghold where that tactic plays reasonably well. On top of that, Romney won't be up for reelection until 2024. He may be playing a long game, hoping that Trump will have lost popularity by then.
Regardless of your opinion, it's worth checking out Romney's statement before jumping on one of these hashtag trends.
The view was actually...interesting?
Donald Trump Jr. appeared on this morning's episode of The View with his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle as part of the promotional tour for Trump Jr.'s new book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.
Meghan McCain Confronts Donald Trump Jr. on His Father's 'Character' | The View www.youtube.com
If the purpose of the interview was to provoke as much drama and incoherent cross-talk as possible, it was a wild success. The insanity opened with Meghan McCain at her passive-aggressive best, insisting that people "miss the soul" of America, and asking if Trump Jr. felt good about his father insulting the gold star Khan family. From there things devolved into defensive accusations of blackface and rape-minimizing, rehashing of the Trump-McCain feud, and Whoopi Goldberg loudly pleading for an unspecified someone to apologize. Meanwhile, whoever runs Trump Jr.'s Twitter account was already on the offensive, digging up the video of Joy Behar discussing her "beautiful African woman" costume from 50 years ago.
How is it not blackface?
As the interview continued, Trump Jr. deflected questions about Ukraine—and his tweet containing the name of an alleged whistle-blower—by calling out ABC and CBS for cooperating in the reported firing of an employee who recently leaked footage of anchor Amy Robach. The footage in question exposed an apparent top-down effort to bury the Jeffrey Epstein story. Jeffrey Epstein, of course, was the wealthy financier at the center of an elite pedophile ring who didn't kill himself in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in August.
Try to ignore the fact that this was leaked by Project Veritas...
Apart from this public service, the whole interview was a mess. It should have been obvious to anyone watching that it was not going to go well. Along with the extensive history of vitriol passing between the Trump family and the hosts of The View, Trump Jr.'s appearance was a dead giveaway. He looked gaunt and waxen, his forehead slick with a sheen of cold sweat, eyes wild, red, and swollen with exhaustion. It was hard not to be reminded of Kendall Roy in the season two premiere of Succession. The haggard interview where his sister says he's "like a sweaty corpse," and his brother-in-law compares him to "an unshaven candle."
Of course Kendall Roy's rough appearance in that interview is tied closely to his cocaine addiction. While it would be inappropriate to suggest that Donald Trump Jr. has any relationship with stimulants, it would explain his frenzied cadence as he declared that "it is worth it, when I go around the country, and I see people who are affected by these policies, who are getting to live their American dream again," his words tripping over each other in the race to slip past his bleached-white teeth.
Triggered was published on Tuesday and has received rave reviews for containing delightful stories, like the time Donald Trump let Trump Jr. play video games with Michael Jackson and how that means he's not racist. It's available now, wherever awful ghostwritten books are sold.