Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Congressman Matt Gaetz and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene speak during an America First rally at the Dalton Convention Center in Dalton, Ga. on Thursday.

We'll have no Jan. 6 probe

Notably absent from the list of six Republicans who voted to at least entertain the creation of a 9/11-like panel to scrutinize the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol were Tennessee's Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn.

Hagerty instead joined the GOP filibuster to prevent a debate on a full accounting for the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries. Blackburn didn't even vote. She was one of 11 senators listed on the roll call tally as "not voting."

Of course, it's expected that our senators would want to dismiss the truth. They do it all the time. (See below.)

But refusing to allow an full investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection and attack on Capitol — either with a nay vote or with a missed vote — is nothing less than a cowardly cover-up by a majority of Republicans determined to shield their party from potential political damage that would come from a full accounting of the Capitol storming by a pro-Trump mob on the day Congress met to certify Joe Biden's election.

The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed to move the proposal forward. The brave six Republicans voting for a commission were Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan M. Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.


GOP hypes immigrant fear again

Speaking of dismissing truths rather than looking to uncover real threats to our democracy, Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, along with 3rd District U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann — have busied themselves this month with ramping up polarization right here in Chattanooga over a GOP-approved migrant children's shelter and the youngsters' transportation through the city.

The trio is proposing a Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act to increase transparency from the federal government about the movement and shelter of migrant children, a week after video surfaced of children getting off a plane here and a month after controversy arose over a temporary shelter at a local church.

That may sound reasonable on the surface, but the trouble is the federal government has been transparent. Tennessee and our congressional delegation have not been.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee seems to have forgotten that he and his administration not only knew about the shelter and transports, they approved them. And our congress folks should be able to read the multiple stories and editorials we've written on the matter, but still they beat their chests about a solution in search of problem.

The Times Free Press reported this week that Lee and his Department of Children's Services approved a license for the shelter to house unaccompanied migrant children a year ago — long before Lee and the lawmakers cried outrage last week about "illegal alien" dangers. The state also was informed when unaccompanied minors began arriving here in November 2020, according to documents from the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

Folks, this is not just disconnect. This is deliberate polarizing and shameless politicking.


QAnon has church-like popularity

That polarizing and shameless politicking leads us to the dark drumbeat reverberating in far-right politics.

The darkness is evident in a new poll that finds QAnon, the outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theories spread by some of Donald Trump's most faithful followers, is as popular in America as some major religions.

The poll, released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, found that 15 percent of Americans say they think the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that "American patriots may have to resort to violence" to depose the pedophiles and restore the country's rightful order. And 20% of respondents said they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and "restore the rightful leaders."

"These are words I never thought I would write into a poll question, or have the need to, but here we are," Robby Jones, the founder of PRRI, said in an interview with the New York Times.

Jones said he was struck by the prevalence of QAnon's adherents. Using extrapolation, he said the poll respondents agreeing with QAnon ideas would be the equivalent of more than 30 million people.

"Thinking about QAnon, if it were a religion, it would be as big as all-white evangelical Protestants, or all-white mainline Protestants. So it lines up there with a major religious group."


The GOP's dark deal with the devil

That dark drumbeat also seems to explain why the saner members of the Republican party seem afraid the buck the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Matt Gaetzs of our time.

Those two trash-talking, QAnon-flirting U.S. representatives drew more than a hundred supporters in Dalton on Thursday. Greene, who represents North Georgia, again advanced "the big lie," and Gaetz, R-Florida, got a standing ovation when he talked about the Second Amendment giving people "the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government."

Need we look any further for evidence of why Senate Republicans filibustered to block a Jan. 6. Commission?

Republicans made a deal with the devil after they saw how resonant Donald Trump's message of sexism, racism, anti-immigrant sentiments and alternate reality really was. Though that message didn't keep the GOP in power, Republicans still hope to ride it back if they can walk the tightrope of elevating shameful bigots and pied pipers to string along QAnon's 30 million.