Jim Beam column: Pelosi, Carlson topping news

Published 6:38 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Tucker Carlson of Fox News, a conspiracy promoter, the Secret Service and Jan. 6 rioters have been at the center of recent and troubling news events.

Pelosi created a firestorm by visiting Taiwan despite threats from China that it would retaliate in some way. CNN said her trip comes at a low point in U.S.-China relations and despite warnings from the Biden administration that it was a bad move on her part.

Tucker Carlson of Fox News has criticized President Biden for boasting about U.S. forces killing Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. He also said Biden provoked the war in Ukraine. Newsweek said Carlson’s comments are regularly portrayed on Russian state television as aligning with the Kremlin’s point of view.

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Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, are suing a man named Alex Jones. The Associated Press said Jones and his Infowars website claimed the 2012 attack that killed 20 first graders and six school staffers was a hoax or faked.

A forensic psychiatrist hired by the Sandy Hook couple said, “The overwhelming cause of their pain is what Jones is doing.” He said their post-traumatic stress disorder is similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child abuse victims.

The psychiatrist said Heslin has had guns fired at his home and has been accosted on the street. Lewis told the psychiatrist she has installed sophisticated surveillance equipment at her home and sleeps with a gun, a knife and pepper spray at her bedside.

Then, there is the Secret Service text message story. U.S. Inspector General Joseph Cuffari sent a letter to two congressional committees last month disclosing that Secret Service text messages sent and received around Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the Capitol riot, were deleted despite requests from Congress and federal investigators that they be preserved.

The AP said those missing Secret Service texts are critical because they could shed further light on then-President Donald Trump’s action during the insurrection, particularly after testimony about his confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol.

That takes us to the rioters. In a Monday trial, prosecutors said Guy Reffitt told fellow members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group that he planned to drag Pelosi out of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, by her ankles, “with her head hitting every step on the way down.”

That comment obviously explains one of the major reasons why he was sentenced Monday to more than seven years in prison, the longest sentence imposed so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

Reffitt struggled to explain why he stormed the Capitol, calling it a “big blur.” However, the judge questioned the sincerity of his apology and expressions of remorse because he has been publishing statements from jail portraying himself and other rioters as patriots rebelling against a tyrannical U.S. government.

Two other rioters had the longest sentence before Reffitt had his day in court. Mark Ponder, 56, of Washington, D.C., said last week he “got caught up” in the chaos that erupted and “didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Prosecutors said Ponder said, “At some point in time, the way the country is going, you gonna have to pick a side.” However, later he told the judge, “I wasn’t thinking that day.” Ponder asked for mercy before she sentenced him to more than five years in prison.

Robert Palmer, a Florida man, got the same sentence. More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes and over 350 defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted.

Now that we have discussed these “wild and crazy” news events, what conclusions can we draw?

For starters, Pelosi needs to retire. The trip to Taiwan was bad timing on her part and one Asian expert called it “a foolish political stunt.”

As for Carlson, I liked a tweet that said, “Tucker seems mad that America killed a bad guy.”

The Sandy Hook couple is suing Jones for $150 million and deserves every penny the two can get.

Like others, I am suspicious about those missing Secret Service texts. They may have proved what witnesses told the Jan. 6 committee Trump was doing that day, which the Secret Service has denied.

Finally, many of the rioters who have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty can’t expect any sympathy for causing their historic insurrection.